Few things in skincare offer the joyous trifecta of minimal downtime, instant gratification and immediate results quite like a Botox treatment. 48-72 hours after a quick 10-minute procedure, frown lines, crow’s feet and forehead lines look softer, smoother and come pretty darn close to disappearing altogether. I’ve been a patient – and an unabashed fan – since the late 90’s shortly after scientists discovered the cosmetic benefits when treating strabismus (i.e. crossed eyes). Along with a consistent skincare routine of sunscreen and retinol, regular Botox injections remain my favorite treatment for keeping my skin relatively wrinkle-free. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it does, how it works and most importantly, how to get Botox done right. So, if you are thinking about it and are tempted to give it a try, then this post is for you.
After nine months of sheltering at home, I recently visited with aesthetic RN Tracey Prescott of Beauty with a Mission, known in dermatology circles as ‘the artist with a needle’, for a much-needed Botox refresher and an informative Q&A you don’t want to miss. Oh, and the results are pretty darn amazing too. (All photos by Kelly Willis Photography)
How To Get Botox Done Right
What exactly does Botox do?
Botox injections block certain chemical signals from nerves, beneath the skin’s surface and target the underlying muscle activity that causes dynamic facial wrinkles. Dynamic wrinkles are the wrinkles that develop on your face when you contract your muscles. So, when you smile, when you grimace, when you are angry and when you laugh, the wrinkles that appear on your skin are dynamic wrinkles. Simply put, it works by inactivating muscles that are responsible for overactive facial expression. It does not target wrinkles, but the muscles that cause them to develop.
Who are the ideal patients?
Anyone in good general health with unwanted dynamic facial wrinkles (moderate to severe) is a good candidate for Botox.
How do I find a good practitioner?
First and foremost, injecting Botox is an expert procedure and should be administered by a qualified and trained practitioner. Do some research to ensure the staff are all trained and have the documentation to prove their qualifications. Make sure you choose an established medical and cosmetic clinic. I did a ton of research and chose Tracy because she has been doing this for 25+ years, has a stellar reputation and tons of before/after pics of her work. (The office is also known for giving back to the community so that’s a bonus!)
What to avoid? Please skip non-medical clinics such as hairdressers or beauty salons. Remember, this is not a new mascara or shampoo. This is Botox. Find an expert (ideally a physician, RN or nurse practitioner). And yes, your dentist is a doctor, but promise me you won’t have her/him do your Botox. Lastly, while I love a good bargain, please skip going the on-line coupon route.
How does one prepare before the appointment?
It’s a good idea to avoid taking aspirin or ibuprofen a few days beforehand to help minimize bruising. Other than that, there’s nothing specific you need to do. Just arrive with a clean face, minus make-up.
I’m at the doctor’s office. What happens next?
After taking your health information, the best practitioners will first spend some time asking you about your skincare routine, your goals and expectations (looking like JLo doesn’t count). Your practitioner will ask you to frown, squint and raise your brows to get a sense of where to inject and how much product – called units – to use. (Most offices charge by the unit.) This is your opportunity to share your thoughts on the level of natural movement you’d like to retain. At this point, your practitioner may offer an ice pack to lightly numb the injection areas and help prevent bruising.
How many units should I expect?
It varies from person-to-person depending upon a whole host of things such as your age, existing wrinkles, how expressive you are and the locations you choose. Some practitioners say they inject an average of 30 – 50 units. I personally get injections in three locations – forehead, between brows and corners of my eye – and it’s usually close to 55 units.
How much does botox cost?
The cost will ultimately depend on the number of units and areas treated. Depending on where you get it done, it typically costs anywhere between $10-$30 per unit.
Does getting botox hurt?
If it’s your first rodeo, then yep, it will hurt a bit. But it’s nothing more than what you’d expect during the extraction phase of a facial. Using an icepack beforehand helps quite a bit. Ask for one as soon as you arrive so that you have a few minutes head start. If you’re super sensitive or nervous, there’s no need to be brave – ask for a numbing cream. It will add about 10-15 minutes to the process, but it’s worth it if it calms your nerves.
Will I bruise?
Bruising is rare, but it can happen to some (it can occur when the needle nicks a blood vessel, usually with an inexperienced practitioner). If you tend to bruise easily, consider using Arnica which can help speed healing. In general, any bruising usually disappears in 2-3 days. I do tend to bruise easily, but rarely after Botox. My session with Tracey was no exception – zero bruising!
There’s no down time, so tap on some concealer if you need it and go about your day. Just avoid strenuous workouts for about 24 hours. Don’t rub or massage the area for about 4 hours after treatment – including facials – and try and stay upright (no lying down quite yet).
How long does Botox last?
If you’re new to Botox, expect results to last about 3-4 months. Over time, if you continue getting Botox injections, results seem to last longer (facial muscles become a bit “out of shape”). For reference, I love going every 5 months, but can easily stretch it to 6-7 months if needed. My last injection (from my before pictures) was about 7 months ago if that helps.
What if I don’t like the results?
Botox can’t be removed or dissolved so there’s no way to undo its effects. You will have to wait for your body to create new receptors when the Botox wears off. If you’re nervous, just try a few units to see how you react. Make a follow-up appointment in 2 weeks (the best practitioners will schedule it automatically), and have more added if you like the results. I went back for my follow-up with Tracey exactly 2 weeks later and added 5 units to my eye area.
Are there products I should use afterwards to take advantage of the effects?
Yes! Aside from daily sunscreen, you want to enhance the skin-smoothing results of Botox with moisturizers containing ultra-hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Supplement each appointment with anti-aging moisturizers that actually work to reduce wrinkles, smooth fine lines and boost collagen production, too. Here are some excellent choices that Tracey’s patients love.
So, what do you think? Amazing right? I still have some natural movement so I don’t look frozen or unnatural. In fact, my husband didn’t notice anything except that my skin looked prettier.
Have you tried Botox? If not, is it something you’re thinking about? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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