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What to consider before getting Botox

The facts about Botox – and other cosmetic injections

I've been having Botox injected long before it was FDA approved. Crazy? Maybe. Or maybe it's just crazy good! Born with a frown line that left me looking bitchy even while sleeping, I jumped at the chance to be injected by a well-known surgeon while training in Newport Beach, California.

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At first I couldn't figure out what he was staring at. Did I have something I shouldn't have on my face — messy makeup, food, a booger? Finally, he asked why I had never tried Botox for my frown line. I wasn't even sure what Botox was, but I knew I wanted it that instant! Anything that would stop the growing crevasse in the middle of my brows — not to mention the stares I was getting!

After my injections — pain-free, for the record — I continued to gaze into mirrors any chance I got while I waited for it to work. Patience isn't my best quality. I was back in the Midwest a few days later when I finally noticed something. I couldn't bring my eyebrows together. My frown line was still there, but my frown area — officially known as the glabella — looked softer and my eyebrows were lifting into a glamorous arch. I was thrilled — and hooked!

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Fast-forward to today, and I haven't missed a treatment since my first one — not one. I did, however, break up with Botox in 2009 after trying its first opponent, Dysport.

In 2010, another product (Xeomin) entered the arena, which then gave patients three FDA-approved neuromodulators to choose from. Instead of patients being happy about having more choices, there was only more confusion and misconceptions about injectables.

If you've wanted to try Botox, but are worried about some of the things you've heard, here is some basic information that can clear up some of those misunderstandings and help you decide if this treatment is for you.

The three products — Botox, Dysport and Xeomin — are from three different companies.

They basically work the same way, which is by reducing muscle contraction for approximately three to four months. That helps to prevent deepening of "expression lines" over time.

The most popular areas treated are the frown, forehead and crow's feet. There are a few other areas on the face that, while not as common, can create a beautiful outcome, like masseter muscles for slimming the lower face, the chin for relaxing a ball-shaped chin and upper lip lines). There are also other uses for these neuromodulators, such as cervical dystonia, lazy eye, muscle contractures, hyperhidrosis, migraines and bladder dysfunction, even though use for cosmetic reasons is the most popular.

While it is rare, you can build up a resistance to a neuromodulator — just like you could with an antibiotic — it just won't work as well. So, always wait at least 90 days before your next treatment and have the minimum dose required.

Yes, they are all considered neurotoxins (type A) and are made from Clostridium botulinum, the same nasty toxin that causes food poisoning. This is one of the two main reasons why you should only be injected by a qualified and experienced medical professional. (Just because someone is qualified, doesn't mean they are experienced.)

The second reason is that you can end up looking really crazy if injected improperly. There are a few things that can cause this, like too much product, an injector who doesn't know facial anatomy or one who is a "cowboy" and injects areas that should not be injected — ever.

Why would you want to be injected with a poisonous toxin that could possibly look and feel uncomfortable?

Well, in the right hands (qualified and experienced medical professionals), you can have a softer, fresher and more natural-looking you!

Why go through life looking upset or haggard if you don't have to? And the longer you use these products, the better you'll look — bonus!

More: What skin care experts do when they get a breakout

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