Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Big Jab

OK I'll admit I've wanted to try Botox for quite a while. It's not because I'm super vain or terrified of ageing - it's because I have inherited a tendency to frown when I concentrate (which is obviously a lot!) and that caused me to have quite a prominent frown line between my eyebrows. I have to say the rest of my face looks quite young (for late 30s) -  in fact I'm often mistaken for being a lot younger than I am. But I just felt like the frown line made me look super serious, when I'm really not. And whether or not other people noticed it, I was very self conscious about it.

Before I went down the botox route, I tried various cosmetic "solutions". I won't name them here for fear of defamation, but suffice to say I used all the high end ones that promised to freeze my frown lines etc. Guess what?? None of them worked, not even a little bit. And yes, I used them for at least six weeks to wait for the full effect. But I was still reluctant to try botox. I don't really know why.....maybe just because it gets a bad rap sometimes and I'll admit I'm not crazy about needles. However when nothing else was working I thought I'd at least research it. Once I got past all the anti-botox jargon (mainly from companies that promised cosmetic solutions) I found that it had been used in medical science for more than twenty years and apart from very rare reactions, there was no reported side effects (apart from a minor headache or a small bruise), provided of course that you had it done by a professional. In the end the thing that convinced me was a comment on a natural skin care website where they advised to either "go natural or go the jab", because nothing you apply topically to your skin can stop your muscles contracting. 

Right, I'd made up my mind to do it! Then I researched the best place to have it done. It turned out there were lots of clinics etc, but I chose a cosmetic surgery clinic that only had registered nurses administering the botox injections. They offered a free consultation, with the option to go ahead if you wanted to. I'll admit I was nervous before I went, but also excited that I was finally doing something about my frown line. From the moment I walked in the door I was very impressed by the professionalism of the clinic. The staff were all extremely polite and respectful and my nurse Annie immediately put me at ease. She checked out my frown line, explained which muscles caused it and also told me sleeping on your side is a huge contributor to frown lines. She even had me lie down and used a mirror to show just how much my face did scrunch up when I slept. This was quite a revelation! She agreed I didn't need it anywhere else and also suggested we not overdo it on the first go, as she could always do a bit more later if necessary. She then told me the cost - $320 for 20 units. It was about what I was expecting to pay, so I decided I would just go for it.

The process of having the injections is very quick. After a few "before" photos for my file, Annie marked the areas with a highlighter and had me lie on a couch. She suggested closing my eyes (which I did!). I had a total of 5 injections and I really have to say it didn't hurt that much at all. They use a super fine needle and it was just a quick, minor sting. I guess if you are having lots and lots (some people have up to 40 units) it probably would start to hurt a bit. It was over in about three minutes. Annie covered the area with some make-up (to match what I was already wearing) and told me that I couldn't lie down or exercise for four hours. That is because you might cause it to 'drift' out of place if you do. She then explained I might get a small bruise or a headache and told me to call her if I had any problems at all. Then she explained it takes up to two weeks for it to fully take effect, (especially on the first injections) and made me an appointment to come back in a fortnight so she could check how it was going and administer more if I needed it.

The only evidence of my injections was a little red mark, that was only really obvious to me - I didn't come up in a bruise. Of course I immediately started trying to frown, even though I knew it took days to really work. At first it's really disappointing when you can still frown normally - and trust me you find yourself peering in the mirror all the time! But then, gradually you could see the botox really doing it's thing, little by little. And at the end of the two weeks it really was working. Annie had told me because I had such a strong frown and quite a deep line, it would take a few times before it really disappeared (if it ever completely did). And she was right, I still had a line. But it was so much less noticeable. Whereas before it had extended vertically at least halfway up my forehead, now it was only between my eyebrows and it was SO much softer. When I went back for my two week check, we talked about putting a little bit more in, but decided to keep it as it was. We also talked about some filler, but Annie suggested waiting for at least four treatments to see how the line went. The suggested interval between treatments is three months for the first few times and then less often as 'muscle memory' means you just don't frown like you used to.

My verdict?? I love it! No matter what the cosmetic solutions promise they simply cannot do what botox does. Sure it might seem a bit unnatural to inject poison (a tiny, tiny quantity) into your forehead - but no more unnatural than 'poisoning' yourself with alcohol, or ingesting chemical sprays and cleaning products or being subjected to electromagnetic radiation. I'm now three treatments in and noticing a cumulative effect each time. I'm still considering filler to really plump the area out, but on the whole I'm just happy that I'm not constantly thinking about my frown line all the time. Bear in mind too, that I'm talking about a very minor amount....I'm not a fan of hitting every single area of your face that moves and I don't agree with getting it before you get wrinkles. Like anything you can take it way too far.

Oh, and an interesting little side effect is that once you've had it done, you can really tell when others have too (by the way their forehead in particular moves). No matter what the TV stars all say (oh I had it once but it just wasn't for me!!), most of them are having it done regularly. And when you visit one of those clinics and they have three nurses doing it pretty much full time (and that's just one clinic), you come to realise that LOTS of people out there are on the botox train. Whether or not they admit it is another thing!

The only real downside for me is the cost, but the results are so good I just don't think about it not being value for money. I'll happily forgo a few nights out, or heaven forbid some new shoes to stop feeling self conscious about my appearance.


  1. Interesting Lizzy - thanks for your honest opinion. It's something I have thought about as well but have been too chicken to even check it out. Maybe I will?

  2. Thanks for sharing that. Lots of people obviously get Botox but not too many are prepared to admit it. I agree you can tell when people have had it done.