By now, you are most likely familiar with botulinum toxin, more commonly referred to by its brand name, Botox®. The FDA approved Botox® in 2002 for the temporary improvement of the appearance of frown lines between the eyebrows. Since then, it has been approved for the treatment of lines in the forehead and around the eyes as well. Dermatologists often use it off label for the cosmetic enhancement of lines in many other areas, including the chin, neck, and lips. Its effects last about four months.
What you may not know is that botulinum toxin is also used for many non-cosmetic uses as well. It is used in neurology for the treatment of cervical dystonia and migraine headaches. Ophthalmologists use it to treat blepharospasm and strabismus. In dermatology, we also use Botox® to treat localized excessive sweating in the armpits, hands, and feet.
Excessive sweating is also called hyperhidrosis and can be treated with injections of Botox®. The toxin has an effect on the nerves that control the activity of sweat glands. It provides temporary relief to those who suffer from overactive sweat glands by blocking the secretion of the chemical that is responsible for “turning on” the body’s sweat glands. The injections are performed every four to six months, and the effects are usually apparent two to seven days after the procedure is performed.
Botox® injections are covered by many insurance companies, since hyperhidrosis is considered a medical condition that can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to maintain employment and have successful intimate relationships. The condition can also impair confidence and lead to depression. It is typically the treatment of last resort after topical and oral medications have failed to effectively control the sweating. The procedure is quick and associated with no downtime. There is mild discomfort associated with the needle used to administer the medication, but it is short-lived and does not linger after the procedure is over.