If you experience frequent headaches or migraines, you may be interested to know that one of the world's favorite cosmetic injectables could help you feel better. Botox injections have been widely used for cosmetic purposes for many years now. The cosmetic use of the purified botulinum toxin is so well-known that most people don't realize that this ingredient was first administered for therapeutic gains. Aside from helping minimize symptoms of strabismus (since the 1970s!) and erasing frown lines, botulinum toxin is also gaining traction as a convenient, effective migraine treatment.
At Soft Touch Dentistry, we are happy to offer Botox injections for cosmetic rejuvenation and now also for the treatment of migraines. Contact our Brighton or Newton office for more information or to schedule your consultation today.
How Does Botox Help with Migraines?
Generally, the way that Botox injections work is by inhibiting the reception of the neurotransmitter that causes muscle contraction. This allows the muscle to relax and the overlying skin to smooth. Migraines and chronic headaches, though, don't seem to be caused only by muscle tension. Though Botox is injected into certain muscles of the head and neck, it is believed that the botulinum toxin may spread from these muscles to the nearby nerves that extend from the spinal cord. The absorption of the substance may work by interrupting the pathway of the neurotransmitters associated with the headache.
How Do You Prepare for Botox for Migraines?
Before administering Botox for migraines, your dentist will perform a thorough consultation and assessment. Botox may not work on all types of chronic headaches, so it is important to confirm its potential merit for your situation. If you are a good candidate for treatment and have not received Botox injections in the past four months, you may undergo the procedure during the same appointment. That said, you may also need to schedule your treatment for another day to allow time to stop taking medications or supplements that thin the blood. Doing so can decrease your chances of post-treatment bruising. Aside from your consultation and avoiding certain products, there are no other steps to prepare for a comfortable, effective treatment.
How Long Does Botox Take to Start Working for Migraines?
Botox works differently on migraines than it does on facial wrinkles. In the traditional use, patients expect to see visible changes in their appearance in about one week. For migraines, we anticipate the effects to occur gradually over two to four weeks. It is safe to continue taking your usual medications to ease headache pain as needed until your Botox injections start working. According to studies, patients who continued receiving Botox injections for migraines at the recommended intervals (about every four months) increasingly felt better and experienced fewer headaches, more clear days, and less time off work.
What Should You Not Do After Botox for Migraines?
The aftercare instructions for Botox migraine treatment are similar to those advised for cosmetic injections. You should avoid strenuous activity and excessive heat for 24 to 48 hours. You also must not lie down for four hours after your appointment. This can be challenging in some cases because there is a slight chance that Botox injections for migraines might incite headache pain. If this occurs, take your normal medication and rest while sitting up. You want to avoid pressing on any part of the head in which injections were administered. Doing so could cause discomfort and also move the Botox away from the intended treatment area.
Are Botox Injections for Migraines Painful?
Botox injections can be uncomfortable when used for migraines. The dentist may begin your treatment by applying a numbing medication to the injection area. However, this might be difficult on the scalp. If you are concerned about your injections being painful, talk to your provider about ways that your comfort will be managed. Typically, injections feel like a slight pinch that lasts just a moment.
What Are the Side Effects of Botox Injections for Migraines?
Botox injections can cause temporary redness, swelling, and discomfort at injection sites. Areas of your head and neck may be tender to the touch. When used to treat migraines, Botox might stimulate head pain or stiffness and soreness of the neck. You may experience drooping of an eyelid, though this is a less common side effect. Your eyes may also water or feel unusually dry, and you may feel as though your vision is blurry. Finally, you may feel somewhat fatigued, similar to having the flu, for a day or two after your treatment. If you are seeing us for your first Botox migraine treatment, it may be beneficial to schedule your appointment when you can take one to two days off work and other obligations.
Serious complications from Botox injections are very rare. Side effects such as difficulty swallowing or respiratory distress may occur if you have an allergic reaction to the drug. Your provider will discuss the risks associated with Botox injections and what to do if you experience signs of allergic reaction.
How Long Will My Botox for Migraine Results Last?
While it is possible that results will vary from one person to another, the effects of Botox for migraines are expected to last three to four months. Treatment guidelines recommend four sessions per year to maintain ongoing effects.
How Many Botox for Migraine Treatment Sessions Will I Need?
The treatment for migraines is pretty standard, set to approximately 30 injections spaced evenly around the head and neck. The frequency of treatment, as well, is standardized to every three to four months. Some people notice a decrease in their headaches starting two to four weeks after their first round of Botox injections. However, this is not consistent across all cases. You may experience a reduction in headaches after your first Botox session, but there is also a chance that your results won't develop until your second appointment, scheduled three months after your first. Not getting results after your initial visit does not mean that Botox won't work for you. It is beneficial to receive at least two rounds of injections before evaluating your outcome.
Will I Still Need Headache Medication After Getting Botox Injections for Migraines?
It's difficult to predict the extent to which chronic headaches may improve after receiving Botox injections. After your treatment, you may find that your headaches are less intense, less frequent, or both. You may still need to use medication sometimes but at a lower dose. Although it's becoming more commonplace to use Botox to treat chronic headaches, more time is needed to better anticipate how this FDA-approved drug may affect different people. According to some studies, patients experience at least a 50 percent improvement in the severity of headache pain after targeted Botox injections. Patients gained at least two more pain-free days a month after undergoing this treatment.
Are Botox Injections Effective on All Types of Headaches?
As effective as Botox is at reducing the intensity of muscle contractions, that doesn't mean that all headaches will respond to this treatment. Most commonly, Botox injections are considered for the treatment of chronic tension headaches and migraines. Headaches that are attributed to sinus problems may not be eased with a few injections. Signs that headaches are caused by a potential sinus problem include pain behind the ears, between the eyes, behind the cheekbones, or on top of the head. Signs that your headaches might respond to Botox injections include having vice-like pain, a sensation of squeezing around the head, and pain that originates or extends down the back of the neck. Botox may also work well for headaches that are localized or originate across the forehead.
How Do I Know if I am a Candidate for Botox Headache Treatment?
It isn't quite enough to experience frequent headaches to be a candidate for Botox headache treatment. Your doctor or Dr. Bidabadi may recommend trying Botox injections if you meet the following criteria:
- You experience headache pain 15 or more days out of the month.
- Your headaches have been ongoing for more than six months.
- You have tried other headache treatments, including prescription medications, with no significant improvement.
Chronic headaches can be caused by a number of factors. Your doctor will want to explore the potential cause of your chronic headaches before suggesting Botox injections as a suitable treatment option.
Is Botox for Migraines Covered by Insurance?
The FDA has approved Botox as a headache treatment. The therapeutic dosage is significantly higher than cosmetic Botox injections, which increases the cost of care. Because it's FDA-approved, Botox headache treatment is currently covered by Medicare and Medicaid. This means that other private insurance providers may also extend benefits for this treatment. Before seeking Botox headache treatment, talk to your medical insurance company about their policies. In most cases, it's necessary to provide extensive documentation proving you've sought other treatments and medications and that those therapies have failed to achieve results.
Read what our patients are saying!
Dr. Bidabadi Went Above And Beyond
“Once again, Dr. Bidabadi went above and beyond to provide the best dental care. I have been her patient for 15 years and even though I live 35 miles away, I continue to see her and her staff. Went yesterday for quick appointment and when she discovered a problem in another tooth, she worked through her lunch hour to treat me so that I wouldn’t have to make a separate long trip. I trust Dr. B and her practice 100%. Wish she would move north of Boston”