March 5, 2018

Your Complete Guide To Botox (& Botox-Shaming)

I GET BOTOX. Is that a big deal? Is it taboo? Is it vain? Not to me. I’m not writing this post because I think you should get Botox; that’s a personal choice. I’m writing this post because most people don’t talk about Botox… or worse, judge others for getting it (especially in the corporate world). I want to change that.

My personal Botox story

I first got Botox about a year ago. I was in business school, and maybe the stress and sleepless nights started to age me a bit (or maybe it was all the beer pong tournaments and the fact that I was 27). I would come home, look in the mirror, and study my large, OVERLY-expressive forehead, which was starting to show the first signs of fine lines. I’ve always been obsessed with how technology can enhance our lives – and to me, researching how Botox works isn’t dissimilar from evaluating the specs of the new iPhone. So I’d always been curious, and had researched Botox before my forehead lines started bothering me. But once they did, I wanted to talk to someone who had actually tried Botox. Because don’t get me wrong, it WAS a big deal to me at the time, and I was pretty scared to try it. I asked a bunch of friends who I thought might have dipped their toe into the Botox pond. I got nothing. Apparently, none of my friends, ranging from mid-20s to early 30s in age, had ever tried Botox. Since losing my Botox virginity, I’ve been an open book about my experience. Some of those same friends have since come clean to me that they DO get Botox. Some of them started as young as 20 years old. (What’s with all the secrecy? I’ll get to that in a bit.) Anyway, after a few months of over-analyzing both the procedure and my face, I YOLOed and decided to go for it. What ultimately convinced me is the fact that Botox has phenomenal preventative effects – and could actually help me avoid more invasive procedures later on (more on this below). I told my (ex) fiancé Tracy (who was v supportive, even though he thought I was nuts), made a consultation appointment, and drove myself there (anxiety in full-swing). I peppered my doctor with the list of 20+ questions I had in my phone notes. What does it feel like? Am I too young? What if I don’t like it? WHAT IF MY FACE IS FROZEN FOREVER?! She was remarkably patient, and after about 45min, I decided to get my very first Botox injections.

My first Botox injections

My doctor pulled a frozen water balloon out of the freezer for me to use to numb my face. She had me make all sorts of expressions while she marked up my forehead with white chalk. She even gave me a stuffed animal to hold, but my OCD got the best of me and I was too afraid to touch it for fear of other patients’ germs. Stuffed animal aside, everything else she used – the Botox itself and the needles – were brand new and individually wrapped. The whole place smelled super sterile tbh, which of course I loved. I asked her to go SUPER conservative (Botox is the only area in which I’m conservative). She pricked me a few times on the top of my forehead. Some hurt more than others – but in general, I’d say the whole thing hurt about as much as an eyebrow wax. Really not that bad. I got 10 units (which at $14 a pop, came out to $140). I should mention that people with small to medium foreheads often don’t get Botox on the top of their forehead to maximize eyebrow mobility. I have a big forehead, and this is where I saw the lines, so that’s where I got my Botox. Many people get their first Botox in the frown lines between their eyes (often shaped like the number 11), but I didn’t get any there my first time bc I wanted people to be able to tell if I was pissed off. The whole procedure took about five minutes. Honestly once she was done I was like… that’s… it? I had a few tiny mosquito bite marks on my forehead that disappeared in about twenty minutes. I started to see the effects within the hour, but the full effects took about three days to show up. When they did, I was legit AMAZED. My forehead was smooth and glowy! The only problem was because I didn’t get any Botox in my frown lines, my frown lines were now more prominent. I went in for a touchup and got a few more units between my frown lines and BAM – I had this refreshed, relaxed look – basically me but after a really good sleep and facial. I loved it! Since then, I’ve gotten a Botox touch-up about every 4 months. I just got my Botox done last week, in fact. Depending on how long it’s been, I get between 5 and 20 units. I later learned that this is referred to as “Baby Botox” (basically, lower volumes of Botox used in super targeted areas — NOT Botox for actual babies). I haven’t touched my eyes / crow’s feet (nothing wrong with this, but I like my lines there) or my smile lines (be careful with those – you don’t want to affect your smile). I started getting a bit in my jaw muscles for TMJ (teeth grinding) at night – which has been life-changing (because let’s be honest… I was never going to wear that night guard retainer). And in case you’re wondering, I have ZERO regrets. I LOVE BOTOX. It makes me happy, I like the feeling (as masochistic as that sounds), and I look forward to getting it! I DO wish I had friends to answer my million questions beforehand though. SO I’m going to preemptively answer those questions now.


What is Botox?

Botox, or Botulinum toxin type A, is a commercial neurotoxin that reduces muscle movement and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Basically, it paralyzes your facial muscles. That sounds scary, but it’s temporary. It’s also totally safe. In fact, Botox is one of the most studied and tested medical aesthetic treatments out there.

Is Botox preventative?

Yes! To me, this is the most exciting thing about Botox. I’m ALL about prevention. Imagine your skin like a piece of paper. As you fold a piece of paper over and over, the deeper the creases get. With Botox, your skin doesn’t fold along those lines repeatedly, which means that wrinkles can’t form.

What’s the difference between Botox and fillers?

Botox prevents muscle contractions, which prevents the formation of wrinkles and lines. Fillers like Juvederm and Restylane are used to FILL those lines in order to hide the wrinkles – they don’t prevent wrinkles. Botox prevents the wrinkles from forming in the first place, so you won’t have to fill them later on.

