“You don’t need Botox,” is something I always heard from other people whenever I considered getting it done. At the risk of humblebragging, it was true. Well, nobody needs Botox, of course, but my skin didn’t really show signs of aging, like wrinkles or fine lines, until I was well into my 30s. I always figured when the time came, I would get a touch of the ol‘ ’tox. And it finally did.
In the past couple of years, I noticed that the dent in the middle of my forehead that occurred whenever I made “the Lodi scowl” began to linger around like a ghost wrinkle. I also saw a few deeper lines settling in on the top of my forehead. So I decided the year I turned 40 would also be the year of treatments, starting with neurotoxins. Baby’s first Botox!
My decision to get Botox aligned with “the Zoom boom,” which experts have referred to as the rise in aesthetic treatments resulting from everyone staring into their own reflections all day long during the pandemic. My at-home desk situation didn’t help, as I was constantly looking into a large light-up mirror that was placed right behind my computer screen. Rude. Between researching and writing about Botox over the years and having many friends who had it done, I was confident about getting it now more than ever before.
First of all, there is much more education around injectables, along with different options for wrinkle relaxers. (Aside from Botox, there’s Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau.) Second, the stigma surrounding aesthetic procedures like Botox has decreased immensely in the past decade. (Remember how much criticism Nicole Kidman received for having a “frozen” face?) People are much more open about what they get done thanks in part to social media and the culture of self-care. I didn’t feel like I would be judged, and even if I was, I didn’t really care. These types of treatments are also more accessible and not only reserved for the rich and famous as they may have been in days past.
Still, a needle in the face can be intimidating for anyone. However, my fears were quelled knowing my Botox would be done by a skilled and experienced injector: Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. The first thing I asked Shamban was whether there was any possibility that I was doing Botox “too late.” Ridiculous, I know, but you hear so much about preventative Botox these days it makes you wonder if there are any downsides to having it done after 40. Thankfully, Shamban assured me that it wasn’t a concern, especially as my skin was “nice and thick” and because I “probably didn’t have these wrinkles 10 years ago.” (I did not.) Having thick skin, literally, was an advantage for me. Research has shown that people with more melanin in their skin have “thicker and more compact dermis,” which can contribute to less visible aging signs. Some people might benefit more by having Botox earlier in their 20s. It’s different for everyone.
Shamban also says that Botox has been shown to “improve the quality of the skin and forehead through physiological effects of the product.” Additionally, it can be used as a nonsurgical brow-lift, as a temporary nose job, to enhance lips with a “lip flip,” to sculpt the jawline, and even to curb sebum and oil production, resulting in fewer acne breakouts. She also explained other benefits of Botox aside from aging and aesthetics. While it can help with issues like migraines and excessive sweating, another possible benefit relates to my aforementioned “Lodi scowl,” known as resting bitch face to those with a similar affliction.
“If you’re a person that frowns when you’re concentrating, but people think you’re angry with them, this completely eliminates that. So you look serene and happy,” says Shamban. (If only I could have gotten Botox as a child, the bullies who wanted to beat me up for “looking mad” might have left me alone!) Interestingly enough, there have also been studies pointing to Botox as a potential treatment for depression. This is tied to the facial feedback theory that a physical expression of emotion can trigger a matching emotional response. “There’s a feedback loop between when you frown and your mood state. So if you’re not frowning and just sort of lift your brows, then you automatically feel better. It’s psychological,” says Shamban.
Since my wrinkle concerns were only confined to my forehead and frown lines, those were the only areas of my face where Shamban made the injections. It went by fast and was practically a pain-free experience. She explained that I’d start to see the effects of the Botox over the next three days, but I had already begun to notice my lines starting to disappear a few hours later. Each day, my wrinkles decreased more and more, and just like clockwork, the dent was gone by the third day. I was amazed at how quickly and effectively it worked. The effects, she said, should last three to four months. A surprise bonus is the Botox lifted my brows a bit, which Shamban said could happen. I feel like I look more awake, which is nice.
Overall, I am loving the results of my Botox but don’t regret waiting this long to get it. And while I do love how the dent in the middle of my forehead is gone, not being able to shoot the same bitch face to someone does take some getting used to. I’m going to have to get a little more creative with my dirty looks…
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