Take the Fear Out of Botox & Injectables

By Laura Kay

“I don’t want my face to be frozen!”
“My friend’s cousin got that done and now she can’t even smile!”
“I’m only 45 years old, I don’t need my face filled with that stuff yet!”
“That stuff looks SO fake! I don’t want to look like a Real Housewife of Hollywood!”

If there’s one cosmetic treatment on the market today tainted by misinformation, misconceptions, and false horror stories, it’s definitely injectables, such as Botox and Juvederm. Although injections are certainly a more invasive treatment than basic facials or microdermabrasion, they are one most effective procedures for improving the inevitable skin changes we all face – lines, wrinkles, volume loss, and the effects of gravity over time.

In the capable hands of a trained and experienced cosmetic physician, pharmaceutical- grade cosmetic products like Botox and Juvederm can be used conservatively and skillfully to restore your skin to a youthful condition, still with a very natural appearance. I’ve been having these treatments done for about 5 years, and anyone I’ve ever shared my secret with was shocked that I’d ever even had anything done at all! I’m here today to bust any myths about these treatments, and hopefully ease your mind if it’s something that you’ve been considering trying out.

BOTOX

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Botox is one of the best ways to combat what we in the skin care industry refer to as dynamic lines – lines that appear due repetitive facial expressions, such as smiling, frowing, and raising the eyebrows. It is administered specifically around the eyes for crow’s feet, between the brows for frown lines, and across the forehead for horizontal lines.

It’s a medication derived from botulinum toxin, a protein that comes from a bacteria. Yes, this sounds a little sketchy, but Botox has been approved for years by the FDA for a number of uses – both medical and cosmetic. In addition to treating facial lines and wrinkles, it also works wonders for medical conditions such as chronic headaches, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), and other more serious neuromuscular disorders.

It is injected in very tiny amounts for cosmetic use, which is completely metabolized and eliminated by the body after a period of time, making it a very safe, non-permanent option for the treatment of lines and wrinkles.

The procedure takes under ten minutes and involves intramuscular injections, in which a cosmetic physician injects the product beneath the skin into the underlying facial muscles. Botox works by essentially turning off communication between the facial muscle and it’s corresponding nerve ending, which basically is what ‘tells’ that muscle to contract or move when we make facial expressions. This effect results in the muscle staying perfectly relaxed under the skin (NOT totally paralyzed as we sometimes hear about Botox), allowing the skin to stay flat and smooth, instead of crinkling up like an accordion, leaving lines and wrinkles. And yes – you will still be able to smile!

The treatment isn’t terribly painful, but it is a needle (or several) after all. You will feel that pinprick sensation of getting a needle, but usually the doctor will use very fine, small-gauge insulin syringes to administer the product to ensure optimal patient comfort. It is normal to see some slight redness and puffiness at each injection site (they look like fresh little mosquito bites!), but this will subside within a couple of hours. Minor bruising is a common concern, but this can be covered almost immediately with makeup, and will usually resolve within about a week. The product will take full effect within about 2 weeks, and you can expect the improvement to any lines or wrinkles to last for about 4 months before you’ll need it done again!

Cost can vary depending on which area you’re injecting, and how much of the product is required. Most clinics price their Botox per unit, anywhere from $8 to $13 per unit. A procedure can require anywhere from as little as 8, to as many as 75 units or more, depending on the patient’s age, strength of their facial muscles, how many facial areas are being treated, and of course, the severity of their lines.
Botox can be a great corrective treatment for existing lines, but it can also act as a preventative measure by relaxing facial muscles at the early onset of faint lines, eliminating them completely and preventing them from ever becoming worse if you keep up with follow up procedures.

“I don’t want my face to be frozen!”
“My friend’s cousin got that done and now she can’t even smile!”
“I’m only 45 years old, I don’t need my face filled with that stuff yet!”
“That stuff looks SO fake! I don’t want to look like a Real Housewife of Hollywood!”

DERMAL FILLERS

Fillers such as Juvederm are another type of injectable that treat facial lines and wrinkles, but differ from Botox in that they are designed to treat lines that appear due to volume loss, mainly on the lower two thirds of the face. It can be injected in the hollowed area around our eyes and cheekbones, around the jawline, as well as around the mouth and jaw area. As we age, the fatty tissues responsible for that youthful plumpness we have in our early years break down and replace at a much slower rate. Gravity takes it’s toll on our skin over time, causing the skin to become slack and loose. Inevitable skin changes affect the overall texture of our skin, leaving it lined with a lack of fullness.

Many modern fillers like Juvederm are made of something called hyaluronic acid (HA), which is a naturally occurring sugar in our bodies. HA acts as the skin’s moisture binder – think of a sponge, saturated with water. The sponge is fully hydrated, appearing moist and full. As we age, HA production slows down significantly, and our ‘sponge’ becomes progressively less hydrated, with less fullness, healthy moisture, and volume.

HA fillers are used to replace this natural volume and restore what we once had, not necessarily give us something we never had in the first place. They can also be used to contour and retexture the face, giving us those coveted cheekbones, fill in darkened, hollow areas around the eyes, and even create fuller lips.

The procedure requires some creative skill on the part of the practitioner. It gets injected into the dermal levels of the skin, and can usually take anywhere from about 30 to 45 minutes to achieve a complete, desired look. It can be slightly more uncomfortable than something like Botox, but in many modern fillers, there is a local freezing agent in the product itself to enhance patient comfort. Cost ranges from about $500 to $700 per syringe, a procedure requiring anywhere from 2 to 6 syringes, sometimes more depending on the type of filler, areas requiring treatment, and extent of volume loss. The effects of Juvederm or similar HA fillers can last anywhere from 6 to 18 months, sometimes more depending on where specifically they have been injected, and the type of filler used.

Like Botox, bruising and redness is very normal post-treatment, as is a slight soreness or discomfort at the site of each injection. With any procedure that breaks the skin’s barrier, including injectables, there is always a small risk of infection.

Although injectables are a highly effective and very safe option for overall aesthetic improvement, I highly recommend doing your research and having these procedures done under the care of a skilled, experienced, board-certified cosmetic physician. A ‘Botox Party’ might sound like a fun night out with your girlfriends, but injectable skin treatments are not something you want to be having done impulsively after having a couple glasses of champagne!

The results of both Botox and Juvederm can be very impressive, producing almost surgical results without the downtime or risk! They can be used to rejuvenate and contour the face in a very subtle and natural way when used correctly – no one will ever know your secret!

Laura Kay

Laura Kay is a makeup artist and skin care specialist from Stoney Creek, Ontario.  Over the past several years she has built a successful career in the cosmetics industry working as a spa aesthetician, cosmetic dermatology technician, as well as a freelance makeup artist.  She continues to develop her knowledge and skills as a cosmetic expert by participating in workshops, tradeshows, and other events, and loves to educate others through blogging and social networking to share her knowledge with others.

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