Sunday, August 2, 2015

Is Botox Worth It? My Botox Experience.

I've never been one for surgery mainly because I'm terrified of being cut open. But Botox is fairly harmless. No scalpels, no painful recovery. Everything I'd heard seemed like it was something I could do.
This Botox decision was years in the making. I never thought when I was 25 that I would be interested in something like this. When I hit 30, I started mulling it over in my head. Did I think it was an okay thing to do? How do I feel about injecting poison into my body? How do I feel about this morally? Blah, blah, blah.

Then I hit 36 and started seeing wrinkles for the first time. I hated them mostly because it was a sign that I wasn't 25 anymore. That even though I felt like I was young, I actually wasn't. Suddenly the outside was no longer matching the inside.

At 38, I'm more comfortable with the fact that I'm aging. I don't  mind my smile lines or the slight forehead wrinkles I have. But the one area I felt was going a little bit further into "wrinkleage" was between my eyes. I'm a chronic squinter. When I concentrate, I push my eyebrows together without even thinking about it.

The problem is that those "elevens" are a genetic inheritance from my father's side. There is no getting rid of them. I will have them. My dad and my grandma have them. However, they never had Botox! So they both look perpetually frowny faced. That just doesn't work for me because I am happy all the time. All the time. I can always find something to be happy about or appreciate about the situation I'm in. At work, people used to say they could always find my by following my laugh. That could be good or bad, though, so take it as you will! I promise I don't bray like a donkey.

After a bunch of research (I'm kind of obsessed with research), I discovered that Botox was really the only way I would be able to mitigate those frown lines. If I did it early enough, I wouldn't have lines at all and then there was the possibility of actually causing the atrophy of the frown muscles (not a technical term) so that they would be harder to use even without continued Botox. Since there are other muscles in that area, that didn't seem like much of a problem for me. But it is part of the reason so many actresses have dead faces. They literally cannot move their muscles because they've had so much Botox. I don't really want that!

I found a clinic through my friend, Erin. She had Botox for the first time and it turned out absolutely perfectly. When I saw that her frown lines between her eyes were gone, I made my appointment the next day. And the day after that, there I was, sitting in the Athenix offices.

The first thing I had to do was fill out paperwork detailing my health history and sign a paper that discussed all the things that could go wrong with getting Botox injections. Most of them had to do with getting Botox near the eye.
Then I was taken back to a little room just like you would find in a regular doctor's office. I waited about five minutes, sitting on the crunchy white paper on the exam table. Denise, who did Erin's Botox, arrived with the doctor. For the life of me I can't remember his name. He looked really stern and I was kind of unhappy he was there because I wanted girl time with my Botox! But it's the rules, apparently. A doctor must be present. He explained that Botox was a toxin, there were possible reactions I could have but chances were slim.

I told him what I wanted-- no frown lines between my eyebrows. He looked at me and said they didn't look so bad and would probably only need 12 units. Since I didn't know what that meant, I asked. He explained that Botox is administered by units. The glabella (that's doctor speak for the space between your eyebrows) usually takes 12-20 units on a woman. Men can need up to 30 because they tend to have more pronounced wrinkles there.
I inquired what was a normal amount of units for the forehead. Mine apparently looks pretty good and could be done with 20-30 but 30-40 is pretty normal for getting all the wrinkles ironed out of your forehead.

I was horrified and asked if you really had to get stabbed 40 times with a needle. Both the doctor and Denise laughed and said no. Thank goodness!! I was only poked three times for a total of 12 units. I'm sure the forehead gets more pokes but at least it's not 30!
One thing the doctor did was say that some people can have really strong muscles helping them squint and get lines and they need more units than average. Then he looked at me and my glabella, stretched my skin and said that I would have one wrinkle there that no amount of Botox would get rid of but that Botox would keep it from getting worse.
Apparently, if you can stretch your skin and the wrinkle goes away (and you can't see where it was) then that's the kind of wrinkle Botox can make sure you don't keep. Sadly, one of the three of mine is never going to disappear. Oh, well. At least I caught the others in time.

The doctor left, and Denise took out a HUGE needle, stabbed it into a little jar of Botox juice and started pulling back the plunger to suck out all that toxic goodness. It was like two inches long! I mentioned it and she said that this was not the needle she'd be using. The actual needle was much, much smaller. What a relief. I mean, I'm not terrified of needles (except at the dentist) but that first needle was a whopper.

She had me lay back on the table with a pillow which I did. I kept my eyes closed while she was talking to me because while I'm not afraid of needles I don't really want to see one making a beeline for my eye.

I should have put a coin in for reference. The needle is maybe the length of a
First, she wiped down the area and I wanted to know if it was okay to wear makeup to your Botox appointment. I hadn't worn any, just in case. She said it didn't matter at all because she would be cleaning it off. Of course, missing a forehead of makeup might make the bottom half of your face look funny if you have to go back to work.

