New Uses For Botox: It Isn't Just For Wrinkles Anymore

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Robin M. Fleck, M.D, F.A.C.P, founder of Southwest Skin and Cancer Institute in Prescott, Arizona, has been using the neurotoxin, Botox, in her practice for the past ten years. Neurotoxins have been a boon for helping patients achieve a more refreshed and youthful look without undergoing surgery. Now, the ways in which neurotoxins can be applied is expanding, and patients are finding relief from a variety of other ailments that would normally require surgery. These off-label uses are helping many afflicted with chronic migraines and those suffering from the embarrassment of hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating) as well as several other cosmetic issues. Tips from Dr. Fleck on these new uses for neurotoxin are described.

Peau d'orange

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“Can you do anything about this droopy mouth corner I have?” asked a patient recently. “And what about these lipstick lines?” asked another. Others are concerned about their neck wrinkles that increase with age. The answer is “YES” to all of these questions because of innovative ways neurotoxins are being utilized at Southwest Skin and Cancer Institute by cosmetic dermatologist Robin Fleck, M.D.. Not only are Botox Dysport, and the newest FDA approved neurotoxin, Xeomin, used to enhance appearance, but they have also been successful for non-cosmetic uses as well.

Dr. Fleck has been using Botox for several years to treat forehead wrinkles. Until very recently, it was used in just a few specific areas of the face. The most popular area has always been the glabella (the area above the bridge of the nose and between the eyebrows) also known as frown lines. Other popular areas include crow’s feet and bunny lines (wrinkle areas just below the bridge of the nose). Novel uses for neurotoxins have emerged for the treatment of other areas, such as “droopy mouth”, peau d’orange or pebbly chin, platysma muscle of the neck, underarm sweating and migraines.

As we age, the corners of our mouth start to turn down. These lines give an appearance that many people refer to as a “set of parentheses”, or “droopy mouth”. One of the contributing factors may be overactivity of a muscle referred to as the DAO (depressor anguli oris). Neurotoxin can be injected into this muscle producing a nice change in the position of the angle of the mouth. “The effect is striking,” states Dr. Fleck. “The corner of the mouth is lifted, improving overall appearance”. The procedure is repeated every four to six months and is effective in both men and women. With the addition of dermal fillers such as Radiesse, and the new Acculift laser lipo procedure, a patient can achieve a more youthful look without plastic surgery.

Lines above the upper lip, commonly known as “lipstick lines” are another area of concern. These small lines extend vertically from the upper lip causing lipstick to bleed, which is how they came to be called “lipstick lines”. Some also refer to them as “smoker’s lines” because they’re often a result of smoking. These lines were created due to puckering of muscles around the mouth. Muscle-relaxing injectables such as Botox or Xeomin prove to be very effective in diminishing these lines.

Peau d’orange or pebbly chin is another unique use for neurotoxins. This is the area on the chin that can look like an orange peel, which is how it got its name, peau d’orange (French for orange peel skin). Over time, habitual contractions in the mentalis muscle of the chin result in several thin, cross-hatched lines that produce an undesirable appearance. Small amounts of Botox or Xeomin are injected at the origin of the mentalis muscle to gently relax the muscles in the chin. Repeated injections eliminate the tiny grooves, with fewer treatments needed over time.

Recently, Dr. Fleck began treating overactive platysma muscle, producing the so-called “Nefertiti lift”. The platysma is the neck muscle that causes pulling down of the face muscles, and jowls to form along the jawline. Neurotoxin injections weaken this muscle, resulting in a smoother neck and jaw line. “This has become a very popular treatment at our office,” notes Jan Gillum, medical assistant at Southwest Skin and Cancer Institute. “It affects not only the neck area, but the chin, jowls and angles of the mouth as well. The results we’re seeing are similar to those of a face lift without the downtime or expense.”

Migraines can also be treated with neurotoxin. With multiple injections around the head and neck, the use of neurotoxin can relieve headaches. This treatment was discovered after cosmetic use of Botox was providing relief for migraine sufferers. Migraines can last from 4-72 hours, causing sensitivity to light and sound, as well as nausea and intense pain. Neurotoxin can greatly reduce the duration and intensity of migraine symptoms with as few as 3 injection sessions per year. Before this novel approach, the migraine sufferer had to resort to expensive analgesic drugs that can cause stomach bleeding or liver damage.

Neurotoxins are also producing impressive results for hyperhidrosis. Many men and women suffer from excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis. Neurotoxin is injected in the underarm area, decreasing sweating by 90% within forty-eight hours, with the full effect seen within a week. Most patients will obtain the benefit with one treatment that can last for six to ten months.

With the safety and efficacy of neurotoxins eclipsing more invasive alternatives to common ailments, it is no wonder people are seeking out these treatments. It is important to discuss your symptoms with an experienced medical doctor who can assess whether neurotoxin treatment is right for you. To make an appointment at Southwest Skin and Cancer Institute, call (928) 778-7000 today.

Cosmetic surgeon, Robin Fleck, M.D. is a double-board certified dermatologist and internist, recognized by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is founder and Medical Director of Body Oasis Laser Aesthetics in Prescott, Arizona and is a fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery and the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr. Fleck is also the founder of Southwest Skin and Cancer Institute and Vein Specialties in Prescott, Arizona.

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