What Are the Side Effects of Botox for Migraines?

Man getting a botox injection in his forehead

You’re probably most familiar with Botox for its cosmetic use in smoothing wrinkles and fine lines, but what many people don’t know is that Botox can also be used for medical purposes. When administered to different muscle groups in the face and neck, it can alleviate and help to prevent the painful symptoms of tension headaches and chronic migraines. Of course, with every new treatment it is important to understand exactly what you are getting into—so if you’re considering medical Botox, read on to learn about the potential side effects of Botox for migraines.

Millions of Americans suffer from tension headaches and chronic migraines caused by muscle tension or muscle spasms. When used regularly, Botox can drastically reduce the number of headache episodes per month.

At My Family Dentistry, Dr. Wes is certified to perform Botox procedures for both cosmetic and medical purposes, and can answer any questions that aren’t addressed below.

How does it work?

When injected into the face, Botox temporarily blocks the signals between nerves and muscle, which keeps the affected muscles from contracting. When Botox is injected into specific muscle groups, it reduces the appearance of crow’s feet and fine lines around the eyes and mouth, stopping or minimizing the muscle contractions that contribute to the look of wrinkles. When it is instead injected into specific muscles along the neck and side of the head, the same result is achieved, but with the result being reduced pain from chronic migraines, and a reduced number of migraines per month.

Frequent, long-lasting chronic migraines are often caused by muscle tension or contractions. With regular Botox injections every 12 weeks, the muscles causing the condition will remain relaxed. Treatment may not completely stop them from happening, but regular injections can lead to less tension, less pain, and a future with fewer migraines.

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What are the side effects of Botox for migraines?

Most patients do not have any issues with negative side effects for Botox. For those who do experience any side effects, they are generally quite mild and only last for around 24 hours. Feedback from our patients consistently states that the benefits of Botox for migraines far outweigh any negatives.

However, we always encourage our patients to do as much research as possible whenever they want to begin a new treatment.

The most common side effects of Botox for migraines are:

1. Muscle weakness near the injection site

Because Botox temporarily blocks the signals between your nerves and your muscles, you might experience some slight weakness or drooping in the muscles near the injection site.

2. Bruising, bleeding, pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
Just like any other shot, Botox injections can result in soreness or bruising. It should be very mild, however. If you find yourself experiencing more intense pain or swelling, you might be having an allergic reaction and should contact your dental professional.

3. Headache, muscle stiffness, or neck pain
Particularly for first time patients, Botox can sometimes cause some soreness in the head and neck area.

4. Eye-related issues such as drooping eyelids, dry eyes, double vision, increased sensitivity to light, etc.
If you experience any eye-related side effects, they should be mild and go away on their own within 24-48 hours.

Very rarely, patients will experience an allergic reaction to Botox. If you experience any sort of particularly itchy rash, red welts, asthma, or other side effects that do not go away on their own, consult your dentist immediately.

How can I avoid the side effects?

You may not be able to avoid all side effects, but you can do some things to minimize any pain, soreness, or other temporary issues following the procedure.

Exercise treated muscles
To help settle the Botox into your facial muscles and decrease the risk of it shifting, try exercising the treated areas on your face for the first hour after treatment. Practicing certain facial expressions, raising your eyebrows, and so on might speed along the first few phases of your Botox aftercare.

Sleep on your back
While sleeping in any position you want is by no means guaranteed to negatively affect your Botox injections, sleeping on your back after your treatment, at least for the first night, is generally advised. Doing so avoids putting pressure on the treatment sites and minimizes the possibility of the Botox moving into an unwanted area.

Try not to rub the injection sites
Rubbing or massaging the treated area too soon after treatment can cause the Botox solution to move into untreated portions of the face and prolong your recovery. For the first 24 hours, try to keep yourself from interfering with the injection site. You should also avoid receiving facial massages.

Skip the hat
If you’ve received Botox treatment to your forehead, constricting headwear, such as headbands and tight-brimmed hats, should be avoided for the first few days afterward. Otherwise, this headwear might shift the Botox towards your eyes, potentially leading to droopy eyelids. While this is an extremely rare side effect of Botox, it’s still best to take precautions to prevent it.

Avoid strenuous activity
Raised blood pressure can encourage bruising and swelling during the first three hours after your treatment. As a result, you should avoid strenuous activity, lying down, and staying in overly hot environments, such as saunas.

Avoid alcohol and other blood thinners
Alcohol and blood thinners, similar to overexertion, can cause bruising of the face during the first 24 hours after the injection. Slight pain and headaches can sometimes be side effects in the days after a Botox treatment. If this is the case for you, ask your dentist about what over the counter painkillers would be best for temporary relief.

Is Botox for migraines the right choice for you? If you have any questions or concerns about the side effects of Botox for migraines and tension headaches, don’t hesitate to contact our office today.

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