Next, she asked me to frown so I pushed my brows together. She held onto the skin in that position then told me to relax them. Right, relax...
She pushed the needle in and it was just a pinpoint of sharp pain. Not bad, really. I can think of a thousand things that hurt way worse that I do to myself on purpose. Like pulling hairs. The needle was in for a total of 3-5 seconds, then pulled out.

The whole time she's doing this she's telling me that the needle can leave a small pinpoint bruise, possibly worse depending on if you're missing certain vitamins. Sometimes it can bleed after she pulls the needle out which the first and second stab I received did. By the third and last needle poke (each time frowning then relaxing before each one), I was barely registering the pain at all.
The doctor said that the glabella is the most painful and I didn't feel it was anything unbearable. Which means anything else would probably be barely noticeable. The least painful is the "crows feet."

Last, there was a wipe down of my forehead area and I sat up. Done! In under 30 minutes, the whole process was over and only about 6 of those were actually receiving treatment, laying on the exam chair.

Now, for the important stuff. It apparently takes two weeks to see the full effect of what has been done. For it all to settle in. For the first few days, you'll think it didn't do anything because you still have range of motion in the Botox area.

After I went home, I could feel the little bumps where the Botox had been injected but that went away by the third day. I took pictures of how my frown worked and they were still bad but not as bad as my before photos I took. The area was a little red after I got out and I could feel that something had happened there. I did end up bruising. Two bruises the size of a pencil eraser. I didn't even notice them until I got up close and personal so they were super easy to cover up with makeup.

I'm sure that this varies depending on your location so this really might not be relevant for you. I will say that I went to a clinic in a fairly affluent area and that the Seattle cost of living is very high. The Botox was $15 a unit. It's usually 12-20  units for the glabella, and 40 for the forehead (I didn't ask about crow's feet). So you can imagine how high the price can go. It lasts about three months but apparently after a year, you don't need it as often. So the biggest expenditure will be the first year if you decide to keep up on it.

These are my befores. Makeup free except for brow pencil. This is before my skincare routine, too, because I wanted it to be as real as it gets. And no making fun of my weird camera eye contact. I'm terrible at selfies because I never take them.
Day One:
This is immediately after the office visit. Again, I'm bad at selfies and never know where to look! Ignore that. There is a very slight difference only at this point.

Day Two:
I felt that there was a definite difference in how deep the wrinkles could go when squinching my eyebrows together. Denise had said if I felt I had too much range of movement after a week, she could add more units. I'm hoping that won't be necessary.
Day Three:
I feel like the bruises are more prominent but I can't see them when I take a photo. It's a little tender in one spot but just because of the bruise. I still have a range of movement but comparing my before photos with now, there's a huuuge difference.
Again, no makeup and before my moisturizer for the ultimate in reality. I try not to be horrified looking at these. I'm squinching as hard as I can in the second one and it's not even close to as bad as my before. In my before, there are three definite humps of skin. In this one there is only one (the middle one).
Day Seven: What a difference! I now have to think really hard in order to make my brows push together. And when I do there's barely a wrinkle. Just that one. And that's the one the doctor said was too far along to permanently get rid of anyway.
Day Fourteen: It's now been two weeks. That means this is what it's supposed to look like for approximately the next three months. As you can see, I can barely push my brows together. There is a hint of a wrinkle on the left side of my glabella but I don't think I care. I don't want to be completely expressionless.
But even more interesting is the fact that it has also affected my forehead. When I lift my brows, the only wrinkles that appear are near my hairline. If you look closely at the photo, you can see a wrinkle at the top of my forehead. That's where the wrinkling starts. Whereas previously they started much lower down near my eyebrows. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think it looks weird but maybe it's because I'm used to my face and someone else wouldn't notice?

So, was Botox worth it? Yes, I think it was. It definitely will be if I can keep from getting scowly face in my old age. :) I have an appointment in 3 months to do it again. I'll have to update this post in 3 months so you can see how the Botox has dissipated.

It's worth it to me. I didn't experience any side effects beyond bruising and that was temporary. I read a lot of studies and Botox is actually one of the safest procedures for getting rid of wrinkles. So while I don't think (never say never?) that I'd ever get a facelift, and while I don't mind getting older and getting associated smile lines, etc, I'm happy that Botox can ease my fears of getting that scowl between my eyebrows. It's cheap and effective. Plus I still feel like I have a range of facial emotion without being frozen.

The one thing I think I would mention the next time I'm in, is how it affected my forehead when I raise my eyebrows. I don't mind getting wrinkles there and I'm a very expressive person. Heck, I was a sign language interpreter for years! I need those facial expressions. I'm just trying to avoid those deep grooves like my dad and grandma. Maybe I need fewer units, maybe they could have been dispersed a little differently, I'll ask next time.

