I’ve been getting Botox regularly for 12 years. I was 37 my first time, recently divorced and feeling haggard, and it didn’t help that one of my then-young daughters asked me why my face had so many lines.
Once I started, a little Botox between the furrowed brows turned into tackling the deep lines across my broad forehead, and then eventually the smile lines by my eyes, and so on.
According to Time magazine, Botox use is up 759 percent since 2000 (I had to triple-check that stat; it’s so big it doesn’t even seem like a real number). We pay a lot of money to do this depending on what part of the country we live in, how resistant our muscles are, and how many areas we want to tackle—according to RealSelf, $550 on average, every three to four months.
Botox is made from a purified version of the toxin secreted by the bacteria that causes botulism. And yet, we continue to get it because it successfully (and safely, provided it’s done right) smooths wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing our facial muscles.
Botox for now, but maybe not forever
Personally, I’m super grateful Botox exists. But am I conflicted that I use it? Yes. I’m vaguely embarrassed by spending the money, when there are a million other important uses for a few thousand dollars a year. It also feels like an insult to feminism. Why can’t I just be me?
So do I sometimes wish I would stop? Yes. Am I planning to stop? Not yet.
Related: 5 Botox myths, debunked
I have really intense furrows between my eyes and a huge forehead with deep horizontal creases. (Or at least I think I do—it’s been a while since I’ve seen them in full force.) I feel like my wrinkles make me look old and grumpy.
After Botox, my face is placid and thus appears more youthful, and that makes me feel better about myself out in the world. But my modus operandi at the moment is to try to go longer between appointments and to ride out seeing my lines emerge.
A new Botox experience
All these years I’d only ever gone to one practitioner, but last month RealSelf offered to arrange a complimentary Botox treatment with Dr. Lara Devgan, a top plastic surgeon in New York City and RealSelf’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Devgan came highly recommended, and I was intrigued. Is there an art to this practice? Would one doctor inject more or less, make me look younger or more natural, or in any way different from another?
Dr. Devgan herself is gorgeous, with long dark hair and a vibe of glossy efficiency. Her Park Avenue offices are super swank (think white leather, gleaming chrome, stunning young receptionists). She appears to be around 32, but she happened to mention that she has six kids, which blew me away, so I have no idea a) how old she is or b) how she does it all, but God bless.
For those of you who don’t know the mechanics of the procedure, here’s how it goes:
You sit in the medical chair, and the doctor takes a very fine needle and injects your face potentially dozens of times, depending on how many areas you want done. As she’s moving around the needle and poking you with it, she’s asking you to frown, smile, look concerned, all expressions that will elicit the grooves and lines that will ultimately be temporarily erased.
The whole thing takes less than five minutes. You bleed little droplets maybe, and afterward, they hand you a small ice pack to pat your face and minimize the minor swelling and irritation.
For the rest of the day you shouldn’t lie down or exercise, and within hours no one can tell you’ve done anything. It can be 4-6 days before it starts to take effect and you see the “new” you.
Most of this was the same as what I’d experienced in the past. However, there were a few notable differences. First, Dr. Devgan worked very quickly—I felt like I was in the hands of a true master. Second, after every needle prick came the bzzzz of a gold vibrating pen, a gizmo that apparently distracts the nerve and makes the whole thing even less painless than it already is.
The combined result was that the treatment was a complete breeze, a blip in my day.
Also, I had told Dr. Devgan that I wanted a natural look, and that’s what I got: my forehead moves, and I can make expressions of delight and disgust, but I’m not as furrowed as I’d be without the goods. (I’m of the mind that one has to be super-careful about overdoing any of these interventions, and I’m always in fear of frozen face syndrome.)
Science has afforded us incredible technology that at least temporarily turns back time, and there shouldn’t be any shame in putting them to use. Why should any of us judge?
Each of us as women have to reckon with our choices and be respectful of what others choose to do. Ultimately, feeling good in our skin, however we do that, should be the goal.