Known for its magical power to erase fine lines and wrinkles, botulinum toxin (aka Botox®) injections are still the king of non-surgical, anti-ageing treatments.
However, botulinum toxin’s powers don’t stop there. As well as its age-defying abilities, Botox® can help alleviate the symptoms of medical conditions, such as Hyperhidrosis, commonly known as excessive sweating, and Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding. This article will help demystify how Botox® can help if you suffer from either of these conditions.
Why do we sweat and when is it ‘excessive’?
The human body is designed to sweat as a way of regulating temperature. This is extremely important in order to maintain optimal functioning of all internal organs and avoid life-threatening situations such as developing blood clots that can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Thus, as soon as your body’s internal temperature starts rising, your body releases a chemical called Acetylcholine which alerts your hypothalamus (a small region in your brain), that it’s time to start cooling you down by producing sweat. Your hypothalamus then activates the eccrine sweat glands, distributed all over your body, and the process of sweating and perspiration begins.
In some people, the nerves responsible for signalling the sweat glands become overactive, even though they haven’t been triggered by physical activity or a rise in temperature, causing what we refer to as excessive sweating. The areas of the body particularly affected by hyperhidrosis are the armpits, palms, soles of the feet and face.
This means you will sweat profusely at rest, during the cold Winter months, whilst sleeping, etc. You might need to change your clothes once or twice a day, want to shower more frequently (although sweat doesn’t equate to body odour), change your bed sheets more often, be self conscious of sweat patches, shaking people’s hands (pre-Covid times, gosh remember that?!), being intimate with someone etc. No amount of deodorant will help. This understandably can have a HUGE influence on your mental well being as it can cause anxiety, effect self-esteem and impact relationships.
How exactly does Botulinum toxin help with excess sweating?
Botulinum toxin is a natural, purified protein that has the ability to temporarily block the secretion of the chemical Acetylcholine that is responsible for activating your body’s sweat glands. Therefore, by blocking or interrupting this chemical messenger, botulinum toxin significantly reduces (and potentially temporarily stops) sweating in the area where it has been injected.
Where can it be injected to reduce sweating?
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you can have botulinum toxin injections in your armpits, and depending on the severity of your condition on other areas, such as the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet, your forehead, scalp, the inframammary fold (underneath the breast in women) and scrotum (in male patients). However, most commonly it is the armpits that are treated.
How severe must hyperhidrosis be for you to have it?
Botulinum toxin is a treatment mainly used in people who suffer from grades three or four on the severity scale of hyperhidrosis. This means they experience from barely tolerable to intolerable symptoms, which have an impact on their daily activities, leading to strong psychological disorders, such as social anxiety, as a result of living with this condition. For these patients, botulinum toxin treatments play a crucial role in reducing the effects of hyperhidrosis.
People with mild hyperhidrosis, however, may only use the treatment when they have an important occasion coming up and want to minimise the chance of sweat stains.
What happens during the procedure?
Your aesthetic doctor may cover the area with numbing cream to minimise any potential discomfort but this is rarely needed for armpits, more so for hands and feet. Then a very fine needle is used to inject tiny amounts of botulinum toxin just under the skin throughout the area of excessive sweating (in a grid pattern, approximately every one to two centimetres.) You may be given multiple injections based on the severity of your condition and the area that needs to be treated. The treatment takes between 5 and 10 minutes, you can then go about your day as normal.
How often should you have Botox® and how quickly can you see results?
Botulinum toxin injections do not cure hyperhidrosis, only help control it. Symptoms tend to improve gradually (usually in about one to two weeks) and return gradually over time when the effects of botulinum toxin start lessening (after about 3 to 4 months).
The length of the effects of botulinum toxin injections for hyperhidrosis are similar to those when used for anti-ageing. You will need to have them every 4 to 6 months to maintain dryness, depending on the severity of your hyperhidrosis and the dose injected.
As well as being an effective treatment for hyperhidrosis, botulinum toxin is widely used to treat other medical conditions, such as migraines and bruxism, most commonly referred to as teeth grinding.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. You may have noticed yourself that you grind your teeth, or perhaps your partner says you grind your teeth in your sleep. Commonly dentists pick up on it, noticing worn teeth enamel and even indentations on your tongue and the inside of your cheek. They may offer a shield for you to wear at night time to protect your teeth from further damage.
Whether it’s a genetic condition or a habit developed as a result of stress or anxiety, the constant clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth causes the masseter muscles (use to chew food) to tighten up and develop, making the lower face appear squarer and protruding.
What is jawline slimming?
Botulinum toxin can be injected into the enlarged jaw muscles, the masseters, to not only reduce the teeth grinding and jaw clenching, but also create a slimmer jawline.
Jawline slimming is a non-surgical, cosmetic procedure which uses botulinum toxin injections to reduce a prominent or asymmetric jaw line caused by enlarged masseter muscles. It is popular in East Asian cultures but increasingly being requested in the UK too.
How can Botox® injections help?
Botox® blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles preventing contraction. By preventing contraction the masseter muscle will reduce in strength, cease to grow in size, and will begin to atrophy, reducing its prominence. This results in a noticeable reduction of teeth grinding (dentists often comment on the improvements seen in teeth health), and a visible slimming of the lower face as the large masseter muscle decreases in size.
Injecting botulinum toxin in your jawline can also help reduce the following symptoms:
- pain around your jaw, ear and temple
- clicking, popping or grinding noises when you move your jaw
- a headache around your temples
- difficulty opening your mouth fully
- your jaw locking when you open your mouth
What does treatment involve?
The treatment itself is very quick, less than 5 minutes, with no downtime. The results are seen within 2 weeks and will last between three and five months, depending on how strong the muscle is and severely you clench your jaw/grind your teeth.
Before any of the above treatments, you will be fully informed of the risks and benefits, and a comprehensive medical history and examination will be done to ensure there are no contraindications that prevent you from having botulinum toxin injections.
If you suffer from any of these medical conditions and would like to find out more about how botulinum toxin can help you manage the symptoms, you can book a free consultation here.