UPDATE: It's been almost six months now and I've been keeping up with my injections approximately every three months. I am SO pleased with the results. The second time I went in and had it done, a doctor I hadn't seen before did it and I explained my problem with losing my forehead wrinkles when I lifted my left eyebrow. He used the same amount of units but placed them differently and it was perfect! He wasn't as gentle as Denise but he was more effective with the needle.

My husband has never once told me to stop scowling since I started Botox and I find that I no longer automatically squeeze my eyebrows together either. Because I can't. Hah! No new wrinkles have formed and it feels like the one that's permanent is also less noticeable. I'm so glad I caught it when I did! I wish I'd started a little earlier but one faint line is better than two or three deep ones!

How do you feel about Botox? Have you considered it? Done it? What was your experience?

*The first photo attributed toAmbro via


  1. Oh my gosh what an interesting post!! Thank you so much for writing it and posting about your experiences with Botox. I just turned 30 a few months ago and I don't have any serious wrinkling yet, but I am also a chronic squinter!! However I have a straight line across the bridge of my nose rather than the 11's, and I'm starting to notice the line is now staying there even when I'm not squinting. It's a very fine line, though, as are the very tiny beginnings of my crow's feet. I sometimes wonder if I should consider Botox a little earlier to see if I avoid making them worse and paying more? Would something like that work? hahah

    Again thank you for all the details and the step by step. It helps to hear about it from someone I trust! And btw- your forehead looks awesome!! :D

    1. It seems like that's the way it works-- get it early before the wrinkles start forming. I think it means that the muscles you use to make the wrinkles get so atrophied they just don't work any more. Which means you don't make the frowns so you're not making the wrinkles.

      Seems like a lot of work but we'll see how it goes. I don't think I'm the type to do this every three months forever but I could see once a year, just to mitigate the worst of it.

      It's funny how it was so... like nothing, really. Walk in, get poked, walk out. Done. I always assumed it was a big thing, know what I mean? Very anti-climactic.

  2. What a great post! Having just turned 37 Botox is something I've thought about but was worried I would look crazy and couldn't smile but you look fantastic! Luckily I'm not a squinter but my forehead is starting to show signs of wrinkling so it's definitely something I've been staring at in the mirror lately. Which is actually making me squint- uh oh!! Lol. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Haha! I think I wouldn't care as much if I didn't already know what the results of my squinting would look like in old age. I'm okay with some wrinkles but I don't want to look mean! But you better believe when I got home I was stretching all the skin on my forehead to see which wrinkles were the ones that would be with me forever. They're there but at our age it's pretty normal. Isn't it weird to think that we are this old? I still can't believe I'm supposed to be a grown up.

    2. Yes it is! I definitely don't feel grown up yet! Maybe since I don't have kids (well human kids anyhow) so I'm not someone's mom! Lol

  3. Thanks for the awesome post. As I turn 41 I was thinking of getting something like this done for the wrinkles on my forehead. This is really helpful. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome! I'm still surprised by how easy it was. I guess I was expecting it to be a big, dramatic production but really, I could have just got it done on my lunch break and the difference is pretty remarkable for such a small thing.

  4. I turn 39 in a week and I've been thinking about Botox for a while... I actually thought it was more expensive - I'll have to see if prices around here are the same.

    I want it for my laugh lines / crow's feet - I have always smiled a LOT and while that's not a bad thing, those wrinkles are going to be excessive and I don't like it. I'm okay not to be in my 20's anymore and was okay right until about 36 or so like you said when the fine lines really started to show.

    1. Happy early birthday!! I got Botox for the same reason you want it-- excessive lines. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and it's affordable enough that I'm willing to keep up with it. I don't mind some lines but I don't want them to be deep grooves! If you do it, you'll have to report back! :D

  5. Really interesting, thank you!
    I'm 39 tomorrow and whilst I don't really have any forehead lines or 11's (oily skin), I do have quite deep smile lines (nose to mouth) and one little (and very annoying) line below the corner of my mouth on one side. That little line annoys me the most as it makes my mouth look as though it turns down and although I'm a very smiley person it's is a bit tiring doing it constantly so as not to look like a really moody so and so!
    I think it would be fillers rather than botox in that case .....I may have to save up!

    1. My smile lines around my mouth are getting more noticeable, too. Since Botox is really about the muscle that makes the lines, not the line itself, you're probably right about needing fillers for the little line below the corner of your mouth. And ugh, fillers are way more expensive than Botox (at least here), I checked when I was doing my research. But it couldn't hurt to pop in to a clinic and just get a consultation to see what they say.

  6. Wowwww at the results! I'm pretty terrified of needles in general, but your experience doesn't sound *that* scary... thanks for sharing.

  7. I got Botox injection for my wrinkles at Med Aesthetics, a clinic in Brampton( ). It's temporary but it's effective and not too expensive. I am so happy with the results. But don't judge by price. Some of the cheap ones are great and some are terrible. Same is the case of expensive ones. Just check out with the doctors and talk to people before you go.