28 Apr BOTOX Do’s & Don’ts
Botox Do’s & Don’ts
On April 5th, 2015, Dr. Frederic Brandt, a celebrity dermatologist known as the “Baron of Botox” died at the age of 65. The New York Times obituary described his life and his practice, as well as his struggle with depression, which ultimately led him to taking his life. I’m sure he has been missed by those who loved him.
On April 13, in desperate need of my own Botox fix and perhaps feeling my age a bit more this week- having just passed my 50th birthday- I thought it was only fitting to write a blog about Botox, with a nod to the “Baron.” May his wrinkle-free soul rest in peace.
The use of Botox has grown steadily since it was first introduced in 1977. It is now used to treat migraines, grinding of the teeth, overactive bladders, muscle twitches, tension headaches, over exposed gums, and the list grows longer and longer every year. I promise to do a future blog on the many ways Botox (or its competitor, Dysport) is being used to treat a growing number of symptoms and conditions. Today, however, I will talk about what most people think of when you mention the word Botox….
Before you start sending me emails telling me that the lines on your face show how much you have laughed and lived, that you earned every single one of those crow’s feet which you call “smile lines” – stop and take note. I’m not saying you HAVE to get Botox. I don’t own stock in the company who makes it (although I wish I did). It’s not for everyone. It’s ONLY for people who are interested in softening their current wrinkles and preventing new wrinkles from forming. That’s it. If you like your lines and feel they add character, then more power to you. I, on the other hand, feel that I have an abundant amount of character without the wrinkles.
You can’t think of Botox without conjuring up images of the many frozen faces of Hollywood that stare at us from the magazine racks at the supermarket checkout counters. Some are flawless and ageless. Some seem a little bit “off.” And there are others that are downright scary. But Botox they do, although MOST Hollywood starlets (and stars) hide the fact that they get it at all. In fact, they are so keen on keeping it a secret that they are ushered through secret back doors of doctors’ offices all over town. Or better yet, they receive Botox house calls from the best. And what makes them the “best” is that these doctors are helping their clients cheat time with these injectables while not looking completely frozen. These actors and actresses are the ones who have figured out the real goal of the process: their aim is to soften- not freeze. You can see it for yourself as you peruse the internet (Google “bad Botox” and “good Botox”), there is a fine line between naturally youthful and freakishly startled, between fresh-faced and Halloween-masked. I think I’ve figured out where that line is drawn, and I’m here to walk you through the process, to make sure you don’t cross it.
1. DO see a licensed plastic surgeon, especially if it’s your first time getting Botox. Botox freezes muscles, and a plastic surgeon has the best knowledge of the muscles underlying the skin, just as a dermatologist is the most knowledgable about skin cancer, pore size, and complexion. There are many a few dermatologists I have used in the past, and also a few medical spas with registered nurses, but you really need to do your homework.
2. DO start off slowly. Less is more. Until you know how your face is going to look, start with only one small area (such as right between your eyes). You can always go back and get more, but you can’t take it away once it’s been injected. It takes 3-4 months to wear off. You really want to take precautions to avoid the three month mistake.
3. DO avoid blood thinners a few days prior to your appointment. Blood thinners include alcohol (especially red wine), fish oil, and vitamin E.
4. DO have the plastic surgeon, dermatologist or medi-spa keep a chart of how much was injected and into which areas, so that they can tailor your treatment the next time, depending on your results.
1. Do NOT get Botox (or any other injectables) from anyone other than a licensed plastic surgeon or dermatologist. It’s amazing how many different doctors can become “qualified” to give injectables, merely because they’d taken a few extra courses or weekend seminars. Do you really want your foot doctor injecting your face with Botox? Of course not! (If, on the other hand, you have chronically sweaty feet and want to have them injected to stop sweating, then YES, your foot doctor would be the one to call- as that is yet another use for Botox.) For your face, stick with someone who has spent years understanding the muscles of that part of your anatomy. Your Face! The only exception I would make is a Registered Nurse who has worked under the supervision of a plastic surgeon and injectables is what they do. In other words, if the nurse you want to use is your neighborhood’s “Queen of Botox,” then they may be even more experienced with injectables than your leading plastic surgeon.
