Over the last century, the history of Botox has gone through numerous course changes. From military applications to ophthalmological treatments, botulinum toxin has had an unlikely voyage to its widely known cosmetic applications.
Botox continues to evolve to this day, with more efficient treatments and new uses constantly being discovered and tested.
Advances in Botox
One of the most significant recent advances in Botox are improvements in syringe technology. In 2017, TSK laboratories released a new metered syringe that can accurately deliver two, one or half a unit of Botox to help ensure the art of delivery is more precise, reducing the likelihood of under or over-injection. Improvements in needle technology also mean more refined needle points for greater exactitude, with the result that Botox is even more painless than before.
Since the introduction of Botox into the market, additional tests and studies have been made into the efficiency and results of treatment. By studying the effects of Botox on people of different ages, sexes, and sizes with varying issues of different intensities, better guidelines have emerged for injectors. This has allowed injectors to better tailor treatments to their patients, using only as much Botox as is necessary to maximize results and avoid complications.
Many patients that seek Botox treatment are seeking to treat a loss of firmness, wrinkles, and other visible signs of aging. While Botox can help to lessen these signs and prevent further damage, combining Botox with fillers have become more common in recent years. These combination therapies are a full anti-aging treatment as the two treatments work in tandem to bolster and smooth the treated area.
Novel Cosmetic Uses For Botox
While new and exciting therapeutic uses for Botox have held the spotlight in recent years, the injectable is still primarily known for its cosmetic uses. New studies and uses for cosmetic Botox have continued to emerge, giving the skeptics ever more reason to embrace Botox.
Scalp injections also take advantage of Botox’s anti-sweating properties to help keep hair clean longer. This works to help prolong the appearance of blowouts and other labor-intensive hairstyles.
As a result of their tendency to regrow when removed, keloids can be difficult to treat through traditional means. While the evidence is mixed, some studies have found that injecting Botox into keloids and the surrounding area over the course of several months has worked to reduce the size of these growths.
Acne and rosacea
Acne can occur for a number of reasons, and Botox may only be helpful for certain types of acne. That said, Botox can address a number of factors that contribute to acne. It has been shown to decrease the production of sebum, the oily substance created by sebaceous glands in the skin that contributes to cases of acne. Botox has also been shown to shrink pores
As previously mentioned, Botox hinders the release of acetylcholine, which helps to reduce sweating. This can leave the skin cleaner, which may help treating some cases of acne and rosacea.
New Therapeutic Uses of Botox
Interestingly, some of the most influential advances in Botox relate to the therapeutic rather than cosmetic field. Botox has been used to successfully treat a number of physical issues since the 2000s including severe neck spasms, achalasia, and cerebral palsy. More recently, it has also been used to treat rare skin diseases like Fox-Fordyce and Hailey–Hailey disease, as well as more common issues like psoriasis.
The most recent research in Botox use has been investigating its potential to alleviate the symptoms of individuals suffering from major depression. Phase One clinical trials have shown that 52% of 74 people with significant depressive symptoms showed an improvement in symptoms after receiving Botox. Phase Two trials are underway in 2017.
While scientists are yet not entirely certain how Botox addresses depression, one initial hypothesis is that the inability to frown can diminish the likelihood of feeling sad or anxious, a theory known as the facial feedback hypothesis. Overall, this means that these advances in Botox offer exciting and meaningful possibilities for patients, both from a cosmetic perspective and from a mental health perspective.
Botox has also been used to treat abnormal heartbeats after open heart surgery. A common side effect of open heart surgery called atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heartbeat that can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or even death. In 2015, the first human trials were performed on 60 patients undergoing open heart procedures. During their surgery, half of the patients received a Botox injection into the fat surrounding the heart. Of the group that received Botox, only two experienced atrial fibrillation, compared to nine of the patients that did not receive the injections. Studies continue to examine the potentially life-saving applications of Botox in open heart surgery.
Studies into using Botox injections to treat overactive bladders have found encouraging results in the past few years. Urinary incontinence impacts a large number of Americans, with nearly a quarter of older women experiencing urine leakage. One study of women with idiopathic urgency urinary incontinence found that injections reduced instances of incontinence from an average of 5 incidents per day to 3.4 incidents.
Sweat and saliva
In the past few years, Botox has also been used to manage excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and excess salivation (sialorrhea). When Botox is injected it inhibits the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the sweat glands. This leads to reduced sweating.
Sialorrhea, which typically causes drooling, is often associated with neurological disorders like cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s. Studies of both children and adults have shown a significant reduction in saliva production in the majority of cases.
Injecting Botox into certain areas can also be key to pain relief. The prevention and reduction of chronic pain in areas like the back and other areas prone to cramping and spasm is a relatively new application for Botox. By injecting Botox near the trouble area, the release of neurotransmitters is modified in a manner similar to when Botox is used to reduce sweating or salivation. In this case, however, neurotransmitter release is modified to reduce the sensation of pain, lowering the amount of pain experienced by a patient.
In some cases, Botox can also be used irregularly for pain management in times where patients expect abnormally high amounts of pain. For example, patients wishing to avoid the pain associated with wearing high heels frequently may choose to undergo Botox injection prior to a series of weddings or other formal events.
Another recently discovered use for Botox is the reduction of chronic migraines. While studies have found mixed results, some have found that Botox injections have reduced the number of days per month spent in pain due to migraines.
Like many other new applications for Botox, migraine management is based on the products’ ability to modify the release neurotransmitters.
Similarly, some with chronic headaches have also experienced benefits from regular Botox injection, like a reduction in the frequency and intensity of headaches.
In some cases, women that experience pain during vaginal sex can receive Botox injections to reduce this discomfort.
On a similar note, Allergan, the makers of Botox, has recently been testing using Botox injections to help prevent premature ejaculation during intercourse. Early results have shown that injections into the penis can delay ejaculation without causing any signs of erectile dysfunction.