As discussed earlier in October, Botox is not solely used to prohibit wrinkling in the face. Botulinum exotoxin is an inhibitor of neuromuscular activity. It blocks communication between the nerve fibers and the muscles preventing contraction and temporarily relaxes the injected muscle. Botox was originally created to cure those suffering from strabismus (crossed eyes) and blepharospasm (uncontrollable blinking). Doctors discovered its most popular use after a patient requested to continue with the eye treatments as it reduced the wrinkles in her face. Along with wrinkles and uncontrollable blinking, Botox has been known to lessen migraine pain and occurrence, reduce excessive sweating, and relax neck muscle spasms. Just recently, the FDA approved Botox for a medical problem: overactive bladder.
An estimated 33 million men and women in the United States suffer from overactive bladders. This condition causes the bladder to contract too frequently and sometimes without warning. When this happens, it causes incontinence, a sudden urge to urinate, and frequent urination. Botox restricts the use of the bladder by semi-paralyzing the bladder muscle. Officially, the FDA claims that once Botox is injected into the bladder muscle it triggers relaxation of the bladder, boosts the organ’s storage capacity, and makes incontinence episodes less frequent.
How Does It Work?
A Botox injection is a minimally invasive procedure using a cystoscopy. The procedure can start with local or general anesthesia. The doctor then injects the drug using a cystoscopy, which allows him/her to see the interior of the bladder as injection occurs. The doctor will inject the Botox into 20 – 30 different sites in the bladder. The procedure is typically an outpatient treatment with patients able to leave almost immediately following the procedure. Not long after the treatment, the patient may experience discomfort while urinating as well as trouble emptying the bladder. In most cases, these side effects diminish quickly. Very rarely, patients may experience flu like symptoms and will be encouraged to seek immediate medical help.
To help prevent any other damaging side effects, the FDA suggests using an antibiotic before, during, and immediately after the procedure to combat potential bacterial infection. Side effects can include headaches, light-headedness, abdominal pain, urinary tract infections, painful urination, and incomplete emptying of the bladder. Because of the paralyzing effect of the Botox, about 4% of patients experienced problems emptying the bladder entirely. The side effects can last up to 6 weeks in which a technique of intermittent self-catheterization is needed in order to empty the bladder completely.
How Long Does It Last?
The injections last up to 6 – 10 months, at which time more injections are needed to sustain the bladder’s efficiency. Although there is not enough research to know if long-term use of Botox in the bladder can create long-term side effects, Botox has been used over the last 20 years for many other muscles and at least 4-5 years for urological disorders without major complications arising. For more information on the newly FDA approved procedure, schedule a consultation.