But can Botox actually prevent wrinkles from forming in the first place? Furthermore, is it safe to use if it’s not targeted towards treating something specific? To clear up any confusion, we’ve called upon the best cosmetics doctors in the business.
We all know that Botox, or Botulinum toxic, is used to smooth out existing wrinkles for a younger-looking skin.
But some people herald it as a preventative treatment to delay the initial onset of wrinkles, meaning that they are undergoing the treatment before they are showing any signs of fine lines.
First thing’s first, how exactly does Botox work?
Botox is actually a trade name for Botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein that temporarily paralyses muscles when injected. When Botulinum toxin is injected into a muscle underneath the skin surface, it relaxes the muscle causing the overlaying skin to appear smoother, making it a popular anti-wrinkle treatment in the cosmetics industry.
So, why would someone use Botox before they have wrinkles?
“Preventative Botox is a method of using Botox to prevent the formation of static lines which will become more apparent and progress to deep lines during the ageing process if not treated,” explains Dr Tijion Esho, revered cosmetic doctor. In this way, rather than treating existing and fully formed wrinkles, preventative Botox stops them from forming in the first place by paralysing the muscles which cause them.
When should you first think about a preventative Botox treatment?
According to Dr Jonquille Chantrey, Aesthetic Surgeon and International Beauty Lecturer, it’s the job of your cosmetic doctor to assess whether or not you could benefit from preventative Botox; “Whether or not to administer preventative Botox all depends on the natural facial expressions of the individual in front of me – I never give a blanket approach for all. For instance, some people frown a lot from wearing glasses, or not wearing glasses when needed – this can present in the late 20s. If it is pulling the brows down and Botox could quickly prevent a permanent line then I would consider treatment. For me skincare is extremely important, this is a strong preventive measure that is often ignored by practitioners in younger age groups. This can work beautifully with very light Botox injections. Overall, the youngest of my patients starting Botox injections tend to be late 20s.”
According to Dr Mervyn Patterson, Cosmetic Doctor at Woodford Medical, there’s a simple way for a practitioner to test whether the muscle in question is beginning to form marks on the skin. “A simple test is to pull the area apart with your fingers and see if there is still a line present,” he explains. “If there is then I will have a discussion about using Botox to gently relax the muscles so we prevent further deterioration. The typical areas we are talking about are the vertical lines between the brows and the horizontal lines across the forehead. To leave these expressions untreated risks the wrinkle getting worse and being more difficult to treat in the future. In these cases we normally require less Botox to achieve the wanted effect and treatments are usually further apart. In experienced hands this light touch approach should be undetectable by anyone else.”
Is the procedure the same as a wrinkle-smoothing one?
In many ways, yes. There’s still a needle and injections. However, according to Dr Esho, the amount of Botox used will be far less. “In causes of treatment of fine line and wrinkles, you would use the therapeutic indicated dose to treat the fine lines. In preventive Botox there aren’t static lines present or if they are they are very fine therefore the dose used tends be a lot smaller which some refer to as micro Botox,” he explains.
What about the risks?
With any cosmetic treatment, there are associated risks and it’s important to weigh them up in light of the potential rewards in order to work out if it’s all worth it for you.
“One risk is an inadequate assessment of the patient and just freezing out expressions,” says Dr Chantrey. “This can look unattractive and carry noticeable stigma of treatment which can make someone look older. But too much into somewhere that naturally lifts can cause heaviness. The wrong placement into the forehead can make the brows look either heavy or give an exaggerated brow arch. A heavy eyebrow can be difficult to correct when over treated for a long time. A subtle dosing can give a beautifully lifted brow that looks natural. Chasing wrinkles around the eyes can lead to a change in the smile which I think is less flattering. I alter the dose around the eyes so the skin looks smoother – but without making the smile look pinched.”
Plus, Dr Esho adds another important factor to consider; “Using Botox repeatedly over a long period from a young age can result in atrophy of the muscles and in some rare causes patients can build up a resistance to Botox.”
The most important thing to do if you’re considering preventative Botox is to research the procedure, try any non-invasive alternatives, and consult a reputable, qualified doctor.