While the uses of Botox are primarily focused on improving the appearance of facial lines, the drug can also be used to treat a variety of conditions, ranging from cervical dystonia to strabismus to severe sweating. The drug works by inhibiting the action of acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits nerve signals. Off-label uses include the treatment of drooling and other conditions.
What Is Botox Used For?
Botox® (onabotulinumtoxinA, previously known as botulinum toxin type A) is a prescription medication approved for several different uses. Although the drug is well known for its ability to improve the appearance of facial lines, it is also approved for treating severe sweating and a few muscle spasm conditions.
The generic name for Botox was changed from "botulinum type A" to "onabotulinumtoxinA" to help prevent confusion and mix-ups between Botox and other similar botulinum type A products.
Using Botox for Facial Lines
Botox is approved to temporarily reduce the appearance of "frown lines" between the eyebrows. Initially, it was approved for this use only in people 65 years old or younger, as studies have suggested that the drug is less effective in older individuals. However, this age restriction seems to have been removed. The beneficial effects of Botox for frown lines between the eyebrows last about three to four months. In order to maintain the effects, you will need to receive Botox injections periodically.
Botox is also approved for treating moderate-to-severe crow's feet (wrinkles at the outer corners of the eye) in adults.
Botox Indicated for Head and Neck Spasms
Botox is also approved to treat cervical dystonia, a condition that involves unusual muscle spasms or contractions in the head or neck. Frequently, cervical dystonia causes an abnormal head position (often twisted to one side), abnormal head or neck movements, and neck pain. Botox can help decrease the severity of the abnormal head position and can help relieve neck pain. Although the drug will usually cause some improvement immediately, the full effects usually take about six weeks to develop and last for about three months.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Information for healthcare professionals: onabotulinumtoxinA (marketed as Botox/Botox Cosmetic), abobotulinumtoxinA (marketed as Dysport), and rimabotulinumtoxinB (marketed as Myobloc) (8/3/2009). FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/ucm174949.htm. Accessed August 21, 2009.
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