An accidental medical discovery can make the effects of Botox last 30 percent longer, according to a Houston doctor.
Many people know Botox as a beauty enhancer that erases age lines and leaves the skin looking smooth and youthful. But for thousands of people, it is a sanity saving treatment for very real medical conditions.
Wesley Paulk said he could hardly drive, work or even see because of his severe eye spasms.
"I went with my eyes taped open. I took medical tape and taped my eyelids to my eyebrows," Paulk said. "They'd get to spasming so much and blinking that I couldn't control them, and they would shut and I couldn't open them."
Diagnosed with blepharo disease, Paulk has spent the past decade visiting Dr. Charles Soparkar, an ocular plastic surgeon and biochemist, for Botox treatments four times a year—but not anymore.
"I'd get it every two to three months now, with the new pull Zytase, I get it every five to six months."
After noticing some patients are not as receptive to the Botox, a resident suggested to Dr. Soparkar that it could be their diet, prompting him to look at the molecular level.
"All the Botulinum toxins are zinc dependent—metalloprotease—meaning they require zinc to work, meaning no zinc, they don't work," Soparkar said.
He said about 50 percent of the population is zinc deficient so he wondered what would happen if he "gave people zinc before their toxins."
He combined a high dose of zinc with a phytase enzyme and Zytase was born. The drug is taken four days before the Botox treatment is administered and on the day of the treatment. The new and very positive side-effect of getting zinc levels under control allows for Botox's effects to last longer, meaning fewer shots and less money spent.
"Ninety-two percent of people in our study an increase in our effect," Soparkar said.
It even worked for Karin Williams, who was just using Botox for a fresher look.
"Every four months was my routine, for eight years," Williams said. "I started taking the Zytase and noticed I could stretch it out to six months or eight months."
Soparkar said because the zinc is only taken right before the injections, you don't have to worry about getting too much of the chemical. Zytase is prescription only and some insurance companies are paying for it before medical Botox treatments.