How much does Botox cost?

The average cost of Botox is $9 – $20 per unit, depending on where you live and where you go. By the way, I HIGHLY recommend you go to a plastic surgeon (MD), rather than an aesthetic nurse. Some aesthetic nurses are great, but a doctor doesn’t necessarily cost any more money. Either way, do your due diligence. This is not the time to use a Groupon or go to a “Botox party” in someone’s home (that said, no one’s ever invited me a Botox party – I’m not a Real Housewife). The number of units you need is a matter of personal preference and the areas treated, but each area is usually around 10-20 units. Botox typically lasts 3-4 months, but everyone metabolizes it differently. I’ve found that since I’ve had a few treatments, it builds up and lasts longer for me now.

What are Botox’s pre and post-treatment instructions?

Before getting Botox, avoid Retin-A, waxing, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, herbal supplements, and Omega-3 capsules for a few days to prevent topical reactions and bruising. After Botox, it’s possible you will experience light bruising (I’ve barely had this though, and I bruise REALLY easily). You can apply an ice pack if you need, but I haven’t found it necessary. Avoid exercise and direct sunlight for the day.

Does Botox have non-cosmetic benefits?

Yes. You’ve prob seen the migraine commercials for Botox. THIS IS REAL. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t get Botox to treat my migraines. But I DO get migraines much less frequently – which has been a total added bonus of Botox. It’s also helped my TMJ. Botox is also used to treat underarm and hand sweating (um… I want this), over-active bladders, cross-eyedness, painful sex, tremors, and more.

When’s the best time to start getting Botox?

This was the #1 question I wanted the answer to before getting Botox. I never got it, because there is no right answer – it’s completely individual. The “right” time to start is whenever the hell you want. I don’t get Botox for anyone other than myself, so 27 was the “right” time for me to start getting Botox, because that’s when I started wanting it. Keep in mind that everyone has different facial features, ages differently, and has different aesthetic desires for the future. And yes, many people will recommend treating lines before they even form. I know plenty of people that started getting Botox under the age of 25. Do you “need” Botox that young? No. Do you ever “need” it? No.

How common is Botox?

More common than you think, especially because most people keep it on the DL. As my doctor not-so-politically-correctly put it, “even the mousey girl on the street is getting Botox.” It’s also becoming more and more common. There were over 7 million Botox procedures in 2016 (up 4% from 2015, and 854% from 2000). It’s also becoming increasingly common for men.

So if Botox is so common, why is it so taboo?

Botox is kinda like online dating. No one talks about it, but everyone does it. Is that because everyone wants you to think that their faces are naturally taut, glowing, and wrinkle-free? Maybe. But I’d argue it’s deeper than that.

Botox-shaming is a real thing

Just like Marikh accused Chelsea of “glam-shaming” on The Bachelor, “Botox-shaming” is a real thing. brains over blonde botox Think about it. Have you ever seen a woman get praised for getting Botox or other cosmetic procedures? I haven’t. Quite the opposite. In my experience, at even the most obscure RUMOR of a cosmetic procedure, women are scorned for being fake and vain. I once had a friend tell me she felt like she had to “come out” as having had a nose job for the rest of her life, just to avoid the rumor mill. Even so, she didn’t avoid the judgment. I’ve said this a million times, but as women, we’re constantly walking a fine line. Society has trouble seeing women as multi-faceted. So if a woman’s had plastic surgery or Botox, she’s vain, and she can’t possibly ALSO be smart/driven/philanthropic/fill-in-the-blank. Men don’t face the same dichotomy, which is why male celebrities’ nose jobs regularly go unnoticed while female celebrities’ are scrutinized. I was even judged for having a (medically necessary) breast reduction, and my guess is at some point you’ve been judged or seen as less competent simply based on your makeup/hair/clothing… which is ridiculous. Botox isn’t any different. Botox doesn’t make you less competent. I could even go so far to argue that Botox isn’t too dissimilar from getting braces to straighten your teeth or white strips to whiten them. Is waxing your eyebrows or getting a piercing any less vain than Botox? Nah. So why haven’t cosmetic procedures like Botox found their place in today’s body positivity movements? I think most people associate cosmetic procedures with vanity and insecurity. For what it’s worth, I didn’t get Botox because of insecurity. Vanity? Maybe a little. But who cares? That “vain” procedure made me feel confident and empowered! Isn’t that what matters? I’d argue that most people that get cosmetic Botox are doing so because they love and appreciate how they look, and/or because it gives them that extra boost of confidence (just like a new outfit does). In fact, it’s been widely proven that the confidence boost patients see from cosmetic procedures extends to many parts of their lives – including their relationships, career, mental state, and more.

Why I’m open about my Botox

I made the decision to get Botox by myself and for myself. I’m proud of my decision and thrilled with the outcome. I have no reason to hide it. I think there are a lot of people out there that would otherwise be open about their Botox and/or other cosmetic procedures, but fear being judged. (Which is a very real fear. I venture to guess that someone reading this is judging me right now.) If anything, that makes me even MORE confident in my decision to be open about my Botox and breast reduction. I hope that my stories can help someone feel less alone and make the decision that’s right for them. If you find yourself judging others for getting Botox, I challenge you to ask yourself WHY. Shouldn’t every person be able to make a choice about her own body without the fear of backlash? So, have YOU tried Botox? Do you want to? Do you think it’s the worst thing ever? I want to hear your thoughts! Share them below. I’m also here to answer any of your questions below!      

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