The FDA has approved Botox treatment for patients with frequent migraine headaches.
Fortunately, this means that most insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, now cover the treatment. Patients remain responsible for applicable co-payments, but this represents only a small fraction of the total cost.
In patients with chronic migraine headaches, Botox appears to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches by up to 50%. The treatment is relatively quick and simple, taking less than 20 minutes to administer in experienced hands. Side effects are very infrequent, but stiffness may arise around neck injection sites.
Headache relief is usually noted around a week after injections, and Botox for migraines appears to become more effective after multiple treatments.
The prescribed injection areas do include the corrugator, procerus (“eleven” frown lines) and frontalis (forehead) muscles, so many patients achieve aesthetic improvements along with their headache relief. Only patients who continue to have headache symptoms despite traditional therapies may qualify for insurance coverage; for these sufferers, however, Botox can be a double win, reducing headaches and wrinkles, with insurance covering much of the expense.
Hope this helps! I’ve been a Botox clinician for almost 30 years, and would be glad to answer any other questions.
Benjamin H. Ticho, MD
The University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School