Whether you know your way around the injectable category, or you're just an avid reality TV fan, chances are, you're familiar with the concept of Botox. Typically administered in the forehead area, the injectable stops movement of the muscles that cause wrinkles, but it also has some pretty unexpected uses that aren't limited to the realm of aesthetics. "There are a lot of medical issues that stem from muscles being too tight, or they have spasm issues, and now, Botox is being applied to many of those issues to alleviate the problems," says plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Ip. "When used and applied in certain ways, the difference it makes can be amazing." Issues that have been solved through an off-label application of Botox include excessive sweating, facial ticks, migraine headaches, and much more, with effects lasting up to 6 months. "When it provides relief, people tend to use it again, but you should first evaluate the problem and see if there are any other underlying ways to treat it," Dr. Ip adds. "Still, it's an easy procedure—it takes 5 minutes with no downtime." Keep reading to find out more about 6 ways to use Botox that have nothing to do with wrinkles.
Lower Face and Jaw Area
Though these treatments technically fall under the aesthetic category, Botox can be used around the lip area, and in the gums. "If you have a short lip, injecting Botox into the upper part can make it drop a little bit, and it can also fix a gummy smile," Dr. Ip explains. Additionally, if you have strong jaw muscles, this can cause the appearance of a wider face. To counteract this, Dr. Ip recommends injecting Botox into the mass of the chewing muscle. You'll still be able to use it, but it will shrink in size and your face won't look as wide. "This helps to weaken that muscle. It's like when you have your arm in a cast," he says. "When you don't use a muscle for a while, you get an atrophy and it shrinks in size."
You've probably heard of this use, especially in the armpits. To combat excessive sweating, doctors will often inject Botox into areas where it occurs the most. "People stop sweating when it is injected into the sweat glands of the armpit, and it can also be used in the hands and feet, though it might be painful to stick a needle into the palm of your hand," Dr. Ip adds.
Treatment of Migraine Headaches
Similar things that trigger a tension headache can also trigger a soul-crushing migraine headache. If this is the case, Botox can be injected into those areas to ease the strain there. "This of course depends on what causes the migraine, but if it's caused by tension, you can inject it into trigger points like the temporal region, or neck area," says Dr. Ip. "It helps to knock out the muscles that get tight and trigger the headache, and can ultimately help to alleviate the migraine."
Dr. Ip notes that many neurologists have used Botox to combat certain facial ticks. "It can work for a patient that has neuromuscular or facial problems, like ticks or spasticity of any kind of muscle," he tells us. "You can tighten the muscle that causes some of the twitches, since there isn't a good treatment for that just yet."
It's certainly one of the most unexpected issues that can be treated, but if it works, it can be life-changing for some. "In urology, they're starting to use Botox to treat urinary incontinence, which stems from the muscles in the bladder having spasms," Dr. Ip explains. "If the muscles are always tightening up, people tend to leak urine, but if you can deal with those muscles, it becomes less of a problem."
Anyone who has ever experienced an esophogeal spasm can tell you, it's a pretty painful feeling. "Some patients that have esophogus muscles that will squeeze tightly together, and it can almost feel like you're having a heart attack because you get chest pains," says Dr. Ip. "Some gastroneurologists and urologists have found that injecting Botox into the esophogus can alleviate that."