Botox has been used for the treatment of wrinkles, excessive sweating problems and other medical applications where a muscle’s action needed to be blocked. A few years ago, it was discovered that botox seemed to help reduce migraine headaches after patients who were injected for cosmetic purposes reported a reduction in their headaches. Now, a recent study has found another use -- botox injected into the scalp may help re-grow hair.
A 2010 pilot study took place in Canada, testing 50 men with male patterned baldness or androgenic alopecia. The men were first observed for a 12-week baseline period then they were injected with 150 units of Botulinum toxin A (BTX A) followed by a second injection 24 weeks later.
According to Journal Watch Dermatology, “In the 40 patients who completed the study, mean hair counts increased 18% from baseline to 48 weeks after the initial injection, a statistically significant change. Hair loss was also significantly reduced, by a mean of 39%.”
Assessment of hair re-growth was measured in 2 cm areas of the scalp and hair loss was determined by using a lint roller to pick up hair on the patient’s pillow and from results of questionnaires.
Back in 2009, a cosmetic surgeon Dr. Ourian also observed a similar result from Botox use. He experimented using botox to relieve his mother’s migraines, a side effect from chemotherapy.
He discovered she not only had relief from her migraines but she had increased hair growth from hair follicle cells that had been damaged from the chemotherapy. He proceeded to use Botox off-label in select patients and observed that the Botox injections appeared to increase their hair growth as well.
The proposed action behind the use of Botox to increase hair growth is that Botox paralyzes the scalp muscles, allowing more blood flow and more oxygen to reach the scalp skin. Androgenic alopecia is thought to be affected by elevated levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). However, the increased oxygen reduces the levels of DHT that come in contact with the hair follicles.
The researchers observed that minoxidil has a similar hair re-growth rate of 18 percent and they hypothesize that perhaps it works by the same mechanism, by increasing oxygen to the scalp skin, reducing DHT levels.
Botox can be a useful medication but there are precautions that physicians and patients need to be aware of. Dr. Ourian indicates that temporary swelling, pain, bruising, etc. may occur. The FDA has released various alerts warning of potential side effects from botox use, so strict labeling is now required.
New uses of medications have often been found by using them off-label for another purpose. This is how Botox was found to help migraines in the first place. Further research would be needed to determine if Botox has a place in the list of drugs used for hair regrowth.
Growing Hair with Botox. Journal Watch Dermatology. Retrieved 25, Nov. 2011. http://dermatology.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2011/1110/1?q=etoc_jwderm
Freund, Brian J. D.D.S., M.D.; Schwartz, Marvin D.D.S., M.Sc.. Treatment of Male Pattern Baldness with Botulinum Toxin: A Pilot Study. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: November 2010 - Volume 126 - Issue 5 - pp 246e-248e http://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Fulltext/2010/11000/Treatment_of_M...
New Hair Loss Treatment with BOTOX. (PRWEB) February 4, 2009. Retrieved 25, Nov. 2011. http://www.prweb.com/releases/botoxhairlossprevention/baldness_propecia/...
Botox and Botox Cosmetic (Botulinum toxin Type A) and Myobloc (Botulinum toxin Type B). FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Adminstraion. Retrieved 25, Nov. 2011.
Edited by Malu Banuelos