I Got Botox for Migraines and Ended Up With Nicole Kidman’s Forehead

My forehead looks a lot like Nicole Kidman’s; a sea of frozen muscles that are smooth as a stone that has been washed over by the Atlantic. This hasn’t always been the case. Having suffered excruciating migraines from the age of 7, I spent years of seeking treatments, taking pills, and having doctors on speed dial. When I turned 37, I couldn’t take it anymore and called my needle-wielding neurologist. The thing is, I didn’t intentionally overdose on Botox — I’m not that vain. No, these tri-monthly botulinum toxin type A injections were fundamentally necessary because I’m one of the 18% of American women who suffers chronic head-splitting pain for eight to ten debilitating days a month. And after 30 years, I got poked. And it helped. Plus (we’ll consider this a “bonus”), having skin like an Oscar-winning actress is not a bad side effect either.

June is Migraine Awareness month, and if you have them and don’t know about this treatment, then you should. But if you’re thinking about getting it done, here’s what you need to know beforehand.

First and foremost: Did it work? Short answer, yes. I’m waking up with fewer headaches, have less nausea and way fewer moments of having to wear sunglasses inside to block the light. (Eat your heart out Anna Wintour!) My head still hurts and is always going to, but the duration is a bit shorter, so that’s kind of great. I didn’t wake up post treatment singing and dancing, but I didn’t wake up feeling like my brain was trying to leave my body through my eyes either.

Where do they inject: Everywhere. I’m only sort of kidding. If you’ve ever had Botox, you know that one needle is generally used and they inject your forehead and face. For this, my neurologist used three needles’ full, and injected my forehead, temples, scalp, neck, and shoulders.

Did it hurt? Minor pinches, but afterwards, your neck will be really sore. Some people have really bad neck pain, so please make sure your neuro is experienced (mine is a pro!). I had to use pillows to prop my neck up. And for the love of all that is holy do not lie down or rub your face. Droopy lid is real, and will haunt you for months.

Can I just say I have migraines to get insurance to cover Botox? No. When I went in for my consult, I had to demonstrate that I’d exasperated all my other treatment options. And I had: From beta blockers to anti-depressants to barbiturates and painkillers, I’d tried them all. I even gave myself an ulcer from taking too many OTC drugs (that warning on the Advil box is no joke). My neuro had nothing left to prescribe me that could work except muscle relaxers. Have you tried working while on muscle relaxers?

But about my forehead? So I can no longer frown. It’s a running joke with my friends that my eyebrows don’t move. If I’d known that before I’d gotten the treatment, would I still have done it? Absolutely. I’ve gone from having headaches daily to a few minor ones a week, which is a huge improvement. My ulcer is healing, and my shoulders are a bit less tense. (I once had a Turkish masseuse tell me I was the tensest person he’d ever met and he had no idea how I walked around. Neither do I, buddy.)

How long will it last? Three months, much like regular Botox treatments, and then I go back for more. Per my neuro, there’s a cumulative effect so I may have even fewer migraines after the next one. But we’ll see what my forehead does.

Where do you get this done? Go to a neurologist who does Botox or treats migraines. In New York, there are two headache centers specifically geared to treat migraines (I went to the Weill Cornell center). Outside of the city, consult the Mayo Clinic website or the American Headache and Migraine Association. I went through so many doctors who didn’t understand how to treat me, or thought I was faking or wanted drugs, or just washed their hands of me. It’s essential that you find a good neurologist who takes you seriously.

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