I’ve never been one to worry all that much about aging or a few wrinkles here and there earned through years of smiling and laughing … or was it stress?
Yet there came a time recently when facing another birthday, I looked in the mirror and wondered what had happened to that younger looking person who used to stare back. When did these lines on my cheeks appear? Look at those wrinkles on my neck! Despite a daily ritual of gentle cleansing, moisturizing and anti-aging serum use along with retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin C and every other potion the beauty companies sell, I still have wrinkles and now some slightly sagging skin. I didn’t like what I saw and decided to do something about it.
Now, the fact that I work in television plays a large role in this decision, as one has to keep up a fairly youthful appearance (especially being a woman in the TV news business). I will never get a facelift and won’t resort to elective surgery, but success stories from friends and colleagues spurred me to investigate what minimally invasive techniques I could try to look a bit younger. The list is endless: dermabrasion, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, fillers. I wanted to write about my experiences and share what I’m trying and learning through the process.
The first treatment I tried was Botox. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that Botox injections over the past 20 years have soared by more than 800%.
One possible indication that preventive Botox is responsible for some of that increase is the fact that people ages 20 to 39 made up about 20% of all botulinum toxin procedures reported in 2019. While some dermatologists and plastic surgeons say they are seeing rising numbers of men coming in for preventive treatments, the majority of people interested in starting Botox at a younger age, they say, are women in their mid-20s to mid-30s.
How does it work?
Botox is a toxin used to relax facial muscles. It’s been in use for decades with a good safety record, though I have not found any long-term research on Botox use. Some dermatologists have warned that prolonged use could actually weaken muscles over time and cause looser skin while others counter that only happens when administered by someone who is not a qualified medical professional. Botox can be used to treat crow’s feet, lines between the eyebrows, forehead lines, wrinkles below the eyes and lines around the corners of the mouth.
For my treatment, I went to Dr. Ted Steliotes of Steliotes Dental Spa in McMurray. Steliotes is a dentist but has also expanded his practice into a sought-after cosmetic spa by offering various anti-aging treatments.
“Botox is just with us … it’s here to stay,” says Steliotes, who holds degrees from both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Dayton and studied advanced cosmetic dentistry at UCLA. “It’s not going to go anywhere. It’s an amazing anti-aging procedure, very innocuous.”
The treatment consists of injecting small amounts of botulinum toxin into targeted muscles to temporarily relax and weaken them, allowing the skin to release wrinkles. When we smile, frown or squint, we contract our facial muscles leaving the same creases in the same places again and again over time. As we age, our skin loses elasticity, and those creases can’t bounce back like they used to when we were young.
The placement of injections and amount used is up to you in consultation with your doctor – you can treat a few wrinkles or smooth out your entire forehead. The Botox takes effect immediately but also spreads over a few days and weeks. I noticed a smoothing effect in my forehead right away, but it got even smoother over the next week. The smoothing effect can last up to four months.
“What’s great about Botox is that it’s all temporary,” says Steliotes. “That’s what’s great about it and what’s bad about it. It’s temporary so it’s reversible, but that’s what’s bad about it, too, because then you have to get it again.”
Are there side effects?
The most common side effects from Botox injections are bruising, swelling and redness at the injection site, which typically fade within a few hours or a day.
“It’s very localized. When you use the Botox or Dysport (a similar product mainly used to treat frown lines between the eyebrows), it’s staying in that area,” Steliotes explains. “It’s not going systemically; everything’s really just pinpointed right when you need it.”
Complications can arise if Botox isn’t injected properly, and that can lead to drooping, facial asymmetry and bruising. Make sure you find a qualified medical professional for the treatment, ask about their training and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what to expect and pricing. The cost of Botox injections varies, and treatments can range from a few hundred dollars up to $1,000, depending on the amount used.
Overall, I have been very pleased with my results. The injections amounted to feeling a slight pinch, and I’m eager to see how long the effects last.
“It’s very popular, and I look at Botox like some other treatments where you can use it to prevent a deep wrinkle,” Steliotes said. “If you prevent it, you don’t have to get rid of that wrinkle later.”