Beginner Botox: Why some are starting earlier

By Andrea Slaydon

HOUSTON - What do you know about the wrinkle eraser Botox? It's something you probably don't think about until you see those little lines starting to appear, but more people are starting Botox at a younger age than many might think.

Starting Botox sooner may keep lines and wrinkles at bay for longer.

Michele Deutsch, 50, has been getting Botox for about 10 years.

"It makes you look more refreshed," Deutsch said. "You just look rested."

She's a runner and spends a lot of time in the sun. Deutsch said she regrets not starting Botox sooner.

"I kind of wish I would have started younger because I just feel the Botox works well," Deutsch said. "I realized, you know, that it's time to be more preventative with this, more proactive in taking care of it and really keeping up with it. There are lines in my forehead that have just set because I didn't start it earlier. It's really good to do preventative Botox. I think it has helped a lot in other areas of my face."

"If you take care of problems on the front end, there is a lot less work on the back end," Dr. Sherry Ingraham, with Advanced Dermatology, said.

Ingraham  said if you wait until the line or wrinkle has been there a while, it will be harder to correct.

"You don't want to wait until it's deeply embedded," she said. "Deep, deep wrinkles are kind of like scars on the skin. If you can treat them when they are shallow, when they are more with movement, you can prevent those deep 11s from forming." (11s are the two lines that often appear between a patient's eyes.)

First-time Botox patient Ha Nguyen is in her early 30s and just started seeing a little line between her eyes.

"I wanted to do Botox to help straighten that out and smooth out that area," Nguyen said. "For me to get Botox, it's more to prevent the wrinkles from coming in before it starts getting any deeper for any that are already there."

Lupita Rodriguez, 33, has been fighting wrinkles for several years.

"I hate the way I just frown and my lines are always there," Rodriguez said. "The more you wait, the more prominent your lines are going to look in the middle. I love the way it makes me look and feel. As long as it's safe, that's all that matters to me."

There are no conclusive studies showing Botox is more beneficial when starting younger or less beneficial when using it later in life. However, Ingraham, who performs the cosmetic procedure multiple times a week, claims there's benefit in regular injections.

"Over time, you are training those muscles from not being so active, so there is some long-term benefit to doing it on a regular basis," she said. "There is no set age where Botox is right or wrong. It really depends on the individual, their lifestyle and their skin."

If Botox piques your interest, how do you know if you should start?

"A good rule of thumb is when the lines that you have with movement start to stay at rest, it's a good time to go to a board certified dermatologist and start the conversation," Ingraham said.

Botox costs about $200 to $400 a session, depending on the doctor you use.

"It's worth the price for me. I would keep doing it," Rodriguez said.

Most patients report the results last four to five months. Ingraham said the best way to prevent lines and wrinkles in the first place is to use sunscreen -- SPF 15 or higher -- and make sure it has broad spectrum protection for both UVB and UVA rays.

"You want to evaluate the whole patient," Ingraham said. "We don't want them to just be doing Botox. It's like putting new wheels on the car but the paint is peeling. You want to take care of the paint, you want to take care of the skin, and everything you do to enhance your look will look better because your skin looks great."

Botox dos and don'ts:

  • Do your homework. When considering Botox, Ingraham said to always make sure you go to a licensed doctor. You can check for a doctor near you on the American Academy of Dermatology website here.
  • Do have patience. Often it takes two to four days and sometimes up to 14 days to see the complete results from a Botox treatment.
  • Don't get Botox at a random party or secret location. It's becoming more popular for parties or Botox specials at homes. Doctors recommend always getting Botox at an office or controlled, clean environment for best results.
  • Don't overdo it. Doctors recommend starting very conservative on treatment and adding more from there. The results will last for months, so you don't want to go overboard on how much you get. You may be stuck with it for a while.
  • Don't expect a miracle. Botox is great, but sometimes it's not the only treatment you may need. Often, Botox is paired with injectable dermal fillers or other treatments to help correct wrinkles. This is especially true if you have waited until lines are very deep before starting treatment. Your doctor will help create a plan that is best for you.

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