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Botox for urinary incontinence: Does it work?

If you think fans of Botox are just looking to turn back time, think again. The wrinkle-reducer has also proven its power in treating a host of medical conditions, including urinary incontinence.

We turned to Jacob Lucas, DO, urologist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple and director of genitourinary reconstruction for the urology division, to get the facts on the benefits of Botox for a healthy bladder.

What is Botox and how does it work?

Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) is an FDA-approved medication used to treat a number of urinary, cosmetic and neurologic conditions.

Botox works by temporarily paralyzing muscle fibers. In doing so, bothersome or spastic muscles, such as those that cause overactive bladder, are prevented from causing symptoms.

Botox is approved to treat overactive bladder, urinary urgency and frequency, and urge urinary incontinence. The drug has also been shown to improve symptoms of neurogenic bladder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a spinal cord injury.

Side effects of Botox

Although Botox is typically well-tolerated by most people, there are potential side effects of the injections, including:

  • Urinary retention (inability to urinate)
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pain at the injection sites
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)

How long does Botox last?

Approximately 60 to 90 percent of people experience improved symptoms after receiving Botox. Botox typically maintains its effectiveness for an average of six months.

How often can I receive Botox injections?

The minimum amount of time between injections is typically three months. However, this period may be longer in people who receive Botox injections in multiple parts of their body.

What to expect from Botox

Botox injections to the bladder are administered as an office-based procedure. After ensuring you do not have a bladder infection, your physician will perform a cystoscopy (scope in your urinary bladder) and inject small portions of the Botox into numerous locations within your bladder. Before going home, you will be evaluated to make sure you can urinate adequately. The procedure itself takes about five to 10 minutes to perform.

Most injections are done with simple local anesthesia and without sedation. There are typically no restrictions after the procedure. We ask that people are seen two weeks after the procedure to ensure they can adequately empty their bladder.

Alternatives to Botox

Yes, numerous treatments are available for overactive bladder, urinary urgency, frequency, urge urinary incontinence and neurogenic bladder. Treatment options include:

When considering Botox injections, ask for a referral from your primary care provider or find a physician who has experience performing these treatments.

Learn more about your urinary incontinence treatment options.

Botox for urinary incontinence: Does it work?