Botox is curing more than just wrinkles

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- While it's most known for helping wrinkles disappear, Botox is more than just a cosmetic injection. It's one of the most researched medicines in the world.

In 2002, botulinum toxin - better known as Botox - was FDA-approved for the glabellar region -the area on our face that crinkles between the eyes.

Since then, "We have convinced an entire generation to lose their elevens!" said Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse Heather Correa at Aesthetic and Laser Center.

Back then, Correa remembers Botox being a discrete cosmetic treatment.

"Now, everybody wants to talk about it. It's the topic of conversation," she said.

In fact, Allergan, the company that manufactures Botox, is seeing significant sales here in Houston.

"Last year, in 2016, Allergan in wholesale sales were over $28 million," added Correa.

But this injection started as a way to treat blepharospasms, or eye twitching back in 1989.

Now, Botox is FDA-approved for nine medical uses including overactive bladder, excessive under arm sweating, and stiff muscles --or "spasticity."
Dr. Gerard Francisco at TIRR Memorial Hermann started using Botox to help with spasticity in 1994.

"Spasticity is quite often seen in people after a stroke, brain injury, spine injury, multiple sclerosis, practically anything that affects the brain or spinal cord," said Dr. Francisco.

"This is why the arm curls up or the foot turns in when the person is walking," he added.

Dr. Francisco also treats a clenched fist for spasticity and helps the fist relax and maybe even more again.

"Within a few days, the medication will make its way to the small nerve endings and find its way to the nerve itself and block the release of certain chemicals that cause muscle contraction, spasm, or spasticity," Francisco explained.

Now, probably the most common medical use for Botox is to treat chronic migraines. That's 15 or more migraines a month.

"There are about 3.2 million people in the United States with chronic migraine, and 80% of them are women," said Neurologist Dr. Randolph Evans.

Anya Wilkening and Molly Hensel visited Dr. Randolph Evans because of their chronic migraines.

"Sound bothered me. Light was hugely painful for me. I couldn't' be around people," said Wilkening.

Dr. Evans treated them with Botox.

"We give 31 little injections around the forehead, sides of the head, back of the head, neck and shoulders," explained Dr. Evans.

"About 50% of people who get it have their headaches reduced by half or more," he added.

And that's exactly what happened for Wilkening and Hensel.

"I'm living a normal life. People can count on me again. I can't say, "oh no, I can't go. I have a headache." I mean it has changed my life. I drive two and a half hours from Victoria to Houston to get this treatment," said Hensel.
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