Botox is well known for ironing out wrinkles, with many celebs such as Demi Moore and Madonna reportedly benefiting from its cosmetic effects.
But it's now making a new name for itself in bladder control. That's right it's now being used to iron out the bladder. A simple injection of the toxin into the bladder lining could bring relief to some of the nearly 13 percent of Australian men and 37 percent of Australian women who, according to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, are affected by urinary incontinence.
Most people do not know that Botox has many more uses than just cosmetic ones, some of them are most unexpected!
Back in February last year Christopher Chapple, a visiting professor at Sheffield Hallam University, said poisonous botulinum toxin, more commonly known as botox, could be used therapeutically to treat bladder storage and sensation problems such as incontinence and cystitis.
Professor Chapple, who carried out new research into the treatment at the university's Biomedical Research Centre, said treatment with botulinum toxin has been successful in 80 percent of cases. "Work is still ongoing, but there is no doubt that it is a major advance that will really improve sufferers' quality of life," he said.
"The bladder normally stores urine at a low pressure, until it can be passed at a socially acceptable time, but some people have problems storing urine and need to go frequently, and urgently. Problems can occur with age, or sometimes as the result of a neurological disorder such as multiple sclerosis."
Mohammad Shamim Khan, a consultant urologist in London says "pregnancy can bring it on and the incidence increases with age. The cause is not properly understood, although it's thought to be linked to changes in the nervous system.''
Can pelvic floor exercises help?
''Pelvic floor exercises can help, as can drug therapy. Anticholinergic tablets block the release of messages from the nerves that control the bladder's contractions and are effective in 60 percent of sufferers. But others may have to resort to surgery to tighten or support the muscles."
So how does Botox help?
Professor Chapple says doctors are now realising the role of the bladder lining as the cause of problems to do with frequent or painful passing of urine.
"By injecting the patient's bladder lining with botulinum toxin, we can block the release of nerve transmitter substances and sensory nerves, which means that the patient doesn't feel the need to go to the toilet as often," he said. "It also means we don't have to rely on intensive drug therapy, or invasive surgery.
"Imagine you've come home after a few drinks, you need to pee, and you're fumbling to get the key in the door that's the sensation some people experience every day."
Botox is highly toxic but is used in minute doses to control muscle spasms. The simple bladder lining treatment lasts between three and six months, and can be administered to outpatients under local anaesthetic.