By Charity Ohlund – Guest Blogger and Recent Botox Convert
“I want a new drug
One that won’t make me sick
One that won’t make me crash my car
Or make me feel three feet thick”
— Huey Lewis And The News
I wasn’t looking for a new drug. But I found one. Or rather, it found me. Let me back up a little and explain.
A few years ago, I took a job at a medical spa. It was a new industry for me, but then again, each of my jobs has been. Since college, I’ve been a special events coordinator for a bank, a shop girl, a project manager for a web development company, a hotel concierge, and a waitress among other things. Each position came with its own little “perks of the job.” From lower loan rates at the bank to travel discounts and free food at the hotels and restaurants, I’ve always taken full advantage of fringe benefits.
So when my boss at the medical spa explained that I could try the products, including Botox, for free in an effort to help explain them and sell them to the patients, I looked forward to trying the lotions, creams, serums, makeup and even laser hair removal. But Botox? C’mon, I was too young for Botox! I was only 33. Surely the high-end topical skin care products would take care of my early crow’s feet and the train tracks starting to appear on my forehead, right?
Several months went by, and I got used to seeing the regular Botox patients. I couldn’t help but notice how great they looked. Both women and men of all ages looked decidedly fresh and several years younger than the age on their charts. They did not have the stereotypical “Botox face” that gets so much play in the celebrity media. Instead, they simply looked like themselves – but like a version of themselves that had found the elusive miracle cream we’ve all been searching for.
A short time later, we were holding a special event at the medical spa and one part of the evening was to include a Botox demonstration. At a meeting, the spa owners asked someone to volunteer to be injected. Preferably, this someone would be a “Botox virgin.” All eyes at the table turned to … guess who? I was the only one left who had not tried Botox. “Okay, I’ll do it,” I said. “But just this once.” (What’s that they say about famous last words?)
When the time came, I was a little nervous. I was also a little excited. What would I look like? Will this really work on me? Will it hurt? Will I bruise?
We had mapped out beforehand how many units I would receive and where. This is where the importance of a good doctor really comes into play. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists are uniquely qualified to do this. Botox is not a one-size-fits-all product. A patient’s individual anatomy and facial structure determine the placement and amount of each injection.
For example, I do not have strong wrinkles in my glabella region between my eyebrows, but I do have more wrinkles around my eyes. I also have a very slightly visible vein near my right eye that should be avoided so that I don’t bruise. A skilled and experienced doctor will take all of this and more into account and can sometimes even make corrections to your existing asymmetry with Botox.
I don’t mind needles too much, and the type of needle used to inject Botox is so tiny that I did not request any numbing cream. It is certainly offered to those who are more squeamish or have a very low pain tolerance. However, I equate the pain to a mosquito sting, and in fact, I didn’t even feel some of the injections.
Botox is shipped to the provider in a refrigerated vial. It comes as a white powder that the provider mixes with saline. The amount of saline added can vary depending on the provider’s preferences, but Botox is always measured in units. A typical glabella region calls for an average of 20 units because it is a strong muscle. The crow’s feet area is a weaker muscle and usually takes 4-9 units per eye. The upper forehead area can vary widely among individuals, and again, a skilled plastic surgeon is the best choice for the best results.
In the end, I received 45 units. Whoa! Was I more wrinkled than I thought? Immediately after the injections, I applied an ice pack to my forehead and around my eyes. I was also told to raise and lower my eyebrows and to move my facial muscles around to allow the Botox to work its way in there. When I looked in the mirror about 3 minutes after the injections, I had small reddish bumps where the needle had been, but they had completely disappeared within 15 minutes.
Wrinkles are formed when the muscles beneath the skin repeatedly move and eventually cause creases in the skin. Botox gets injected into the muscles and works by temporarily weakening them so you can’t make wrinkles. But the other nifty thing about Botox is that it takes “miles” off your face for the 3-4 months that it is effectively working.
Think of it like the tread on your tires. Each day that you drive your car, you are slightly wearing down the tread. But if you park your car in the garage for four months, you’ve extended the life of your tires by four months. Botox works the same way for your face. Even if you use it for a few years and then stop, you’ve effectively avoided several years of wrinkle making.
Anyway, back to my face and its 45 units. After being injected, there was nothing left to do but wait. And wait. And wait some more. I had what some refer to as a “Botox headache” for several hours after being injected. It wasn’t anything major, but my forehead felt heavy, like a big piece of masking tape had been applied to it.
I saw the first inkling of change within four days and then saw the full effects at about 8-9 days. I couldn’t really raise my eyebrows very far or make a line between my brows when scowling, but it didn’t look unnatural. It just looked smoother and younger. But my favorite part was my eyes. They still looked totally natural, but my eyes weren’t all wrinkly when I laughed or smiled. Instead, my cheeks still went out like normal and my eyes squinted like normal, but there were no lines running back toward my hair.
In short, I loved the way my face looked with Botox. I couldn’t believe that Botox had achieved in about a week what I had been waiting for topical creams to achieve for years.
The real proof that I looked great came from those closest to me. I walked into my sister’s house two weeks later with my hair in a bun and no makeup except for a little powder and lip gloss ready to take our kids swimming. My younger sister stopped and stared at me for a moment. Then she said, “Oh my gosh, your face looks incredible. You just look natural and young and fresh. I’m so jealous!”
My husband, who had been very wary about me getting Botox, looked at me in the kitchen one day and said, “I think you look really great. You look exactly like you did when I met you seven years ago.” Ummmm…..wait, was that a compliment?
I no longer work at the medical spa, but Botox was not a “one time thing” for me. I’m not an addict (that’s what all addicts say, right?), but I do still get Botox injections about 2-3 times per year. Along with daily SPF and Retin-A, Botox is now a favorite part of my beauty routine. It is the go to, sure thing, gold standard treatment that I know will always deliver the results that I want to see. No wonder it is by far the most popular treatment on the planet. They say there is no such thing as a miracle drug, but I think Botox comes pretty darn close.
P.S. I’m also a huge fan of Latisse eyelash treatment. You can read about that other obsession here.