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From skeptic to true believer

Initially, I feared Botox. The idea of injecting toxic bacteria into my body was counterintuitive. For years I had been ridiculing people for using Botox as a cosmetic procedure. The very thought of using it to treat migraine seemed hypocritical. It also felt superficial and vain. Yet over time, it became clear that preventive oral medications were not all that effective for me. Botox appeared to be the next logical step. I was able to overcome my initial fears by talking to lots of patients about their experiences. Considering the combined side effects of the personal pharmacy in my purse, concerns about the risks of Botox slowly faded.

These photos were taken during my third round of injections. Yes, it’s really me and the guy in the lab coat really is my headache doctor. Huge thanks to Dr. Syed for being a good sport and to his anonymous medical student who graciously photographed the whole process.

End results

I’ve had 5 rounds of Botox injections since December 2014. Between the fourth and fifth appointments, I was able to wean off of all other preventive medications. Thanks to the positive results, I no longer have to take any other preventives.

Side effects

  • Eyebrow and eyelid drooping lasted 24 weeks
  • Difficulty swallowing occurred briefly for a few hours after the second round of injections
  • Acne-like rash appeared after the third round and lasted 12 weeks

Therapeutic Benefits

  • Migraine attack frequency dropped from 15+ per month to 4 per month
  • Chronic cluster headache reversed to episodic for the first time in 15 years
  • Two brief cluster cycles of >3 attacks each lasting >1 week each
  • Attacks respond better to abortive treatment, rarely lasting more than 2 hours
  • Not one round of prednisone all year!
  • Not a single visit to the emergency room all year!

If I had to cope with permanent drooping eyebrows and a rash on my forehead, I’d still show up for my injections every 12 weeks. The relief I feel is so much better than any of the side effects I’ve had to face so far. This is the first preventive treatment in 41 years to actually work.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • RobertCan
    3 years ago

    So glad to hear its working for some! Seven year botox patient here. Been doing it since before the US FDA approved it for migraines. My experience was initially wonderful. It was around year three that I began to experience declining efficacy. Seven years out, I stopped taking botox with no appreciable difference in migraine occurrence. It simply stopped working for me.

    Botox is another tool in our toolbox for managing the ever-changing migraine monster. And therein lies the problem. Its been my experience that migraines are constant evolving. What works today may not work tomorrow. But I appreciated the relief botox provided.

    Wishing you all a pain-free day! – robert

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    As a nurse I understood the implications of botulinim toxin better than many, and I’d always said I would have to be pretty desperate to consider it. A few years later here I am, waiting for my Botox injections! Yes, I’m sold on them, and they keep the painful migraines at bay. Unfortunately they don’t do anything for my vestibular or optical migraines, but I’m happy for the level of function they do provide.

  • Holly H
    3 years ago

    Tammy, I too feared the Botox at first, but couldn’t live with the pain any longer and the prevention meds didn’t seem to be working well for me. I’ve been on them about as long as you have now, and I wanted to ask you if you have had missed any of you scheduled injections for any reason, and if so, what reaction did it have on your headaches? In January, I had to change insurance providers. I was scheduled for my 12 week injections on January 5th, but the new insurance takes 15-30 DAYS to approve such requests for treatment!! I was not able to get my injections until the second week of February!! The entire month of January was one long +10 migraine. No abortive meds worked. I lived in the dark and under ice packs. When I finally got my injections, the injection pain was multiplied x10. I almost jumped off the table because my head was so sore. I just wondered if anyone else has had this reaction to missing a dose? I’m back to normal now, but I will never miss a dose again, even if I have to pay out of pocket, and submit later for reimbursement.

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    Missing injections always results in more painful migraines for me too.

  • tspinks
    3 years ago

    I’m on my second round of botox. Second injection about 2 weeks ago. I became a believer after my first injection, migraines and headaches reduced for about 1 month within the 3 month period. Don’t let anyone fool you, the shots hurt. I started this round with a severe migraine that still won’t let go. I’m hoping for the same results you have had. Thanks for your post!

  • RBarker
    3 years ago

    I mentioned to my neurologist that I had the same problem after round 1 and he started giving me Cambia to abort the migraine following injections. I just got round 6 today and it has worked every time.

  • Panda2015
    3 years ago

    Wow, that’s great news! Thank you for sharing, and for being so candid and specific.

    Do you know what caused the difficulty in swallowing after your 2nd round? I’m curious about this.

  • Tammy Rome author
    3 years ago

    The difficulty swallowing is a documented side effect if the medicine spreads to surrounding tissues. Since some of the injections are in the neck, it is possible to have some affect on the neck muscles. The experience was very brief and never caused me any problems breathing or eating.

  • Luna
    3 years ago

    That is really good news for you!!!.

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