In the 1980s, Botox® was developed and approved by the FDA for the treatment of certain eye muscle disorders. Shortly thereafter, Botox gained acclaim as a cosmetic product to treat wrinkles. Since the late 1990s, it has been used to treat disorders of the bladder, primarily overactive bladder. Doctors typically try to treat incontinence with medication before using Botox, but Botox is an extremely effective treatment for bladder leakage.
How Botox for Bladder Control Works
Botox relieves symptoms of urge incontinence by calming the nerves that overstimulate your bladder. It relaxes bladder muscles, allowing the bladder to store larger volumes of urine and reducing overactive bladder episodes. The benefits last from 6-12 months, and the procedure can be repeated if successful. A major study found that men and women given Botox used the bathroom 1 to 2 time less often after treatment.
Botox Injections Procedure for Incontinence
To treat incontinence, Botox is injected into the bladder muscle using a specialized instrument called a cystoscope that allows the physician to look at the bladder’s inner lining. The procedure takes 15 minutes or less, requires no incisions, and can be performed under general or local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. There are few or no restrictions following the procedure – you can return to work and regular activities immediately. It may take two weeks to see any results from the Botox procedure, but a recent study found that four in ten women became completely continent after six weeks and remained continent up to 6 months after the procedure.
Women who are currently pregnant cannot have Botox treatment for incontinence, but Botox is an alternative to surgical treatments for women who plan to become pregnant. Surgical treatments such as the bladder sling are not recommended for women who are planning to have children because pregnancy reverses the positive effects. Botox treatment however, can be used safely in between pregnancies.
Side Effects of Botox for Incontinence
Like any medical procedure, there are some side effects of using Botox to treat bladder leakage. After treatment, there is a greater risk of urinary tract infections and urinary retention. Patients are advised to wait at least 12 weeks between treatments to reduce the chance of side effects.
Don’t let yourself or a loved one suffer with urinary or bowel incontinence without treatment. Schedule an appointment at the Incontinence Institute today by using the contact form or calling our discrete, medical concierge.