The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    More than just a pretty face


    A few years ago, junior Michelle Fredericks went under the knife for a procedure that would alter her appearance – she had a nose job.

    Frederick’s surgery, however, was not cosmetic, but rather to treat a health condition. Despite having plastic surgery under her belt, the junior said she would never undergo any cosmetic surgeries or non-surgical procedures just to enhance her features.

    “I think people should be who they are naturally,” she said.

    But Fredricks said she does support using common cosmetic treatments, such as plastic surgery or drugs, for non-cosmetic, clinical purposes.

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    “If it helps you physically, it’s a good thing,” she said.

    Botox, commonly used to treat facial skin wrinkling, is one such drug. Although the injection is popular for cosmetic reasons, some doctors are beginning to use Botox to treat medical conditions that involve severe pain, muscle spasms and even excessive sweating.

    Botulinum toxin, or Botox, is a harmful toxin often associated with deadly forms of food poisoning, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site. In 1989, the Food and Drug Administration approved a purified form of the toxin to treat patients with crossed eyes. Since then, the drug has been used to treat muscle spasms and other conditions involving muscle contractions or pain.

    Botox works by temporarily paralyzing muscles that cause contractions, according to the Botox Cosmetics Web site.

    Barb Bridell, office manager of the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Eau Claire, 3221 Stein Blvd., said her clinic uses Botox on patients looking to get rid of wrinkles.

    Wrinkles in the face are caused by muscle contractions. Botox relaxes the muscle in the face, reducing the appearance of lines. Results often last three to six months and patients usually have injections two times a year, she said.

    While research is still being conducted regarding the non-cosmetic use of Botox, many patients are using the wrinkle-erasing injection as treatment for a variety of conditions, according to the FDA Web site.

    Jodi Flash, clinic manager of Parkinson Dermatology in Spooner, said her clinic uses Botox injections to treat patients with hyperhydrosis, or excessive under arm sweating, and is the only clinic in the area to do so.

    While many hyperhydrosis sufferers use over the counter antiperspirants to treat their condition, Botox paralyzes the sweat glands under the arm, reducing their needs for other treatments, she said. While results are temporary, a patient will notice a difference as soon as they receive treatment, she said. Flash went on to add that generally patients who receive multiple treatments will see longer lasting results after each successive treatment, eventually saving the patient money on other hyperhyrdosis treatments.

    The procedure is relatively common, Flash said, but one major drawback to Botox injections some insurance companies have deemed the treatment experimental and will not cover the costs.

    Botox has also been used to treat chronic pain such as Myofascial Pain Syndrome, a condition that affects muscles and connective tissue covering muscles, according to an article by Krishna Baddigam of the Pain Clinic of Northwestern Wisconsin, 1400 Bellinger St.

    The condition is characterized by spots of persistently contracted muscle tissue, which results in chronic pain. Baddigam uses Botox injections as one treatment option for patients with MPS because the drug blocks the nervous system’s ability to initiate muscle contraction and block motor function, according to the article. One drawback, however, is that the injections can be quite painful and results, as typical to the drug, are only temporary and patients may need multiple treatments.

    Heidi Jarecki of the Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic, 2715 Damon St., is another doctor who uses Botox in a non-cosmetic way. Benign Essential Blepharospasm is a condition involving repeated, involuntary eye spasms or ticks, according to an article written by Jarecki. Jarecki reported 90 percent of BEB patients’ eye squeezing symptoms improved after receiving Botox injections. Botox in BEB sufferers relaxes the muscles in the face and decreases the strength of contractions. But these treatments are also temporary and patients may need more treatments up to every three months to find relief.

    While Botox, known for being a paralyzing agent, does show promise for helping treat chronic conditions, the drug is still being tested and its uses is frequently not covered by health insurance providers, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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    More than just a pretty face