Once a coveted beauty treatment reserved for the rich and famous, Botox and other injectables are everywhere — even in our little corner of the world.
Despite Botox’s popularity, though, there’s still confusion among patients and newbies about Botox basics. That’s why I’m here.
I recently attended an injection demonstration with Stacie Yeager, a registered nurse and nurse injector, of Timeless Aesthetics, which operates out of Century Dental Associates locations in Eynon and Scranton. Then, I made the leap and got some Botox myself.
This week, though, I will break down what you need to know before booking an appointment.
I know people have a sometimes visceral reaction to cosmetic enhancements like Botox, and I just want to say that negativity of any kind toward those who choose to have these procedures has no place here. If it’s their body, it’s their choice, and quite frankly, it has no effect on your life if Brittany from yoga decides to get some Botox.
Now, let’s dive in.
What is Botox?
First off, like “Band-Aid” is to “adhesive bandage,” Botox is the brand name for a Federal Drug Administration-approved drug, botulinum toxin.
A nerve-blocking drug, it temporarily “freezes” muscles in your face, which prevents them from contracting. By reducing that movement, the skin above the muscle stays smooth. Botox is the quickest and most effective way to minimize or completely erase forehead lines, crow’s feet and more.
While it sounds scary, Botox has been the subject of studies and clinical trials for decades. Contrary to most corny sitcom tropes, Botox doesn’t numb or stiffen up your whole face. It only works on the small area where it has been injected. One injection by an experienced injector will not shut down the nerve signals in your entire face or body.
Will Botox get rid of all my wrinkles?
There are actually two types of wrinkles on our bodies, dynamic wrinkles and static wrinkles. Dynamic wrinkles occur from repetitive movements (crow’s feet from squinting or smiling, forehead lines from raising your eyebrows, etc.) Static wrinkles, however, permanently form as we lose collagen and elastin over time. (Think of the lines around your neck or the folds of your arms.)
Botox works best on dynamic wrinkles — like the wrinkles around your forehead or the “elevens,” the parallel lines between your eyebrows — since it stops them from moving. However, even visible static wrinkles will show significant improvement from Botox.
How much does Botox cost?
The cost of Botox depends on a few factors, including where you live, how many units you’re getting, the area on your face you’re getting it in and your injector.
Injectors typically price their Botox either by area (i.e. the whole forehead as one price), or by unit, which is how Botox is measured. For instance, Yeager charges per unit, so patients only pay for what they need. Generally, it costs anywhere from $19 to $25 per unit in bigger cities and $12 to $15 per unit in smaller cities.
The number of Botox units you’ll need will depend on your facial anatomy and desired result, from a subtle softening effect that requires fewer units or a dramatic smoothing effect, which needs more. Most adult women get 15 to 20 units for the wrinkles in between their eyebrows and 8 to 15 units in their forehead. Crow’s feet can require up to 15 units, though your injector may inject less if you still want a lot of movement around your eyes. Because their muscles are stronger, men require twice the amount of Botox as women.
How long does Botox last?
Botox’s longevity depends on several factors and everyone is different, Yeager said. On average, Botox lasts anywhere from three to four months, though it depends on metabolism and how much you use those muscles. If it’s your first time, it can last anywhere from five to sixth months as your body is less accustomed to it.
Botox doesn’t work right away. It takes anywhere from four days after injection to start working and up to 10 days for the full results. If you’re trying Botox for a big event or special occasion, book your appointment at least a month in advance, Yeager said, to ensure you have time for it to kick in and get any touchups.
What about Botox prep and aftercare?
Though, your injector will remove any makeup and sanitize the area he or she is injecting, you should still go to your appointment with clean skin. Don’t drink any alcohol the night before, but do drink plenty of water.
Your skin will look fine after your appointment, although you may see a few little red marks at the injection site or, in rare cases, tiny, mild bruising that will fade within a day or so. It’s imperative, though, that you don’t lay down or bend forward for at least four hours after the injections so your Botox doesn’t migrate. You also can’t do any heavy lifting or rub, touch or press on your face (aside from gentle cleansing) for 24 hours. Otherwise, you can resume your normal life.
Does Botox hurt?
If you’re my dad, please stop reading.
I have several tattoos, and they were way more painful than Botox, which feels like a little pinch. And, because it’s a tiny needle (similar to an insulin needle, Yeager said) going right into the muscle, it’s less painful. (Depending on the area, your injector might apply a numbing cream first.) If you’ve survived a Brazilian wax or have given birth, you can absolutely handle Botox.
How do I find an injector?
First, you want a licensed medical professional/licensed injector, preferably one with reference photos and experience. Then, look at your injector’s face. If you like the way he or she looks, this person probably fits your injection style.
You also want to choose someone who makes you feel comfortable. Your injector should ask you about your concerns and gently suggest the course of action. No one should ever push you or try to upsell you. If you leave your session feeling worse about your appearance and what’s “wrong” with you than when you arrived, that’s not a good fit.
Finally, just say no to Groupon Botox. In most studies, the majority of unwanted side effects of Botox are usually not a result of the Botox itself but rather the injector, which is another reason to avoid shady spas or discounts and deals. At the end of the day, if the price sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Remember that you aren’t just paying for the product — you’re also getting the experience of the injector. You get what you pay for.
Next time, I’ll tell you all about my Botox experience.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT