What they don't tell you about Botox
Have you looked in the mirror lately and seen frown lines forming between your eyebrows? Does the thought of injections in your face scare you? If you are thinking about Botox, here is what you need to know from someone who has had the treatment for many years.
Ask yourself why?
The first question to ask yourself is why do you want to get Botox? Do you see crow’s feet around your eyes that make you look older? Do you have frown lines between your eyes that make you look angry when you are not? Or do you have a big event coming up like your wedding? Like any facial procedure, patients need to have realistic expectations. While it won't get you that new job or find a boyfriend, it can give you extra confidence in your appearance which can translate to all areas of your life.
I had my first Botox treatment right before I got married 11 years ago. Six months before I got married, I went to Australia with some friends for an adventure trip. Even though I was in the beauty industry (and 30 years old!), I had never thought about wrinkles before that trip. One day we went on a tour of a koala bear sanctuary. I was so excited to have my picture taken hugging a koala bear and I ordered the largest print they had, but once the picture was handed to me, I was horrified!
I had a huge smile on my face, a cuddly bear around me and lots of crow’s feet around my eyes! I tore up the picture and threw it out! As soon as I landed at home, I called my dermatologist and asked what I could do about the wrinkles and he suggested Botox, a new wrinkle treatment. After the procedure, I was so happy, especially with the upcoming wedding. Since then, I get treatments every four to six months (except when I was pregnant and breast feeding of course!).
How does it work?
BOTOX (and related treatments such as Dysport and Xeomin) are neurotoxic proteins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum (each drug varies however in its specific protein/ molecule makeup, thus making them each different). These drugs work by blocking nerve impulses to the injected muscles, hence reducing the muscle movements that cause wrinkles.
The concept is not new. Frownies, a tape that is placed over wrinkles at nighttime (over a period of time) to prevent repetitive muscle movement was invented over 100 years ago. Of course the results are not as fast as BOTOX and its competitors, but it is based on the same principles.
These medications are officially approved for frown lines between the eyes (glabellar) but most doctors also use them to correct crow’s feet, bunny lines (on the nose), horizontal forehead lines, nasal flare and even do brow lifts.
What does it cost?
The average price of the treatments ranges from $250-$400 per area (forehead, crow's feet, glabellar lines). Sometimes the manufacturers offer discounts or coupons via their websites or through the doctors; however, this should not be the reason to choose one or the other.
What should you ask your doctor?
First you should find an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon to perform wrinkle treatments on your face. If you have friends who have gotten Botox and you like how they look, try to consult with the same doctor. I would suggest avoiding "Botox parties" — being one on one with your doctor in their office is ideal in case anything goes wrong or you have a reaction.
An experienced doctor will know where to place the neurotoxin and how much to inject in each area for the most natural look possible. Also, your doctor will know which injectable is suitable for your needs, or they might even use two different ones on you at the same time (for example, Botox on your forehead and Dysport for your crow's feet).
You should also tell your doctor about any medications, vitamins or mineral supplements you are taking, as some will increase the chance of bleeding or bruising. Common medications to avoid are ibuprofen and aspirin. Similarly, vitamin E, omega-3 and flaxseed oil supplements can increase chances of bruising. So even if you only have a consultation with a doctor, try to avoid these supplements seven days prior to the meeting. If you decide to get the injections, it will minimize your chance of bruising and bleeding.
During the treatment
Before the procedure, your face will be cleaned of all makeup (so the doctor can view where veins are located on your face). Next, topical ice will be applied to the areas to be treated (this helps shrink the blood vessels and desensitize your skin). Your doctor will ask you to contract and relax the problem areas (for example, make a frown between your eyebrows and let it go or smile and relax). This allows the doctor to inject the appropriate spots on your face.
After each injection, you will hold ice to your face as well to minimize any bruising and soothe the area. Most doctors offer "free" touch ups after two weeks. I think this is so important because it means that they are using the least amount necessary on your face. After two weeks, you can determine if you need any more (I have never needed to get more after two weeks).
Once the doctor is finished, you are free to apply makeup to your face. Doctors recommend not lying down for two to four hours after and avoid vigorous exercise. Within a few days, you will notice the effect of the treatment and results usually last three to six months, depending on the individual. If you have any side effects, most likely they will be bruising, headaches or a flu-like feeling, and these usually go away either after a few hours or in the case of bruising, after a few days.