Skincare Journey Part III: Before And After Botox

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In Skincare Journey Part I: What’s in the Mirror?, I talk about the startling realization that I was getting older after seeing some strange old lady staring back at me in the mirror. Part of my plan of attack against this thing known as aging was to treat my wrinkles with Botox. It wasn’t quite as simple of booking an appointment with a dermatologist, though; the husband was deeply concerned this was just the beginning and that I’d eventually end up looking like a plastic, former shell of myself because I wouldn’t just stop with Botox.

If I’m being perfectly honest, his fears weren’t unfounded — I do have a habit of going all-in once I put my mind to something. He was already witnessing my taking over the bathroom with my sudden interest in skincare and all of these changes had to be a bit alarming for him. (Though I suppose this is a relatively mild mid-life crisis all things considering.) After some time, I was finally able to convince him that it wouldn’t end that way — that I wouldn’t let it. And you know, I’ve actually got to give him props for forcing me to set some boundaries with how far I would go.

So here’s where I was starting. My primary concern was the lines that were becoming permanently etched in my forehead. They were aging me significantly. Secondarily, I was hoping to address my droopy-ish right eye. I really liked my left eyebrow/eye area, but the right was starting to sag. I wasn’t even sure if Botox would help with the eye thing but after reading some reviews on the internet, I was relatively hopeful.

The next step was finding a provider. Luckily, I have a friend with 10+ years of regular Botox injections experience and she was a wealth of information. My biggest concern starting out was cost, because I wasn’t sure I was ready to spend such a large lump sum on some vanity procedure — but she was adamant that I use her dermatologist (who truly is an artist) and that groupon was not the way to go out the gate. I’m extremely grateful that I listened to her because the cheap-ass in me really, really wanted to be able to test the waters with a $150 investment vs. a $400 one.

I should mention that I’m not convinced that groupon providers = hacks; and I’m actually considering trying one of those deals out when I’m due for my next round. But I’m really glad I didn’t go that route to begin with because now I understand what Botox is — and more importantly, is not — capable of and I also understand what I’m looking for in a provider.

The Procedures

During my first appointment, I had a consultation with a cosmetic coordinator first, who took some pictures and asked me what areas we were going to be focusing on. We discussed my forehead lines and she explained that the glabellar lines (the 11s) were part of the treatment plan for addressing forehead lines. Honestly, at first I thought she was full of it, but after seeing how my facial muscles responded to Botox, and how they’re all tied together — she was right in convincing me to treat both the 11s and the forehead. I received 20 units in my glabellar and 10 in my forehead at my first appointment.

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I do know that it took way, way longer than I anticipated to see any real reduction in my facial muscle movement. In fact, when I went in for my 3-week follow-up, Dr. Duncan, suggested we inject a few more units because (a) I had unusually strong facial muscles and (b) I was suffering from Spock eyes when raising them — which I surprisingly hadn’t noticed (you can somewhat see them in the pic on the right – have no idea what else is going on with my skin in that pic). She injected another 12 units altogether at that appointment; 5 in my glabellar and the other 7 in my forehead (and on the edges of my eyebrows because I have this crazy muscle there that loves to create trouble).

By the 30-day mark I had limited movement of my facial muscles, but I wasn’t at all frozen. I could still make expressions, which is something I wanted to be sure to preserve for the husband’s sake — but I also recognized that maintaining the ability to move my face meant slower results. Still, though, I wanted this to be natural. I didn’t want anyone to be like “GOT BOTOX!!” as soon as they saw my face.

Three months later I had a my second round and by that time I’d regained most of my muscle movement, but definitely saw some smoothing of the lines. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I also started using a prescription retinoid (.3% adapalene) after my first Botox appointment, which surely contributed to the line smoothing. At my my second (and subsequent) appointments, we used 35 units — and the familiar movement limitations kick in much earlier each time (less than a week).

The Results

To date I’ve had four rounds of Botox, my most recent being this past week. I snapped the picture on the right just before my derm walked into the room. Both pictures were taken at full rest, both without any effects of Botox … meaning that I had full range of movement in both of these pictures (the effects seem to wear off on me a bit sooner than others but I’m unwilling to go more often than every 3 months).

I wish the lighting were more similar, but I can clearly see the absence of the glabellar lines as well as the upper forehead line. The main line across my forehead has smoothed out considerably and I’m hopeful that it’ll continue in this manner.

I’m undecided how long I will continue receiving treatments — mostly because at $14/unit, it adds up. That being said, I’m not ready to stop because I don’t want to see a reversal of progress; but I am researching some alternatives, including the dreaded dermarolling. I’ll keep you posted!

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