MIAMI (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's well known for its cosmetic uses --
but doctors say Botox may also be the key to helping millions of Americans
that suffer from overactive bladders.
It's ranked among the 10 most common chronic medical conditions and impacts
nearly 34 million people. More than half don't find relief through
traditional treatments, so one woman turned to an experimental injection for
It's a painful and annoying problem that has plagued 29-year-old Claudia
Angel for the past six years.
“If you’re going to the restroom a couple times a day, you don’t really
notice it, but when the numbers start adding up to where it’s 40, 50, 60
times a day … the pain you get from it, the physical pain is not fun at
all," Angel told Ivanhoe.
She tried medications, pelvic exercises, even an implant, but nothing
relieved her overactive bladder.
“I didn’t know what to do anymore," Angel said. "I thought 'Oh my God, this
is going to be the rest of my life?' And it’s not fun."
Angel became a test patient for an experimental treatment. Under local
anesthesia, urologist Angelo Gousse, M.D., of the UM Miller School of
Medicine in Miami, Fla., threads a needle through a scope with a camera
mounted on it. As it passes through the urethra, Dr. Gousse injects Botox --
the same treatment for wrinkles -- directly into the bladder.
“What it does is it tends to kind of numb, if you would, not only the
muscle, but also the nerves that are located within the wall of the urinary
bladder, and so for this reason, it also helps significantly with the sense
of urgency," Dr. Gousse explained to Ivanhoe.
Doctors say 75 percent of patients report significant improvement in
symptoms and in their quality of life.
Angel felt the difference after her first treatment.
“Awesome," she said. "I was very excited the first day that I noticed it. I
called my husband and I said, 'Do you know I haven’t gone to the bathroom in
like eight hours?'”
Now, for the first time in years, she feels like she's in control.
The Botox procedure is done on an outpatient basis and patients can return
to work the same day. Each treatment lasts four to six months. Angel says
her Botox injections were not covered by insurance, and the cost is about
$1,000 per treatment. Though the injection is given in non-toxic amounts,
some patients may suffer retention problems from the injections.