We've all heard about what Botox can do for cosmetic uses, wiping away the years by getting rid of wrinkles. Now, doctors in Philadelphia are using it for medical reasons. It's helping bring relief to people who live with a chronic stomach condition.
Botox. You know it can erase the signs of aging. Now, the toxin is being used to treat a chronic condition known as gastroparesis.
"Gastroparesis is where there is delayed emptying of the stomach after a meal. It may be for solid food or for liquids, which have been taken in by the patient," says gastroenterologist Frank Friedenberg, M.D., of Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.
The condition causes a person to feel full after just a small meal. It also causes bouts of nausea, upset stomach and bloating.
Medications offer relief but often with side effects like restlessness and fatigue. Some doctors are now turning to Botox as an alternative to drug therapy.
Dr. Friedenberg says, "The idea behind Botox is that it's a very local treatment, so you do not get side effects related to it, and it works right in the area that is involved with gastroparesis."
Botox is injected into the muscle that sits at the end of the stomach. There, it goes to work. "The muscle relaxes and then there is more rapid emptying of the stomach for solids and for liquids," Dr. Friedenberg says.
There's good reason to believe Botox will mean success. Up to half of study participants showed improvement after the procedure. And there's more good news. Doctors say the treatment is not painful, and a sedative is given before the 15-minute procedure begins. The benefits usually last between three months and six months, so repeat treatments are necessary.
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