What to Consider Before You Get Botox

Botox has been around for some time now, but increasingly, more women are starting the process earlier in life. Women and men as young as early twenties are getting their fix during their lunch hour or surrounded by their friends at Botox parties. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 64 percent of member facial plastic surgeons saw an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectable treatments in patients under 30. Many see this as a result of the influence of celebrities and social media on young adults.

If you’re still unclear about what Botox actually is, it’s a drug made from a neurotoxin and when used in small doses, it cosmetically eliminates wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing the muscles. While the treatment is safe, a medical doctor like a plastic surgeon or dermatologist should perform it, so it’s a good idea to do some research before agreeing to the procedure.

“Make sure whoever is injecting you is skilled,” says Kathy Pappas of EGEA Spa in Evanston. “At EGEA, only the doctor injects you. It’s artwork. You want someone who has the skill, who has the experience, who really understands it and has been trained in the facial muscles. You don’t want it to look artificial.”

Botox is given in intervals; the amount you need depends on how expressive you are, but expect to come in two to four times a year, depending on your age. You should see signs of improvement within three to five days after treatment, but full results sometimes take up to two weeks.

A recent popular study followed identical twin sisters for 13 years, during which one sister received Botox two to three times annually and the other sister received it only twice over the 13-year period. The verdict? Imprinted forehead, crow’s feet and glabella (skin between the eyebrows) lines were not evident in the regularly treated twin but were evident in the minimally treated twin.

Dr. Julius Few agrees that research has indeed shown that you can stall visual signs of aging with appropriate treatment as long as you don’t overdo it. When the muscles continuously squeeze the skin (like when you frown or squint), eventually you are going to crease. As time goes by, that crease will deepen. By starting Botox in your early- to mid-thirties, you can stay ahead of the curve.

It’s important to limit how frequently you’re treated with Botox though, and only have it administered if you actually have lines in your face when it’s at rest. Dr. Amy Brodsky agrees that starting younger is definitely preventative, but starting too young can be a slippery slope. “If you freeze your forehead continuously for years, you lose muscle volume and fat so your temples may appear hollow — I call it peanut head. This happens because you are atrophying the temporalis muscle when too much is put in too early,” says Brodsky. “That being said, it’s also preventing future wrinkles.” Brodsky warns that regular Botox use from a young age may mean that in the future you have to fill your temples with Voluma, Sculptra or another filler.

Alternatives to Botox

Pappas also notes that there’s another injectable alternative for those who are wary of Botox.

“We use Xeomin, which is similar to Botox, but the difference is that it doesn’t contain the protein additives that Botox has,” Pappas says. “Some people develop a resistance to the additives, and Xeomin doesn’t contain them, so it lasts longer for patients.”

If your skin doesn’t show any visible signs of aging, or you just don’t have the extra money for treatment with Botox or other injectables, you can still be proactive by taking care of your skin with a daily sunscreen with a high SPF, a firming neck cream, day treatments with peptides and night treatments with retinol.

“People in their twenties and thirties should use a retinol product on their skin either daily or nightly,” says Pappas. “It will help regenerate your skin and reduce lines and wrinkles.”

Many spas also offer peels to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the lips and eyes. Pappas recommends a medical-grade peel from a doctor at a medical spa.

“Medical doctors can also do clear lifts with a laser,” says Pappas. “It heats up the skin underneath and builds up collagen so you see a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.”

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