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Urogynecologist, botox offers new hope to women with overactive bladders
Botulinum toxin, best known by its trade name Botox, has long been used to prevent facial wrinkles.
But did you know it also is being used to treat the "tinkles" caused by urinary incontinence?
"All too many women suffer in silence for years because they are too embarrassed to seek the help they need or don't know about the treatments available to them," says uro-gynecologist Simon Patton, MD, of Ascension Medical Group Via Christi, who specializes in female pelvic medicine, treating all types of urinary incontinence and conditions such as uterine and bladder prolapse.
Here's how the treatment with Botox works.
Botox is injected into the bladder muscle, helping relax the overactive bladder muscles causing the condition. Most women see improvement within about a week, although the full effect can take up to two weeks.
It is approximately a five-minute procedure performed either under local or general anesthesia.
"It's not a permanent fix, but its prolonged effect in the bladder can last up to six to eight months, which is three to four times longer than what is typical for other muscles," says Dr. Patton.
The procedure is covered by Medicare and most private insurors.
Dr. Patton says that it's typically used as a "third line of defense" for women who suffer with age-related overactive bladder. The first is to modify behaviors that may be irritating the bladder. The second is medication therapy, although that can result in side effects and may not be an option for some women.
Other third line of defense options include sacral neuromodulation, which essentially is a pacemaker for the bladder, and tibial nerve stimulation, which is done in a dozen 30-minute session
If you are among the one in three women with a bladder issue, the first step is to discuss it with your doctor.
The next step is to determine what type or types of urinary incontinence you are experiencing and determine what treatment options may help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
"If you're talking about it with girlfriends, perhaps you should be discussing it with your doctor," says Lauren Muzingo-Boring, RN, who works with Dr. Patton in the AMG Via Christi Urogynecology clinic.