Botox Treats Incontinence

Feb 22, 2003

It's the hottest treatment to get rid of wrinkles, but now doctors have found that botox can do much more then just help turn back the clock. It's changing the lives of people who suffer with incontinence. CBS 2’s Dr. Mike Rosen has the story.

With nearly 17 million Americans suffering with incontinence, it's no surprise that commercials with lines like this one are bombarding the airways:

"Gotta Go, Gotta Go!"

Thirty-seven-year-old Deanna knows exactly what that feels like, "The frustration level of having to always be concerned about when I was going to have to go to the bathroom, where was I going to be, how quick could I get there, it was always on my mind."

Deanna's doctor, urologist Michael Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has pioneered the use of botox for overactive bladder, yes the power of this bacterial poison has been harnessed not just for wrinkles, but also for facial spasm and even migraines. And now Chancellor discovered botox can help patients with urinary incontinence. It's a problem caused by spasms of the bladder muscle.

"In more than half the patients I can turn their life around, it's an off label use, but in my 15 years in practice, it's been my most effective treatment," says Chancellor.

"The sense of urgency was so intense, I just had to go," says another patient.

Laura is one of chancellor's patients also. She suffered with overactive bladder since she was five. Laura's spasms were so strong often that “Gotta Go” feeling wasn't much of a warning.

"Even short car trips, it used to be questionable, if I would arrive home wet or not wet," said the other patient.

Sadly, that's the way it goes with urge incontinence, now, there are treatments out there, including medications but in the long run, many people stop taking these, because they don't work very well and so what's left are diapers.

Botox works for wrinkles because it paralyzes the facial muscles. When it's used for incontinence, it works by stopping muscle spasms of the bladder, giving the patient more control.

"I can see through the lens, and look into the bladder, where I want to inject the botox," adds Chancellor.

It's a 10-minute out patient procedure done with the patient awake, just slightly sedated. The first injection works for about six months, then the patient needs another injection to maintain bladder control. With each injection, the effects remain longer and retreatment is needed less frequently.

"These are patients that have failed everything, nothing has worked," adds Dr. Chancellor.

Our patients incontinence has been eliminated with botox, she only needs to be re-injected once a year, "My life is completely changed for the better, it's wonderful."

And Deanna who received her first botox treatment over a month ago, already sees improvement, "I enjoy the freedom and the flexibility I have now, and the comfort that I didn't have before."

The procedure is just gaining acceptance, more and more urologists are becoming aware of the power of botox for bladder control.

You should discuss this with your urologist to see if this procedure is right for you.

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