Treatment of Hyperhidrosis and Migraines Headaches with Botox
Botox has far more uses than simply removing the wrinkles on the upper third of the face. In fact, Botox first received FDA approval not for wrinkle treatment, but for treatment of involuntary eyelid spasms. At New Image Medical Spa, in addition to wrinkles, we use Botox to treat excessive sweating and migraine headaches.
Hyperhidrosis — excessive sweating
The human body uses perspiration to cool the skin when the temperatures are warm or when the person is exercising/using his or her body physically. Hyperhidrosis is a condition where the body sweats excessively and the sweating is not related to temperature or activity. Hyperhidrosis can cause the person to sweat so much that is soaks through the clothes and can drip off the hands. Obviously, this disrupts normal activities, but it is also a source of social anxiety and embarrassment.
What causes excessive sweating?
When we sweat normally, the nervous system triggers the sweat glands to activate in response to a rise in body temperature. When a person has hyperhidrosis, the nerves that trigger perspiration become overactive and trigger a sweat response without a rise in body temperature.
In primary hyperhidrosis, there isn’t any other contributor, such as another health condition. Primary hyperhidrosis usually affects the palms, soles of the feet, and sometimes the face. There seems to be a genetic/hereditary component to this type of hyperhidrosis.
In secondary hyperhidrosis, the excessive sweating is due to an underlying medical condition. With secondary hyperhidrosis, the sweating is likely to come all across the body. These are health factors that can be part of this type of hyperhidrosis:
• Low blood sugar
• Certain medications
• Overactive thyroid gland
• Nervous system disorders
• Some types of cancer
• Heart attack
Treating excessive sweating
Different treatments can be used to attempt to stop hyperhidrosis — from using low-level electrical current across the hands and feet to prescription-strength antiperspirants to surgical removal of the sweat glands. One of the most successful treatments, however, has proven to be the injection of Botox.
Botox is called a neuromodulator. When injected in minute amounts, the botulinum toxin in Botox blocks the nerve messages sent to the brain. In the case of wrinkles, Botox blocks the messages to contract muscles that form wrinkles with making expressions such as squinting (crow’s feet wrinkles). With excessive sweating, Botox blocks the messages from the nerves to trigger the sweat glands. The FDA has approved Botox for use treating hyperhidrosis on the underarm area. It can also be used “off-label” on the palms and the soles of the feet.
How we use Botox for excessive sweating
At New Image Medical Spa, we inject Botox in a series of several injections in the underarms. The needle used is very tiny, and there is little discomfort. The injections take from 4-5 days to fully stop the nerve messages that trigger sweat gland activation. Once this has occurred, sweating is reduced for 4 to 6 months, sometimes longer. When the body eventually absorbs the inert Botox, sweating will return. At that point, another Botox session at New Image will continue to decrease your sweating.
After excessive sweating treatment
You may have some very minor soreness at a couple of the injection sites, but that is minimal. Otherwise, it will take 4-5 days to decrease your sweating. Then for up to the next half year, your sweating should be markedly decreased.
A migraine can cause severe, debilitating pain, requiring the person to often lie down in a darkened room until the migraine passes. Migraines cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. They usually occur just on one side of the head, and they are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. A migraine can last for hours, even days. Chronic migraines are classified as a person having a migraine at least 15 days per month.
At New Image, we use Botox for treatment of chronic migraines.
What causes migraines?
The causes of migraine headaches are still somewhat of a scientific mystery. Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to be involved. Migraines may be related to an imbalance in brain chemicals, especially serotonin, which helps regulate pain in the nervous system. Migraines may also be caused by changes in the brainstem and the trigeminal nerve.
Are there different types of migraines?
There are seven classified types of migraines. These are the two main types:
• Migraine without aura — Formerly known as a “common migraine,” this is the most frequent type of migraine. Symptoms include moderate to severe pulsating headache pain on one side of the head. With the pain also come nausea, blurred vision, confusion, mood changes, fatigue, and increased sensitivity to sound and light. This type of migraine worsens with frequent use of headaches medications.
• Migraine with aura — Formerly known as a “classic or complicated migraine,” this type of migraine includes visual disturbances and other neurological symptoms (abnormal sensation, numbness, muscle weakness on one side of the body, tingling in the hands or face, trouble speaking, confusion) that show themselves from 10 to 60 minutes before the actual headache begins. Nausea, loss of appetite, and increased sensitivity to light and sound may also precede the headache.
How does Botox help with migraines?
In 2010, the FDA approved the use of Botox for treatment of “chronic migraines.” These are migraines that occur on at least 15 days each month. Botox appears to work better in cases of more frequent migraines. The FDA did not approve Botox for use on non-chronic migraines.
Botox is made of the botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria that cause botulism. In the 50s it was discovered that when this neurotoxin is injected into a muscle in a very tiny amount, it temporarily paralyzes the muscle. Botox is well known for its cosmetic treatment of wrinkles. When erasing wrinkles, the injected Botox stops muscles that form wrinkles on the upper third of the face. Botox blocks the nerve message from getting to the brain, so the muscle is not ordered to contract. Without the contraction, the wrinkle above the muscle doesn’t form.
For migraines, Botox is injected around the pain fibers involved in headaches. The Botox enters the nerve endings in the injection area and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. Without these chemicals, pain networks in the brain are not activated.
Botox prevents migraines; it doesn’t address them once they start. It takes time to work. Usually the second or third treatment session shows the maximum effect. One treatment session lasts from 10-12 weeks.
How is Botox injected for migraines?
At New Image Medical Spa, we use a very tiny needle for our Botox injections. The injections will feel like a pinprick. We inject the Botox into shallow muscles in the skin, using 31 injections in seven key areas of the head and neck.
After your session, you may have some neck soreness, but this is temporary and an ice pack will reduce any discomfort.
Will insurance cover my Botox migraine treatment?
If you have chronic migraines (at least 15 days per month), insurance will usually cover treatment. However, in most cases you must have tried and failed to respond to two other preventative measures first. These are treatments such as the use of blood pressure or anti-seizure medications.