The same Botox® (dilute botulinium toxin) that smooths facial wrinkles also prevents the muscle contractions that can trigger migraines.
Botox® works by blocking the release of the chemical in muscle cells that sends the signal to contract. Research into using Botox® to treat migraines began after patients receiving Botox® for other conditions reported improvement in their migraine symptoms. In 2010, the FDA approved Botox® for treating chronic migraines. It’s administered about every three months, and must be injected at the site of each nerve trigger, relaxing the surrounding muscles so that they won’t compress the nerve and trigger a migraine.
Botox® is a potent drug, and we only recommend using it if other treatment options haven’t helped you. Botox® is generally administered only to patients who have at least 15 headaches a month, and have failed medical management or have not responded well to other treatments.
Our physicians may recommend the step from medication to Botox® if you haven’t gotten relief from other treatments. They’ll look at your symptoms and history, including any past Botox® treatment, and any medications you take to determine whether you are a candidate for Botox treatment. You may need an ultrasound to identify the best location for injection.
Depending on your symptoms, Botox® may be injected into
On average, each Botox® treatment requires 32 injections. Each session only take a few minutes, and you should see results within a week of your first injections. Most patients who benefit from Botox® treatments receive five rounds of injections over 15 months.
Though Botox® is not effective for all types of headaches, about 90% of our patients report that their migraines are less frequent and not as severe after Botox® treatment. In clinical trials, patients reported 7 to 9 fewer headaches per month.
Botox® can have a few side effects, such as bruising and skin lumpiness, but fewer than one percent of all patients have any such negative reaction.
You’ll receive only as much Botox® as necessary to give you relief, and low doses cost less than higher ones. The total cost of an injection session can range from $200 to several thousand dollars.
Most insurance providers now recognize Botox® as treatment for migraines. Some have specific criteria patients must meet, or require documentation that you have gone through other treatment protocols before trying Botox®. Check with your insurance provider to make sure you meet their requirements.