Illustration of Botox procedure for urinary incontinence

Onabotulinum toxin Type A, commonly known by its brand name Botox, is a highly effective in-office procedure to treat urgency urinary incontinence or overactive bladder symptoms. It works by diminishing the unwanted contractions in your bladder to prevent the sudden urge to urinate, which can cause urinary leakage.

Who is a candidate for Botox?

During your consultation, your urogynecologist will work with you to determine if Botox is the right procedure to alleviate your bladder symptoms. Typically, Botox is used in women with overactive bladder (OAB) or urinary urgency incontinence. Oftentimes, women select Botox as a treatment option if their symptoms have not improved with behavioral modifications, physical therapy or other medications. Botox is also a great alternative for women who do not tolerate the oral medications used to treat urinary urgency incontinence/OAB.

How is this procedure performed?

In the office, a cystoscope (a thin camera with a light on the end) is inserted into the urethra, allowing your urogynecologist to look at the inside and inspect your bladder and urethra. The Botox is then injected into the bladder muscle through a tiny Botox needle at the end of the cystoscope.

The entire procedure takes about five minutes and causes minimal discomfort. You will be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.

How successful is this procedure?

Clinical trials and other related research have proven that Botox injections for urgency and refractory urinary incontinence and overactive bladder are highly effective. However, the injections only last six to nine months. You will need to have injections every six to nine months to keep your urinary symptoms from returning.

Keep in mind, it usually takes around two weeks for the Botox injections to take full effect and alleviate symptoms.

What are the side effects?

Luckily, most women do not experience side effects from Botox procedures. Immediately following the procedure, you might feel a burning sensation or a small amount of bleeding during urination, but this should wear off throughout the day.

More rarely, women can experience transient side effects which are completely treatable and typically resolve with time, such as:

  • Recurrent urinary tract infections while on Botox treatment
  • Trouble emptying your bladder for several weeks after the procedure (Although rare, you may have to temporarily empty your bladder with a catheter after receiving injections.)

To decrease the chance that you experience a urinary tract infection, you will receive oral antibiotics after the procedure.