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Botox Beauty 101

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Several years ago, I was hosting a local television show and investigated Botox in an "up close and personal" manner. Dr. Terry Cromwell, a board certified plastic surgeon with Plastic Surgery Associates in Lafayette, LA, was the featured guest on that particular episode. Being a tad apprehensive, but willing to brave being injected on camera with a potentially life-threatening toxin for the sake of ratings, I agreed to my first Botox injection. What follows is my personal experience with Botox and my current thoughts on Botox and its benefits and alternatives.

Like most women, I did my own Google research prior to our on-camera interview. I researched the risks, the benefits, and testimonials. It seemed that I was a good candidate for Botox. Perhaps it's a southern characteristic, but I seem to have this uncanny tendency to be very expressive. By that I mean, I talk with my hands (so much so that if I had to sit on them, I probably couldn't speak a complete sentence), and my facial movements are also very expressive. I smile a lot and lift my eyebrows all the time, and I don't mean lifting my eyebrows on occasion when I'm surprised or quizzical. When I would wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, I would see that I had already unconsciously raised my eyebrows into the lifted position, for no particular reason.

Given my particular problem areas, two things would happen. First, big smiles tend to create the teensy little wrinkles around the orbital corners of the eyes that we refer to as crow's feet. Second, with lifted eyebrows we're prone to a set of wrinkles that cross the forehead in a horizontal fashion (along the frontalis/forehead muscles). Men and women can also get wrinkles between the eyebrows and around the lip area and neckline, which can also be addressed with Botox. Surprisingly, several plastic surgeons I've spoken with have said that approximately one third of their Botox clients are men.

Dr. Cromwell was kind enough to educate the viewers and me about Botox as a means of wrinkle prevention. A case in point was a reference to my own wrinkles from overactive eyebrow lifting. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was causing the development of premature forehead wrinkles in my early thirties. He advised women in their early twenties and thirties to pay special attention to areas where wrinkles may be beginning to develop. By noticing these seemingly tiny facial crevices in the early stages and addressing them with Botox, the wrinkles can be kept at bay almost indefinitely. For me, it was an issue of retraining my frontalis muscles to not lift, except when I wanted them to. In regards to the crow's feet area, I was fine with never "squenching" them together at all.

Botox, from Allergan, is available by prescription only. BOTOX®Cosmetic is a purified protein produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which reduces the activity of the muscles that cause those frown lines between the brows to form over time. It is FDA approved and commonly used for wrinkle prevention, to treat migraine headaches, and to prevent excessive underarm sweating. You may have seen D-List Omarosa, from Donald Trump's The Apprentice, having her underarms injected with Botox on Dr. 90210. She said she had been ruining many of her expensive designer dresses from too much perspiration.

My experience with Botox wasn't an unpleasant one. I didn't receive any lidocaine or deadening agent (it is always made available for patients) for my first injection, because I wanted to really be able to tell the viewers what I was feeling. The sensation I felt from the injections was similar to a teensy little mosquito bite. The oddest sensation was closer to my eyebrows; it wasn't painful, but there was a slight crunching feeling as the needle penetrated my skin. For those of you who fear needles, put your fears to rest. This needle was the tiniest one I've ever seen or felt. I didn't experience much discomfort around the sensitive eye area either.

The entire process was over in about fifteen minutes. On occasion, the needle may hit a tiny blood vessel and you may have a tiny bruise for a day or so, but that's really all. With a little makeup to cover it, you can go right back to work if you so desire.

My results lasted about four months. I didn't squint my eyes unnecessarily and I did have very slight movement in my forehead, so I didn't have the "mask face" that you hear of so many celebrities wearing. My verdict: a great, almost pain-free session with lasting results. Now I get Botox injections twice a year as a wrinkle preventative. I have a few slight wrinkles, but I'm not prematurely aging and I'm happy with my appearance.

For those of you who are considering Botox or have not been happy with the results, here are my personal recommendations in order for you you to have the best outcome and a few non-invasive options, too.

  • Find an MD with a specialty in cosmetic medicine to perform the Botox procedure. While many nurses, aestheticians, and other medical professionals are just as adept at the procedure, I feel most comfortable paying a little extra to an MD whose specialty is cosmetic medicine.
  • Have the procedure performed in a sterile medical office atmosphere, not a Botox home party. Obviously, many people do go the route of home parties with no problems, but I prefer to rule on the side of safety.
  • Ask your friends and family, people you trust, about the MD you choose. Some MD's will dilute the amount of Botox you are receiving to increase profits. The results in the wrinkle-reducing effects wear off after only a month or two. I have known of several cases of this taking place.
  • Ask to see the vial the Botox is contained in. Allergan has a special hologram on the bottle to protect consumers from being sold black market brands which are dangerous.
  • Try over-the-counter products to lesson the appearance of wrinkles. A few I like: DERMAdoctor Faux Fillment, Creme de la Mer Eye Concentrate, Remede Wrinkle Therapy Moisture Lift Baume. (A good exfoliant like Remede Sweep is also a must to get rid of old dead cells that make your wrinkles more apparent.)
  • Keep skin hydrated (those with oily skin should use oil-free products).
  • Use sun screen every day, not just on sunny days.
  • Finally, love the skin you're in – with or without wrinkles!
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