BOTOX® Cosmetic for Migraine Headaches

October 29, 2014

BOTOX® Cosmetic is perhaps best known for its ability to smooth out lines and wrinkles on the face. However, BOTOX® Cosmetic originally started out as a treatment for tremors. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved BOTOX® Cosmetic for yet another medical use in October of 2010. Based on the results of two large studies published first online in the March 2010 issue of the clinical medical journal Cephalalgia, the FDA approved BOTOX® Cosmetic as a treatment for chronic migraine headaches.

What Are Migraine Headaches?

Migraines are particularly painful headaches that are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light. The National Headache Center estimates that approximately 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, and 40 percent of these people will have a migraine attack once a month, while 35 percent will suffer from migraines one to four times a month. Women are more likely than men to suffer from migraines. These headaches usually will last anywhere from one to three days.

How Can BOTOX® Cosmetic Prevent Migraine Headaches?

The most obvious way in which BOTOX® Cosmetic helps relieve migraine headaches is by relaxing tight muscles around the head and neck. However, BOTOX® Cosmetic may also stop the release of certain neurotransmitters from the nerve endings around the scalp area. These neurotransmitters can set up a vicious cycle of signals from triggers (such as bright light or loud noise) going out to the nerve endings, which then send back pain messages to the brain. An article in the December 2010 issue of the journal Pain seems to show support for this.

How Is BOTOX® Cosmetic Used for Migraines?

Patients who undergo BOTOX® Cosmetic for migraine headaches will receive a series of 31 injections at specific points around the head. As one treatment is expected to last for approximately three months, these injections are performed every 12 weeks to prevent recurrence of headaches. According to the FDA, patients are considered good candidates for BOTOX® treatment of migraines if they “have a history of migraine and suffer from headaches on 15 or more days per month with headaches lasting four hours a day or longer.”

What Does the Research Say?

The FDA based its decision to approve the use of BOTOX® Cosmetic for migraine headaches on two articles that compared the reduction of headache frequency between patients who were treated with BOTOX® Cosmetic every 12 weeks and those who received placebo treatments. The first article found that patients who received the BOTOX® Cosmetic treatment had fewer days with either migraines or less severe headaches. The second article found that patients who received the BOTOX® treatment reported fewer migraine headaches over a 28-day period. In total, both articles found that BOTOX® treatment for chronic migraine headaches in adults was effective and safe.

Given the large number of Americans who suffer from chronic migraines, any new treatment that prevents pain and suffering is a welcome relief. With the FDA’s approval of BOTOX® Cosmetic as a safe, effective treatment for chronic migraine headaches, physicians now have another option to help those patients who suffer from chronic migraine headaches.

To schedule a consultation, contact Crawford Plastic Surgery.

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