Syringe. Needle. Poof! All those years of aging are magically gone. But while Botox is most commonly used for cosmetic purposes, there is actually a whole list of other non-cosmetic reasons why people get it from head to, well, vagina. These are some other perks of the poke.
You’ve probably heard of Botox; it isn’t necessarily a new concept. In fact, it is actually just a brand name of
a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, according to MedlinePlus.
Doctors and cosmetologists use small doses to smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles, but also to treat chronic migraines, hyperhidrosis (severe sweating), and even erectile dysfunction in men and vaginismus in women.
So how does this common injectable do its thing? Simply put, Botox acts as a blocking agent that temporarily paralyzes the muscle, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
For patients experiencing chronic migraines, the American Migraine Association says there’s evidence suggesting that Botox actually interrupts the “pathway of pain transmission between the brain and the nerves that extend from the spinal cord.”
Rian Maercks of The Maercks Institute, a plastic surgery center and med spa in Miami, said that even aesthetic Botox can help those who suffer from this condition. While it doesn’t have permanent effects, he said that patients should
not experience migraines while the Botox is still present, which can last a few months. This is because Botox and filler work to temporarily decompress the nerves causing the headache.
What Botox can permanently fix is vaginismus which, according to Maercks, is the “involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor muscles and subsequent muscle spasms.” The condition can make any type of vaginal penetration difficult, painful or even impossible.
“The cool thing is that Botox paralyzes the muscle and we’re able to use it in a targeted way in the pelvic floor,” he said. Then, he said, patients can start easing their way into having penetrative intercourse. According to Maercks, the Botox lasts a couple months, and once it wears off, patients may never need treatment again.
“While some require additional surgery,” he said. “A vast majority can be treated with Botox alone.”
Another health condition Botox can help with is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), a disorder that affects the joints connecting the jawbone to the skull.
According to Healthline, this treatment is still considered experimental and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, a 2012 study done by Département Universitaire de Chirurgie Maxillo- Faciale et Stomatologie found that Botox could drastically reduce pain and increase mouth mobility for nearly three months following the treatment.
“When I heard that a few friends of mine were doing Botox for their jaw pain I immediately had interest,” said University of Miami alumna Gabby Rosenbloom. “The only thing keeping me from it at this point is a general aversion to needles.”
However, she said that once she runs out of options, she’s willing to give it a go, especially since she said she knows people whom the treatment worked for.
If you’re considering Botox treatments for any reason, Maercks said that it’s important to find a qualified doctor. “A lot of people go and get a bunch of treatments that end up not working,” he said “and it’s disheartening because
it could’ve been taken care of a long time ago” without the pain, depression and helpless feelings that sometimes come with these failed treatment attempts.
Charlie Boyd, a junior at UM, said that he got Botox to reduce the spasticity that comes with his cerebral palsy. “I’ve never gotten anything except Botox [for treatment], but I would get it again,” he said. Even after Boyd’s first session, he said, “It definitely helped a lot.”
While Maercks said that he’s never had one of his patients experience complications from Botox, there are always issues to look out for. According to Medical News Today, some negative side effects can include drooping eyelids, nausea and urinary retention.
“There’s definetly a bit of a stigma around plastic surgery and getting “work done” even now,” Rosenbloom said. “But, I do think that people are opening up to the idea that Botox can be used for reasons outside aesthetic and cosmetic.”
Let’s circle back to cosmetic Botox. With so many opinions out there, it can be hard to tell what’s fact and what’s fiction—we’re breaking down three misconceptions.
Myth: Everyone should get the same amount of Botox per area.
According to Danielle Smith MSN, NP-C, the founder of Smith and Co., an injectable only practice, the amount of Botox needed in a specific area relies on many factors: how strong the muscle is, how deep the lines are and how expressive someone is. “It’s funny when we have to graduate from 10 to 12 to 15 milliliters because it’s always a talk,” she said. “I have to tell them that it’s because your muscles keep moving and changing.”
Myth: Botox makes your face look frozen.
While this may happen from time to time, Smith says it’s important to talk to your doctor about how much (or little) face movement you want to have after your procedure. For students who are just starting to see the effects of those late Wharf nights and early Richter Library mornings, Smith said “baby Botox ‘’ is one way to slow down muscle movement by acting as a preventive measure against fine lines and aging. Instead of 20 milliliters per area, she said she typically injects 10 to 12 milliliters.
Myth: Botox is toxic.
While Botox is technically a toxin, the drug is used in such a small dosage that it doesn’t have a significantly harmful effect, according to HealthLine. “I always tell patients if Botox was dangerous, I literally wouldn’t have a pulse, board-certified dermatologist Rita Linker said in a 2021 Business Insider article. “I’m someone who puts, like, 100 units of Botox into my face and neck every four and a half months. And I have so for over a decade.”
words_gabrielle lord. photo & design_sydney burnett.
This article was published in Distraction’s spring 2022 print issue.