So I tried botox to help my TMJ…

The other day I ran into Dr. Kamlyn Pillay at the Longevity/Dermalogica/ex-Miss SA bash. We had a nice little catch up, but mostly I bitched about the killer tension headache that was ruining my day. I’m an angst-riddled jaw clencher, you see… and while I don’t grind my teeth at night, I tend to subconsciously ‘bite’ (usually when I’m concentrating or typing – which is all the time) in such a way that causes the muscles in the top of my head, usually the left hand side, to go into a merry little spasm. (It’s called TMJ and you can read more about it over here.) This is why I’m probably going to die of liver failure in my 40’s due to all the Adco-dol (my fave, super-cheap OTC muscle relaxant) I tend to pop like Smarties.

Anyway, according to Dr. P, if you inject a bit of botox into certain muscles in your lower jar (as well as one or two in the temple), you can weaken them to the extent that they can’t seize up and give you headaches. He very kindly offered to give me a li’l blitzing and, being a big fan of botox in general and desp to try anything that could offer relief, I immediately took him up on it.

Dr. Kamlyn Pillay. He’s done like a zillion fancy aesthetics courses in Europe and the states, just so you know… (And sorry girls, he’s v. happily married to a seriyas natural beauty…)

Upon arrival at the Wembley Clinic where Dr. Pillay works as the Medical Director, I had a numbing lotion rubbed into my jaw. It kicked in within minutes so by the time he actually needled me it only took a matter of minutes and didn’t hurt a bit. Despite this, he still gives your arm a gentle squeeze after each and every shot and asks if you’re okay making him one of the sweetest, kindest aesthetic docs you’ll ever meet. (When he showed me a few pics of various procedures he’d done, I commented that one of the women’s before shots looked ‘uber rough’ like she ‘worked in a German prison’ and he was all ‘Shaaaammme!!! She’s the nicest, sweetest lady you’ll ever meet…’ and I immediately felt like a horrible, evil cow. Hee hee…)

Soft lighting and fancy faux fur throws. That’s how they roll at Wembley darlings…

Anyway, for those of you who haven’t had botox, you might not know that it doesn’t work straight away. You need to wait around five days for the effects to kick in. Thus, it was on day four that I began to notice that the muscles in my lower jaw where starting to ache. Not a lot, mind you. Just a tad. As though I’d strained them after a little exercise… and then it hit me… as some of my bad-ass overactive jaw muscles had been ‘put to sleep’ with botox, my bod STILL wanted to clench, so it was using other little muscles that it usually never bothered with to do the job. Happily, the ‘new’ muscles weren’t as strong (from year and years of contraction) that they couldn’t pull my scalp into the killer muscle spasms I was used to. Also, after a day or two, they adjusted and stopped feeling achy.

Now, about three weeks in, I can tell you this: Dr. P’s botox HAS made a difference. While it hasn’t stopped my tension headaches all together, I now get them much less often and when I do, their intensity is definitely less severe. I know this because I tend to go through Addie’s like water, but I’m now pulling them out of my bag much less frequently.

If you’re a jaw clencher or teeth grinder, I can definitely recommend you give botox a bash. Since getting it done, I’ve discovered it’s hardly a weird, experimental resolve in that I’ve now met loads of people who’ve also given it a go. There has been the odd person for whom it didn’t work, but most have said it definitely helped or completely sorted them out. Another benefit? If you keep on doing it (lets say once every four months or so), you’ll end up atrophying those over active jaw muscles. This means they kind of shrivel up and result in a much less strong-looking jaw line which, 9 times out of 10, is much more flattering. Check it out:

Before and afters of botox-induced jaw reduction.

(The above image is courtesy of Dermaskin Clinics in the UK).

In terms of cost, this can vary as it depends on how many units of botox you need. To blitz my jaw, it probably cost around R1 200, maybe less.

Want to make a booking with Dr. P? Give the Wembley Clinic a ring on (021)  4656 557.  They’re situated in Gardens in Wembley Square where Virgin Active is and are currently running a fab spa special; if you book a mani for you and friend for R190 each, you’ll both get a free pedi!

Thanks Dr. P. – you’re a total gem and I’ll be dropping in shortly with a little freshly baked somethin’ somethin’ to show my appreciation sometime next week.

Love, love


6 thoughts on “So I tried botox to help my TMJ…

  1. Hi my names Sara, I’m 25 from England. Today I had my first Botox injections, two in my temples and two in my jaw muscles (masseter?) I’ve been so nervous as its been such a long road to here and the consultants have told me I should feel some relief in 5 days, but if I don’t they don’t know what other option there is ( really sympathetic consultant bless him ).

    So anyway, hearing that it’s the last resort really shook me up and I’ve felt frightened all day that it might not work, but having read your article I’m feeling a lot more positive that it should work. It’s very strange being on that much medication that I can’t currently work. My own patients are asking after me rather then the other day around which is very strange indeed.

    Just wanted to thank you, you really have calmed me down

    1. Hi Sara! So glad to hear my story’s helped. How’s it going? Did you also notice a bit of stiffness when the lazier muscles kicked in?

  2. Hi there, I had my masseters injected today, however it hurt no more than normal botox injections. I expected it to be painful as it is muscle related. Did yours hurt while being injected?

    Thank you

    1. Hi hun! Nope, it didn’t hurt at all. Botox needles actually don’t ever actually touch your muscles. (Most people think that that’s how it works but it’s not the case. Several docs have explained it to me.) Botox works by being injected into the area where it spreads around and slowly dissolves the tiny little nerve endings that touch the muscle and cause it to move. Once those little end bits of your never are gone, they can’t relay the message from your brain to that muscle which is why that muscle just stops working. Over time, those little nerve endings grow back (just like your finger nails) and when they do that muscle gets the message and starts moving again. That’s essentially what happens when Botox ‘wears off’. Does that make sense? But the short answer is don’t worry, it sounds like your procedure went fine. The only ache (that you adjust to) comes later when the muscles surrounding the ones you got paralysed start having to work more than usual to pick up the slack. But like I said you adjust to that, the same way your legs feel stiff after a new work out and then they get used to it.

  3. Thank you very much, you’ve encouraged me to go for it. I’ve always been scared of the thought that botox can go wrong and cause problems.. but now I’m relieved. I booked for an appointment on Thursday.
    Can’t wait to get rid of this problem and live like a normal person.
    How are things with you now?

    1. Hi hun! Apologies! I somehow missed your comment. How did the Botox go? Did it work for you? In the long run, it didn’t work for me. When certain muscles were relaxed my body just found a way to tense up the others around it. Also, I’ve come to realise that my headaches are a mix of tension and migraine types. The only thing that works for me these days is taking sumatriptan and some months, when it’s really bad, I have to pop up to 5 tablets. I really wish there was another solution but I’ve been searching for years for the root cause and have had no joy. I’m now kind of just surrendering to a life of medication when necessary. I hope you have better luck!

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