2. Do NOT drink alcohol, take aspirin, or anything else that thins your blood for at least 2 days prior to injections, or it will increase your chances of bruising. (I know… I’ve said this twice because, well… it’s THAT important.)
4. Do NOT get an industrial amount on your first session. You want people to be able to recognize yourself in the mirror, and you want others to recognize the emotions displayed on your newly softened face.
So there you have it. Again, I’m not telling you whether you should or shouldn’t do it. What I am saying is, IF you do, please follow the guidelines above.
MY PERSONAL OPINION– Botox treatment, done properly, can take 5 years off of your face and neck (that’s right, your neck) and prevent new wrinkles from forming. I think it is the single biggest breakthrough in wrinkle treatment and prevention. Pair this treatment with a Retin-A regime, and you will have skin that looks 5-10 years younger than your actual age.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE– I get Botox 2-3 times per year from Dr. Daniel Yamini in Beverly Hills (Sunset Cosmetic Surgery) or Nurse Jamie, owner of Beauty Park in Santa Monica. I am totally hooked. I love it! My face still moves. I’m not frozen. When I’m happy, I still look happy. When I’m mad (which isn’t often) I look mad. And I only look surprised when I am. Both of the people I go to for Botox have a chart of my face; they know exactly how much I’ve had injected into each area of my face on my last visit. And since Dr. Yamini is the medical adviser for Nurse Jamie’s practice, the two people in this world I trust most with my face can communicate (if needed) about my treatment. NOTE: my treatment may not be typical. I get injected in places you wouldn’t normally think are problem areas. For example, I barely get any wrinkles on my forehead or between my eyes, which are the most common places for most clients. It seems I don’t frown a lot. However, I have very prominent bands on the sides and front of my neck, which ages me considerably. By injecting the bands on my neck with Botox, the bands are softened and my neck looks 5 years younger. I also inject my “bunny lines” – the little lines on the sides of my nose that appear when I crinkle my nose. Finally, I have Dr Yamini or Nurse Jaimie inject a tiny bit of Botox (I don’t use Dysport, but many of my friends like it) into my crow’s feet, and a tiny bit on my forehead. I always set my calendar for Botox every 4 months. The trick is to address the situation before your face reverts entirely back to its pre-Botox status. Remember, if you stay ahead of the wrinkle game, Botox can prevent new wrinkles from forming. Hallelujah!
That is my personal Botox regimen. Again, every client has different needs and if you’re new to the regimen, you will have to start slowly and make sure the qualified dermatologist, surgeon, or “super nurse,” charts your face so that you can build up to the desired result: a result that is effective, yet natural.
I’m not saying I haven’t made my share of mistakes. I have! One wrong move (mine was by an unqualified person yielding a syringe – NEVER AGAIN) and I had a droopy eyelid for 3 whole months. I had to base my entire Halloween costume around that “Botox blooper.” I was torn between a pirate costume with a black eyepatch and an Indy 500 driver with mirrored sunglasses. I went with the race car driver. Trust me, friends: I know the “Don’ts.”
So, with an early April nod toward the passing of the “Botox Baron” and with the humble passing of my 50th birthday, I called my doctor to set my appointment. If you choose to set your own appointment, remember to take a look at the “Do’s and Don’t’s” so that you can have a positive experience and avoid that permanent “deer-in-the-headlights” look that might have deterred you from giving Botox a shot. (Or getting your first shot of Botox.)
Disclaimer: “No celebrities were harmed in the making of this blog.” What I mean is that I vow to never intentionally embarrass anyone with this website. In last week’s blog, Bye Bye Flabby Arms, I contemplated showing the wrinkled elbows of one of the most beautiful and recognized celebrities on the planet. I thought it might help boost the self-esteem of some of my readers by showing that no one is immune to the effects of aging. But after some thought, I chose not to. You all know how to use Google. And there are pictures of gorgeous women at their worst all over the internet. But I would hate for someone to post a picture of my elbows or my Botox mishap. Believe me, if I’ve got an embarrassing photo of myself that will help you, I’ll do that deed on my own. (See the Indy 500 Halloween costume above).