Botox Does More Than Just Smooth Away Wrinkles
Yes, Botox can preserve your smooth, wrinkle-less skin, but did you know it could even help you maintain your blow-out post-spin class or stop your migraines and/or sweaty hands from being a nuisance? But isn’t getting 100+ units of Botox (the amount necessary to shoot up an entire scalp) much more costly than indulging in twice as many $45-a-shot Dry Bar sessions? Should we really use the chemical equivalent of a sweat straitjacket just because we want less sweaty hands? What do we need to know before Botoxing our scalps, hands, underarms or temples (in the name of migraine prevention)? We caught up with board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Kane to discuss FDA approved and off-label uses of the injectable.
Botox to Prevent Chronic Migraines –FDA Approved
Dr. Kane explained that Botox works by relaxing muscles that are compressing irritating a nerve. He notes that nerves yield sensation to our foreheads, the area behind our ears, and the back of the scalp that enter these areas through small tunnels in the skull. After exiting via these small tunnels, they pass through muscle before reaching the skin. “When activated, the muscle can pull on these nerves, irritating them since there isn’t much slack after exiting a small tunnel made of bone,” he notes. “It is thought that this nerve irritation triggers chronic migraine headaches, but if you relax the muscle with Botox, there is less traction on the nerve and thus less irritation, so you usually end up with fewer migraine headaches (it would be rare to wipe them out completely).” If another migraine does try to haunt you, it will be much less severe than before.
Botox injections to get rid of migraines are great, but it’s not for everyone, so who should avoid getting this procedure? Patients who have not had a complete neurological workup should avoid it until they do. “Most migraine headaches are relatively benign, but not all of them are,” notes Dr. Kane. Severe headaches can also be the first sign of a brain tumor, and you do not want to be treating a brain tumor with Botox. Botox helps a lot of things but it won’t help with that.
It should be noted that the areas where Botox is administered for chronic migraine headaches are different from those where it is injected for cosmetic reasons. In other words, getting Botox for migraines is a medical, not a cosmetic-medical procedure. “I wouldn’t recommend going to a neurologist for a cosmetic injection just as I wouldn’t recommend going to a plastic surgeon for a brain tumor,” Dr. Kane says.
Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating) –FDA Approved
The underarm is the most common area where Botox, or Dysport or Xeomin is injected to treat hyperhidrosis, a medical condition characterized by excessive sweating in the palms, soles of the feet, the face (upper lip or forehead) and scalp. The annoying thing is that people with hyperhidrosis in one area are prone to have it in other areas as well. Side note, women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or nursing should not get Botox. “Injecting the palms can rarely mildly weaken the hands, so if you are entered in a wrist wrestling competition, it is probably best to wait until after the match,” he quips.
After you get Botox for hyperhidrosis, don’t get too excited and throw away your deodorant; it may decrease the amount of sweat in your armpit, but maybe not the smell! “Botox works primarily on eccrine glands (which produce watery sweat) and less on apocrine glands (which produce the smell),” he explains. Heads-up, getting the palms and soles treated can be a bit painful.
Botox For Blow-outs (Off-Label)
Botox for longer, styled blow-outs? Might be too good to be true. “For years, some providers have been trying to make Botox seem like less of a medical procedure and more like a blowout or haircut and now they have the marketing campaign that sort of conflates the two,” says Dr. Kane. “The idea is that since moisture and humidity can curl your hair, then decreasing the sweat on your forehead and your entire scalp might keep the frizz away a little bit longer.” The problem with this, Botox can’t control the humidity outside, which means if frizzy hair is your biggest problem, you probably won’t benefit. It won’t entirely dry your scalp either, notes Dr. Kane. So, it’s unlikely that a drier scalp is going to keep your hair significantly straighter for a longer period of time.
This is also far more expensive than your garden-variety injectable treatment. “While for most people, facial Botox is a good value for their money, the scalp is a very large area,” explains Dr. Kane. “It would take a LOT of Botox and over a hundred injections to fully treat the scalp.” It’s hugely expensive and it may not even work. “While this may seem obvious, blowtox has not been evaluated by the FDA and I doubt it will be any time soon.” His advice to those seeking Botox to extend blowouts? “Bring a credit card with a high limit.”
More Off-label Uses
Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin can also work well in the neck, especially for the cords or bands that run from your chin to your collarbone. “They can also help to contour your face by slightly shrinking salivary glands in front of your ears and in your neck,” explains Dr. Kane. “I’ve been injecting my own submandibular glands (neck) for about eight years now because they were really big and they’re about half their size now.”
Botox is a go for wrinkles, fine lines and even sweaty problems. But, for a sweaty scalp it might be best to invest in a dry-shampoo product to keep your luscious blow-out going for a few days longer.