The use of Botox for weight loss needs further research before it becomes a standard accepted treatment for obesity.
Injection of Botox into the stomach of obese individuals has been shown to delay gastric emptying and make them feel full sooner, thus altering the amount of food they eat and causing them to lose weight.
The Study on Botox for weight loss
A study of 115 patients who underwent intragastric botulinum toxin A (Botox) injections has revealed promising results. Botox was injected into the stomach of some of the subjects while a placebo was injected into the stomach of others. Pre-study weight was compared to the post-injection weight. The group that received the Botox injections in their stomachs showed consistent results, and the study authors concluded that Botox for weight loss is an effective treatment.
Individuals who are overweight are often found to suffer from delayed feelings of satiation. Their digestive tract does not send signals of feeling full to the brain quickly enough, thereby tricking the brain into believing the person is still hungry. The hormone ghrelin is associated with increased appetite and plays an important role in weight management. Excess levels of this hunger hormone ghrelin result in a miscommunication between the digestive tract and the brain. Secondly, in obese individuals, the stomach tends to empty its contents into the small intestine at a much faster pace than normal. This fast emptying causes the blood sugar level to rise up abruptly, and this, in turn, leads to accumulation of fat and thereby obesity.
Botox: Mechanism of Action
Botox works by addressing this miscommunication of a feeling of satiety between the gut and the brain in obese individuals. Botox is a neurotoxin that is derived from bacteria. Its mechanism of action is by blocking the action of certain chemicals at the junction of nerves and muscles, resulting in what is essentially a temporary paralysis of the muscle. When Botox is injected into the stomach, it leads to the food remaining in the stomach for a longer time, thus leading to stretching of the stomach and a feeling of satiety. The brain registers this signal of feeling full and the person finds it easy to stop eating. Botox is injected into the deep layers of the stomach muscle, which decreases the contractions that cause the food to be propelled from the stomach to the intestine. This leads to a feeling of satiety after eating a smaller amount of food than usual.
Complications and Criticisms
The amount of Botox that is injected into the stomach for weight loss purposes must be carefully controlled, as should the location of the injection within the stomach.Some dietary restrictions are prescribed in combination with the Botox. While more in-depth studies are needed to ensure that the procedure is safe, the initial analysis and study results have revealed promising results. Botox for weight loss, when combined with dietary modifications and lifestyle changes, has shown better results. It is advisable to eat a healthy and nutritious diet in consultation with a dietitian and embark upon an exercise program before considering Botox for weight loss.
Some doctors sustain that the temporary benefits of Botox for weight loss are not an effective treatment for obesity. While Botox can prove to be a good kick-start to a weight loss program, the benefits do not last. Behavior and lifestyle modification, on the other hand, have longstanding benefits on not only the weight but also the overall health of an individual. Other doctors caution that Botox for weight loss is an off-label procedure and the risks have not been fully understood yet.
Cost and Results
The injection of Botox for weight loss is covered by insurance or the National Social Security Fund, and the procedure is an out-of-pocket expense for patients. Doctors who perform this procedure have reported that when patients combine Botox injections in the stomach with broader lifestyle changes, they can expect an additional weight loss of as much as 10 kg over a six month period. For an obese individual struggling with weight loss, this bonus can mean the difference between staying motivated and giving up. Botox for weight loss is also ideal for people with relatively smaller weight loss goals of 10-15 kg.
In the meantime, obese patients who wish to consider this treatment should undergo Botox for weight loss under the supervision of a qualified physician.