Botox: “The Little Injection That Could”
February 27, 2012
Jeff Wojciechowski, a 63-year-old Fort Washington man, has been paralyzed from mid-chest down, following a construction accident. Before his family vacation to Cancun he got a Botox injection, not between the eyebrows, but in his bladder muscle. Hopefully, this will give him a break from the incontinence he has lived with since his accident.
Wojciechowski’s Botox injection comes after FDA-approval of Botox for a distressing medical condition – the loss of bladder control due to neurological conditions. This is in addition to a growing list of medical Botox uses, including chronic migraines, muscle stiffness in the arm, disorder of neck and eye muscles and excessive sweating.
The significance of FDA approval is that Botox treatment for incontinence will now be covered by insurance, enabling many more people to receive it. According to philly.com, January 21, 2012, Patrick Shenot, a Thomas Jefferson University Hospital urologist leading the Allergan-sponsored clinical trial that Wojciechowski participates in, says “The results typically range from slight improvements to a total elimination of incontinence episodes.”
It’s no wonder that Botox sales have been skyrocketing for producers such as Allergan. Global Botox sales were $125.3 million in 1998, but they topped $1.4 billion last year with sales evenly split between medical and cosmetic uses. Interestingly, Botox was originally explored for its medical uses; the cosmetic application was discovered serendipitously. As Allergan aggressively pursues new regulatory licenses, sales of therapeutic (medically-used) Botox are expected to soon outstrip its cosmetic uses.
Medical Botox treatments require much higher Botox doses than cosmetic surgery procedures. Sidney M. Wolfe, founder and director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, says patients should be aware of the potential for serious side effects with larger doses and if the injection area is near the esophagus. But under proper conditions, most patients generally reap the benefits of Botox for medical conditions.
Most important for all Botox users is to know who is diluting the product coming from the manufacturer and to receive injections from a doctor with an understanding of the underlying anatomy and proper training to anticipate complications.
Bottom line: if you’re receiving Botox injections, make sure your practitioner is board-certified in the specialty that the Botox is being used for. For example, if you’re receiving Botox for incontinence, your injector should be a board-certified urologist.
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