Preventative botox has become a fairly new trend recently. From frown lines to crow's feet, botox can help in stopping the progression of fine lines. Let’s dive in a little deeper!
What is botox?
Botox is a long-used treatment that is derived from the bacteria called clostridium botulinum. It has many used (both cosmetic and medical), such as treating hyperdidrosis, spasms, migraines and of course in treating the skin. Cosmetic botox is often used to treat frown lines, crow's feet, the forehead, and chin.
So, botox as a prevention treatment?
The idea is to start using botox prior to the onset of fine lines by limiting movement ability of the targeted areas. The botox will weaken muscles thereby preventing wrinkles. Some of the more popular targets are the forehead and glabellar lines (also known as "11s") Many professionals suggest starting when you first start noticing any fine lines.
When should one start botox?
We can't answer that! There isn't a magical age when everyone should start preventative injectables. This answer is largely dependent on the state of your skin, genetics, sun damage etc. Many state that once you begin to notice fine lines that you can initiate treatment. Generally, botox is approved for those 18 and older.
How often should I be getting botox injected?
This will vary greatly depending on the individual. Typically, individuals will receive treatments every 3-6 months. Your injector should tell you how often you should return, as they will be able to assess your skin’s condition.
Are there any side effects?
For cosmetic purposes, botox is very well researched and quite safe. Typical side effects include swelling, tenderness, pain at the site(s) which should fade within a few days. Though paralysis of the muscle is the intended effect, over-paralysis can occur when botox is injected in excess.
Will I get that "overdone" look if I implement botox as a preventative?
Not known to be true! This overdone look with botox is usually due to excessive units botox being injected, which causes paralyzing of the muscle. This creates the infamous "frozen" look where one cannot express facially. This is where choosing an injector who is known for achieving a natural look is key.
What about botox resistance?
Resistance to botox can occur when the immune system identifies botox and essentially deactivates it as it has developed antibodies. This means that you may require more units to obtain the desired effect. This likely will not be an issue for preventative treatment
Any other factors to consider?
One major barrier/factor to consider is cost. When considering Botox as a prevention, you need to weigh the pros and cons of the long-term costs associated. Most budget at minimum $1000-$1500 per year, which can add up over time. For some, the financial implications may make more sense when using it as a treatment when fine lines begin to appear rather than as a preventative.
Another consideration is muscle atrophy. Atrophy is a known side effect of botox. There is some evidence hinting that long-term botox usage can lead to muscle weakness. This has the potential to impair function, particularly around one's jawline. Because muscles are a "use it or lose it" function, muscle weakening may be a result of long-term use. To underline, however, long-term research of preventative botox is not yet well researched so it is difficult to definitively know the adverse effects.
How should I choose an injector?
Choosing the right injector is the predominant factor in having a positive botox experience. Be sure to research and find an injector who is experienced and don't be scared to be picky! Asking for recommendations and looking at reviews is a great way to sift through professionals. Once you connect for a consultation, be sure to set clear expectations. Your injector should be able to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Conclusion: Preventative treatment of Botox can help to prevent the development of fine lines. Treatment is generally well tolerated, but long-term effects of preventative use is not really known at this point.
Please do what makes you happy! Botox as a preventative can still be a bit polarizing. Wrinkles and fine lines are not bad, and they do not have to be corrected. Remember to set your own expectations and do what makes you feel most confident. Please do your research and choose a trustworthy injector!
Frevert J and Dressler D, Complexing proteins in botulinum toxin type A drugs: a help or a hindrance? (open access), Biologics 2010, 4, 325-32. DOI: 10.2147/BTT.S14902
PS Yamauchi, Selection and preference for botulinum toxins in the management of photoaging and facial lines: patient and physician considerations (open access), Patient Prefer Adherence 2010, 4, 345–354.
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