Is preventative Botox really worth it?
Once, Botox was the preserve of midlife women looking to magic away fine lines and maintain a fresh, youthful complexion. Now, rapidly rising numbers of women in their late twenties and early thirties are exploring Botox in the hope of halting the signs of ageing before they even begin. While there are no official UK figures at the moment, in the US, the number of women aged 19-24 seeking Botox treatments has risen by 41% since 2011, and we estimate similar growth here.
But what are the injections really doing to your face at this age? Are they really preventing wrinkles? Or can it make them worse in the long run? This is everything you need to know.
What exactly is Botox?
Botox is actually a brand name, but it’s widely used to refer to the drug Botulinum toxin in general. There are several other brands, but BOTOX® is the most well-known. As we get older, it’s natural for wrinkles, brow furrows, forehead lines or a sagging neck to appear. This can often be due to weakened collagen in the skin due to too much sun exposure or natural gravity, facial movement, or genetic predisposition.
Botox is used to treat facial lines caused by the action of these muscles on the skin. When injected, it works by relaxing the muscles and stopping them from contracting, which helps smooth wrinkles and prevent deeper lines from forming.
What is Botox suitable for?
Botox helps with any dynamic lines that are caused by muscle movement. Many of the lines we see with ageing, especially in the upper part of the face, come from repeated use of the muscles – smiling, frowning, and squinting – so when you minimise that, we can effectively improve those lines. It’s great for forehead lines, crow’s feet lines and the ’11 lines’ – the vertical frown lines between the eyebrows. But there are some lines Botox won’t work on, such as the nasolabial folds that run from the nose to the mouth. Botox isn’t effective here since these folds are not caused by movement, but rather by structural changes to the face as we age.
In the hands of an experienced injector, Botox can also be used to lift facial features and balance out asymmetry; reduce jaw clenching and teeth grinding and slim the face; alleviate excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), and tackle migraines.
When is the best time to start?
Botox is a very effective preventative method. As we age, the movement of the muscles under the surface of the skin becomes less dynamic and more static, which means fine lines and wrinkles will begin to become continuously present and not just during movement. When used on small muscles in the upper face, it smooths out these fine lines and prevents them from becoming etched on our faces. The right time to start is once you begin to see static lines – that are still there even when your face is at rest, or just before this. The age at which this happens varies from person to person and depends on factors like genetics and sun exposure, but typically it’s at some point in your early thirties.
It’s best to catch a line when it’s still in the early phases because once it becomes a deep line, Botox may soften it, but won’t remove it completely.
Does it hurt?
The treatment entails very minimal discomfort. Some practitioners may offer to ice the area or use a topic anaesthetic cream, but most people don’t find it painful as the needles used are very small. Many also worry that Botox will leave their face feeling numb, but you won’t lose any sensation in the areas that have been treated.
The key to a subtle result
Done well, Botox should be completely imperceptible, with people thinking you look well and rested, not that you’ve had something done. The key is to see a registered medical professional with a good understanding of facial anatomy, such as a cosmetic doctor, surgeon or nurse and ensure that you have a thorough consultation beforehand.
If you’d like to find out more about Botox and whether it’s right for you, click here to enquire.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.