Ever since Botox was approved for cosmetic purposes in 2002, it’s become one of the most popular non-surgical ways to look younger. According to stats released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 6.7 million Botox procedures performed in 2015.
But what is exactly is Botox? Allergan, the company that manufactures the drug defines it as “a prescription medicine that is injected into muscles and used to temporarily improve the look of both moderate to severe crow’s feet lines and frown lines between the eyebrows in adults.”
So how do you know if Botox is right for you? I asked Dr. Babak Dadvand, a double board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, who says the first step is taking a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. “The best candidate for Botox is someone who has lines even when they are not making expressions,” he recommends. Here are some questions to consider asking yourself — and the professional performing the procedure — before taking the plunge (of the needle, that is).
Is your medical professional qualified?
While it’s becoming just as easy to book an appointment for Botox, as it is for a manicure, that doesn’t mean everyone is qualified. Dr. Sal Nadkarni, aka Dr. Sal, is a Los Angeles-based Botox expert who previously conducted research studies on the drug. He currently owns mobile medspa Rejuvenation in Motion. “These days it seems like everywhere you look there’s a new medspa opening up, with anybody and everybody administering Botox. Each state however has specific regulations that describe who can, and can’t, administer Botox,” he revealed. “In California, licensed physicians (MD or DO) are allowed to administer Botox, regardless of board certification. Physician’s Assistants (PA), Nurses (RN), and Nurse Practitioners (NP) are also allowed to administer Botox if they are under the supervision of a licensed physician. In California however, estheticians and medical assistants are not allowed to administer Botox.”
Even other types of medical professionals are starting to offer these services, as Dr. Sal revealed, “Some dentists these days are administering Botox for cosmetic purposes. Dentists are also governed by state regulations though on their ability to cosmetically administer Botox.”
Dr. Sal shared one more tip to keep in mind, “Regardless though of whether your Botox injector is a physician, PA, RN, NP, or dentist, it’s important to ensure that the person has had official training in cosmetic injections, and is a certified injector.” Never be afraid to ask.
Are there any risks or side affects?
According to Dr. Dadvand, “There are no significant risks with Botox.” But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a few things before having the procedure. He says, “There is a risk of bruising or swelling at the injection site, but this is temporary.” So if you have an event coming up, it’s probably a good idea to schedule your Botox a few days in advance.
Dr. Dadvand also suggests planning your day around the procedure, “Typically patients should not exercise or lie down a couple hours after the injection. When people exercise they usually activate their facial muscles, which might cause the Botox to move to adjacent muscles. The same with laying down right after the injections.”
If you suffer from certain medical conditions, Dr. Dadvand suggests getting approval from your regular doctors first, advising, “Patients who have a neuromuscular disorder like myasthenia gravis or multiple sclerosis should get clearance from their neurologists.” He also warns that pregnant women should not receive Botox injections.
Do I need Botox or something else?
Some people think they need Botox, when they really need fillers instead. I spoke with Nurse Nataly of iGlow Med Spa in Beverly Hills to clarify the difference. She explained, “Botox is used widely for dynamic wrinkles. For instance, in between the eyebrows, around the forehead and wrinkles around the eyes to stop muscle movement that results in wrinkles.”
She continued, “Botox, though it delivers magnificent skin-smoothing results, will not be able to fill sagging or drooping skin. Dermal fillers including Restylane and Juvederm use a substance called Hyaluronic Acid that is produced naturally by your own body to fill the volume loss due to signs of early aging. Depending on the filler chosen by your professional, it can last you six months to two years. Fillers can be used to fix many concerns related to aging, including volume and smoothing out the deep creases that run from the nose to the mouth, plumping lips and smoothing out lines around the edges of the lips, augmenting cheeks to enhance the shape, filling out hollows under the eye area and increasing volume to fill out gauntness in the lower cheek or temple area.”
To make your face look its best, Nurse Nataly suggests using a combination of both, “Botox and fillers work in different ways and many people choose to use them simultaneously because the combination can produce a remarkably more youthful appearance.”
Is this the right time to be doing this?
Many people want to get Botox before a big event such as their wedding. But in order for the drug to work properly, the timing needs to be right. According to Dr. Dadvand, “Botox typically lasts three months. This can vary by a few weeks from person to person. It can take up to seven days to fully work, but most people begin to notice the effects after two to three days.”
In order to avoid any problems, Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, Beverly Hills-based board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California, suggested to me that it’s best to have an open dialogue in advance. “Let your provider know your timeline, so that they can guide you regarding when you should come in for treatment,” she says.
She also suggests being prepared, saying, “Know that you might bruise, and this can happen to anyone. It is usually obvious at the time of injection, so bring along some cover up makeup, if you want to hide any telltale signs.”