Botox is hot in Philly for something other than furrowed brows and fine lines. It’s new job: muting migraines. The Jefferson Headache Center has been using Botox as an alternative migraine treatment for severe sufferers for the past 20 years, but since the FDA gave its stamp of approval on October 15th, the center has seen a steep rise in interest. Not only are fears of complications reduced under the new approval, but insurance companies are now starting to cover the pricey injections—which can add up to about $700 per cycle.
“Botox acts to calm down over-excited nerve endings that are located in the face and that link to nerves throughout the head,” explains Stephen Silberstein, the center’s director. “This happens as the protein called SNAP 25 in Botox works to clear the chemicals in the body that cause headaches. Essentially, the Botox ‘stuffs up’ the release of chemicals and the person is relieved of the migraine pain.”
The injections are made in the forehead, between the eyebrows, in the back of the head and at the temples. Overall, about 155 units of Botox are used per treatment session, and four sessions per year are necessary to assure constant relief of the pain.
“Some patients feel instant relief from a headache after a treatment, but most patients start to feel relief within a week or so following the injections,” says Silberstein.
Though reactions like difficulty breathing or swallowing may occur in children given too high a dose, Silberstein ensures the treatment is safe for adults when administered under the care of a trained physician. “The worst thing that could happen is patients will lose their wrinkles,” says Silberstein.
Not all migraine sufferers are candidates, but if you are experiencing chronic migraines and nausea that last more than 15 days per month, Botox may provide relief. “People are coming in and saying the treatment has changed their lives,” says Silberstein.
Jefferson Headache Center, 111 South 11th Street, Suite 8130 Gibbon, 215-955-2037, jefferson.edu/headache.