New uses for Botox
Botulinum toxin, or much better known here as Botox, is one of the most popular treatments in the aesthetic industry. While just about everyone knows about Botulinum Toxin A’s ability to smooth and lift wrinkled skin, experts are continuously discovering new uses for the treatment.
Leading Canadian dermatologist Kevin Smith says many people are unaware of the benefits of choosing BTX-A based medicines over oral medications for non-cosmetic ailments, which include excessive sweating, migraine headache, Bruxism (chronic pain from grinding the teeth), muscle spasms, and painful skin conditions.
“(BTX-A) works by binding to very specific receptors, reducing the release of chemical messengers which do things such as cause our sweat glands to sweat, muscles to contract, or in the case of painful conditions such as headaches, it blocks the pain messengers that are causing discomfort,” he said.
Reached at his clinic in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Smith has served on numerous medical boards, including the Canadian Hyperhidrosis Advisory Committee, and the Canadian Hyperhidrosis Guidelines Development Group. Smith is a frequent contributor to the popular aesthetic website, Realself.com, as well as several medical journals since the establishment of his practice in 1988.
According to Smith, many physicians are unaware that BTX-A is a safe and effective means of treating approximately 120 conditions, and that list is growing.
“The best way to think of it is as a way to relax the muscles,” he explained. “For example, if we are treating a baby born with a club foot, we can now inject (BTX-A into) the muscles to relax them, and that allows other muscles to bring the leg into the right position and saves the baby from having to have surgery.”
Smith added that new uses for the medicine include enlarged prostrate treatment, athletic therapy, and promising research is underway for the use of Botox in treating asthma and conditions which block airway passages.
Smith illustrated the efficiency of injecting the problematic site directly, as opposed to flooding the body with medication to treat one region.
“In countries like Korea, cold and stress can trigger a painful condition known as Raynaud's Phenomenon, which causes the blood vessels in the fingers and toes to constrict and become discolored,” he said. “We’ve learned that we can control the problem by injecting Botox into the hands or feet in a specific way, and that relaxes the blood vessels.”
Regarding the cost of BTX-A based medicine, Smith believes it is often worth the budgeting required.
“Let’s say it costs 5 or 6 dollars a day to control migraine headaches for 3 or 4 months”, he said. “All you have to do is miss a few days of work due to head pain and it would’ve been cheaper to have been treated with Botox”.
Smith emphasizes that “you get what you pay for” when it comes to choosing a BTX-A formulation.
“You might save a small amount by using some form of BTX-A from China or by using Dysport instead of Botox, but the saving is very small. Instead of costing you $3 a day for using genuine Botox, which has been around for about 25 years and about which 2300 medical papers have been published, you could pay $2.70 a day for Dysport, about which 250 papers have been published.”
Smith concluded by stressing the importance of practitioner experience and the patient-practitioner relationship.
“You have to trust the people taking care of you, know their reputation and their background, and use common sense.”
Smith travels around the world teaching doctors techniques in the use of BTX-A. Smith is one of the largest users of Botox in Canada, and has performed over 13,000 Botox treatment sessions since 2001.
The writer is a guest columnist from Ontario, Canada, and is currently living in Seoul. She welcomes topic suggestions from readers and can be reached at email@example.com