Conference Coverage

Data back botulinum toxin for facial flushing, androgenetic alopecia


 

EXPERT ANALYSIS FROM SDEF HAWAII DERMATOLOGY SEMINAR

– The list of nontraditional uses for botulinum toxin type A includes facial flushing, menopausal hot flashes, and androgenetic alopecia, Mark Rubin, MD, said at the Hawaii Dermatology Seminar provided by Global Academy for Medical Education/Skin Disease Education Foundation.

Dr. Mark Rubin, private practice, Beverly Hills, Ca

Dr. Mark Rubin

There are data to support these uses, and there are data associating botulinum toxin treatment with improvement in depression, which suggest the effect may not be necessarily be related to improvement in appearance, said Dr. Rubin, who is in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif., and is associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego.

Facial flushing: Very few people use botulinum toxin for facial flushing, but Dr. Rubin, who is among those who do not, described the data as “impressive.” Several trials, he noted, have found that very small doses can significantly reduce the amount of facial erythema, including an average 45% reduction after 60 days in one trial of 24 women (Acta Med Iran. 2016 Jul;54[7]:454-7).

In another study of 25 patients with facial erythema related to rosacea who were treated with 14-45 units intradermally to the nasal tip, bridge, and alae, there were statistically significant improvements in erythema 1, 2, and 3 months after treatment among the 15 with complete data (Dermatol Surg. 2015 Jan;41 Suppl 1:S9-16).

“If you’re using very small doses and they’re intradermal, there really is minimal risk you’re going to have a problem by inadvertently affecting musculature” in these patients, Dr. Rubin commented.

In another study of 9 patients with rosacea, treatment with incobotulinumtoxinA was associated with a significant reduction in erythema, papules, pustules, and telangiectasias, up to 15 weeks, compared with saline. The treatment patients also experienced less burning and stinging that did those who received saline (J Drugs Dermatol. 2017 Jun 1;16[6]:549-54.)

Menopausal hot flashes: Dr. Rubin described one study of 60 patients with severe hot flashes that compared saline with botulinum toxin, injected in 40 sites (2 units per site), including the neck, hairline, scalp, and chest. At 60 days’ follow-up, those treated with botulinum toxin had a significant reduction in sweating and in the number and severity of hot flashes; these women also had improved mood in terms of depression and irritability (Dermatol Surg. 2011 Nov;37[11]:1579-83).

Androgenetic alopecia: In a 60-week study of 50 men with androgenetic alopecia (Hamilton ratings of II-IV), 150 units of botulinum toxin A was injected into the scalp muscles (temporalis, frontalis, periauricular, and occipital), and repeated 6 months later (Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010 Nov;126[5]:246e-8e). Among the 40 patients who completed the trial, 75% had a response, and from baseline to 48 weeks, there was an 18% increase in mean hair counts in a 2 cm area, and a“profound” 39% reduction in hair loss (as measured by hair counts on the pillow in the morning), Dr. Rubin noted.

“Presumably, this is because if you’re relaxing the scalp muscles you’re getting increased blood flow into the scalp,” including increased oxygenation, which decreases the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone and increases the conversion of testosterone to estradiol, he said.

In another study, 8 of 10 patients with androgenic alopecia has “good to excellent” results 24 weeks after botulinum toxin injections with 5 units per site at 30 sites. Referring to the increasing popularity of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections for male pattern alopecia, Dr. Rubin said that in his opinion “PRP certainly doesn’t do any better” than botulinum toxin for male pattern alopecia and is a much more involved injection, “so this is definitely something worth considering if you have more people coming into your practice thinking about injections for male pattern alopecia.”

Pore size and sebum production: A 2019 review of published studies of botulinum toxin A looking at the effect on sebum and pore size, Dr. Rubin said, found that most studies “suggest it does actually reduce pore size and sebum production” (J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019 Apr;18[2]:451-7).

This can be considered an option for those patients concerned about pore size, who are not satisfied with results of retinoid or laser treatment, he commented. This approach may not have an effect in all patients, so he advised first treating a small trial area, and photographing patients to record their level of improvement. “It’s rarely profound, but it’s additive, it’s one more thing you can do.”

Depression: These data include a study of 30 patients with major depression, half who received one onabotulinumtoxinA injection in the glabellar area as adjunctive treatment of depression. After 6 weeks, those who were treated had an average of 47% reduction in depression scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, compared with an average 9% reduction among those on placebo (J Psychiatr Res. 2012 May;46[5]:574-81). Two recent studies have had similar results, according to Dr. Rubin.

Results of another study, he said, raise the question of whether patients are less depressed because they are pleased with the cosmetic effects or if there is another explanation (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 Jan;74[1]:171-3.e1). The study, which included 59 patients with depression treated in the glabellar areas with botulinum toxin injections, found no association between severity of the furrows and degree of depression or between the degree of furrow correction and degree of relief from depression after treatment. “So the patients who had the most improvement were not necessarily the ones who were the least depressed afterwards,” he said.

These data imply that something else may be occurring that is not necessarily muscle related, he said.

Dr. Rubin said he had no relevant disclosures. SDEF/Global Academy for Medical Education and this news organization are owned by the same parent company.

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