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Moms who Botox: Fabulous or frozen?

Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...

Botox basics

It seems as though as my 35th birthday rolled around, and I could no longer claim stake to that coveted 18-34 year-old demographic, I began to notice the lines around my eyes. I’m not sure if it was the sheer number itself which made me more critical of my features or the fact that those lines that were once so finely etched between my eyebrows suddenly appeared to be deep furrows, which my son referred to as my "angry look." And unfortunately, he’d say this when I wasn’t even trying to get my angry face on!

Mom getting botox

Of course, the pressure to be youthful is insidious and present in every form of media in our society. Between the magazine models air brushed into non existent stick figures, and the over 40 actresses bathed in a forgiving gauzy film lens, ( one I'd love to have aimed at me at all times) it's getting harder for me to accept each one of these wrinkles ever so quickly staking a claim on my face.

I'll be honest, I am considering botox, and I know I'm not alone.

Why moms use botox

Amy Barr, a 42-year-old mom began getting Botox injections a couple of years ago when she realized that the stress of being a mom was causing her hair to gray prematurely and her frown lines to deepen.

"I had constant tension headaches and felt after a long day of work and dealing with family, that my face was converting to a downward slope. I went for Botox and for the first time that I had no tension headaches or frown lines, " says Barr, who admits she's never gotten backlash from people who found out. "I've gone on my lunch hour and came back telling my girl friend co-workers, 'Check it out, next week, I won't be able to do this!' -- and then I frown. In fact, I've had two co-workers go with me after I've advocated it!"

>> Be honest: Would you get cosmetic surgery?

Barr is adamant about the fact that she gets Botox treatments for herself and not because she's feels pressured by society or family and friends to look a certain way.

"I do it for me and no one else. My close friends probably don't even notice the difference but I do and that's all that counts, "says Barr. "My physician is a board certified cosmetic surgeon. He's not overzealous. He only does Botox in a way that my face can go up but not down. So I don't have that frozen face look. I feel more confident, but most importantly, I don't have tension headaches. I figure the money I pay for the Botox washes out with the money I would spend on massages and over-the-counter meds."

What botox can do

According to Dr. David Bank, director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY and author of Beautiful Skin - Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, the majority of his patients getting Botox/Dysport treatments are doing so to achieve a more refreshed appearance and relaxed expression.

"Botox/Dysport helps to smooth and even out lines and wrinkles and also can have a brow-raising/eye-opening effect that is very beautiful, especially if they are starting to develop lines and wrinkles in the upper face (crow's feet, between eyebrows), "says Dr. Banks, who cautions that the procedure should be performed in a physician's office, not a spa or a salon, as it is a medical procedure..

Dr. Banks, who has nearly 20 years of experience in treating patients with Botox, offers these guidelines for moms considering the treatments.

Botox Basics: What moms need to know

The procedure itself is actually fairly quick, taking only several minutes, and should be only minimally painful. A tiny needle is used to inject the Botox and one of the most important things to remember is to do your homework and make sure that you are going to someone who has a lot of experience injecting Botox/Dysport.

Botox benefits; how long does it last?

Botox/Dysport could last anywhere from three to six months, then the effect wears off and you go back to your original appearance. You never look worse. For those individuals who continue to be treated, as the initial treatment is wearing off, they have a long term sustaining effect. Muscles start to develop what is called a "bio-feedback" effect and patients can go longer and longer between treatments.

What kinds of results can you expect?

That depends upon both the depth and intensity of the lines and the experience of the doctor doing the injecting. People with thicker and deeper lines should have realistic expectations that the lines wouldn't go away 100% after the initial injection, although they should know that the effects should improve with subsequent treatments. Physicians with more experience are more often able to achieve natural relaxed looks than those without as much experience.

Who shouldn't use botox?

Mothers who are either nursing, are pregnant or might be pregnant again or have one of a small number of extremely rare neurologic conditions in which the injecting doctor would ask about before injecting. It is important for mothers to tell their physician if they think they might be pregnant, are pregnant, nursing or taking meds and have medical conditions.

Botox side effects

Fortunately, side effects are very rare and mild. Side effects can include brief swelling, pain, and/or bruising at the injection site. Only in extremely rare cases or if you're going to a physician with not much experience injecting will there be a chance of an eyelid droop. Botox and Dysport have great track records with have been around for approximately 20 years with millions of injections performed. Additionally, Botox/Dysport is not permanent so, if for some reason, you don't like it or if the results are not what you expected, do know that it will go away.

Mothers should ask their physician how many years of experience they have using Botox/Dysport, how long they have been practicing, and what are the worse problems they've ever had to face and what were the results.

"I've never had any negative side-effects. In fact, I've had a huge positive side-effect with no tension headaches. I'm not creasing my eyes and frowning, like at a computer. You don't realize how much you use these muscles until they are paralyzed - in a good way," says Barr who uses the excuse that it's medical not cosmetic! "Right after the procedure you may have a headache or numbness in the tongue, but it goes away within a few hours. The results last for about four months and yes I will continue to have it done. Over time, if you keep it up you need fewer units. Botox is sold in units and runs from about $10 a unit an up. So about $350 the first time and over time it's less money. "

Barr's advice for women considering Botox is to do their homework. "Make sure the procedure is done by a board certified plastic/cosmetic surgeon; never have it done by a hair salon or other outlets that aren't professionals. They're just trying to make money and the Botox may be diluted and not pharmaceutical grade. Also, a good physician will ask to see you back in about a week to see how it looks and without charge," says Ms. Barr, who says moms should opt for a natural effect.

"My kid may have been stuck 40 feet up a tree with the fire department trying to get him out, but at least I'm not frowning because of Botox. True story!"

Tell us: Have you used Botox? Do you like the results? Comment below!

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