In 2020, Botox was the most popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure performed. Plastic surgeons performed over 6.2 million Botox injections worldwide. Botox is most popular among ages 40-54, although in recent years, millennials (ages 26-41) are flocking to get Botox as well.
When a friend shared with me recently that people our age are getting botox as a preventative measure to avoid aging and wrinkles I was a bit stunned. Am I living under a rock I wondered? And is that rock Vermont? Until I learned some people my age are getting it here in Vermont too. Since that conversation, I’ve found myself analyzing my own fine lines and wrinkles. Frown lines between my eyebrows, forehead furrows, crows feet circling my eyes– all signs of aging, but also a young life well-lived with all the emotions having left their mark permanently on my face.
It got me thinking… What is the deal with Botox? What does the procedure entail? Why are people getting it? And is it safe?
To Botox Or Not, Examining The Decision To Get Botox
What is Botox?
Botox injections are made from the toxin Clostridium botulinum. This is the same toxin that causes a deadly food poisoning called botulism. When injected the botulinum toxin blocks chemical signals from nerves that cause muscles to contract. These muscles, responsible for wrinkles in the forehead and around eyes are temporarily relaxed creating an increase in elasticity and therefore an improvement in facial complexion, fine lines and wrinkles. Botox can be performed for both preventative measures as well as to target already developed wrinkles.
Botox generally lasts around 3-4 months, but can last longer for some (4-6 months). It is also said that receiving multiple treatments increases the longevity of the results.
What are the possible side effects and is there any danger in getting Botox?
Although Botox is considered fairly safe overall and has a very low report of adverse affects, there are both short term and long term effects to note. Short term side effects (affecting 1 in 6 recipients) include temporary bruising, swelling, redness, headaches, nausea, fever and chills. Possible long term side effects include muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, difficulty chewing/swallowing, difficulty breathing, crooked smile, drooping eyelid, uneven eyebrows, dry eyes or excessive tearing.
How much does Botox cost?
Pricing differs depending on where you live, who is doing the work and what procedure you have done. Botox is injected in units and usually is priced at about $10-$13 per unit. For example an average dose for crows feet is 9 units per eye– therefore costing about $200 for both eyes. Kristi Grindlay, a local esthetician, usually pays about $300 per treatment for her forehead furrows.
What are alternatives to Botox?
There are plenty of alternatives to Botox. Acupuncture has been said to help with aging. Jess often shares her approach with at home peels and skincare treatments at a medical spa. Getting facials, staying hydrated, exercise and eating a balanced diet are other ways to take care of your skin. And of course, wearing sunscreen everyday!
I spoke with two women who have differing approaches to “the tox” to better understand the decision to get it or not. We also surveyed the community to get a broader sense of your attitudes towards the procedure.
An esthetician doing botox for the last 10 years
Kristi Grindlay a local esthetician has been getting Botox for 10 years. She was also trained to do Botox while living in Colorado but currently does not perform the procedure. Through her training she learned about Botox in depth. She received her first treatment while in school and has continued regular treatments since. “My forehead looked great,” she said. Kristi said she developed wrinkles early, in her mid twenties and receiving regular Botox has been so beneficial for her skin.
As an esthetician, she has always focused on using good skincare products and has facials regularly, but there is only so much they can do. Kristi understands some people are scared of Botox, but she said it’s really just a protein that allows your muscles to relax. “You don’t have to get so much that your face doesn’t move. I told my doctor, my daughter is going to be 4, my face can’t not move. She needs to know I’m mad, when I’m mad.”
If you are interested in getting Botox, it’s important to get a thorough consultation according to Kristi.
Botox is not for everyone and there are other things to try like retinol and Vitamin C. According to Kristi “once wrinkles set in deep enough, retinol can’t make it go away.” Kristi has had treatments at Dartmouth Dermatology in the past and now goes to Stay Beautiful Med Spa in Mendon, Vermont about every 5 months for treatments. As far as advice for those considering Botox, for Kristi, it’s really all about personal preference.
“Do what makes you feel good. If you think it’s going to make you feel great, do it. If not, don’t.”
Kristi advises trying to find someone through a personal recommendation from a friend or trusted acquaintance. She also suggests using a more clinical place to start if you have any reservations. That way you know there is medical training and backing there. And remember to start small– you can always do more if you so choose.
Aren’t feeling the botox? As an esthetician, Grindlay says the best thing you can do for your skin is develop a good home skincare routine. Even if that means starting small with a great daily moisturizer. Then go from there. You can do all the peels and facials in the world, but if your daily routine is not individualized for your skin, then you will not see the benefits. Retinol, facial treatments, jet peel, hydrafacial, chemical peels, there are so many options out there for every skin type. Find someone knowledgeable that you trust to talk to about your skin and make a plan that suites your needs!
In the end, Grindlay does not regret her choice to do Botox. She thinks it is completely worth it. After going through an incredibly difficult year that caused her to age rapidly, Botox helped Gindlay feel good about herself again.
A Woodstock resident on choosing not to do Botox
Laura recently moved to Woodstock from the city and has found Vermonters to have a refreshing outlook on beauty and appearance. Laura said, “Vermont has honestly been the best thing for me, everyone here is about function over form and it feels good.”
When it comes to Botox, Laura said, “my thoughts about Botox are for myself not for others. I remind myself with most things, it is absolutely okay for me to change my mind at any point. And what’s right for me isn’t what’s right for anyone else.” This is a great perspective for all of us when it comes to our bodies and the choices we make that are unique to us.
In regards to getting Botox Laura said she sometimes feels like, “I deserve this.” As a woman or mother in our modern world there are so many things we go up against each day. Botox could be considered a sort of reward for all of life’s stresses. She went on to say she can see how Botox would be considered “an expression of self-care” but she struggles to get behind this reasoning, is the idea of appearing more relaxed actually relaxing?
As a mother, Laura said, “I’m actively working on achieving body neutrality and modeling that for my daughter.” It is so difficult as a parent knowing our children are watching everything we say and do…Am I participating and furthering unrealistic beauty standards by doing this? I’m not sure, honestly.”
Laura also considers how societal pressures have affected generations before us. “I think a lot about how diet culture impacted our mothers and how our generation has had to work to dismantle that trauma. And I wonder if all of these new skincare and esthetic treatments are just the new “skinny” she said.
A point many of us can relate to, Laura finds social media to be a negative influence on her self image.
“Unsurprisingly, I notice that my social media consumption is a huge motivator. When I spend more time online, I feel a bigger need to improve my appearance. I will spend more time comparing my clothes, my body, my lines to those I see on my timeline- which I know isn’t healthy.”
Another factor? Cost. Laura explained, “I already spend at least twice as much time and money on my clothes, my hair, and my skin than my husband. At a certain point every month I exclaim in frustration “it’s not fair!” And it’s not obviously, but I’m choosing to participate in this particular system of oppression.” So many of us fall victim to this and may even enjoy it. How do we draw the line between what is intrinsically motivated and what is being culturally influenced?
Laura has also seen how these procedures can go wrong. “In high school I worked in a doctors office and he was licensed to administer Botox. He had a patient that suffered from ptosis after receiving too much and I don’t want to be dramatic, but she looked like her face had melted off.” Seeing a result like this firsthand could definitely be a dealbreaker for many.
What are your thoughts about Botox?
We thought it would be interesting to crowdsource some unscientific “data” on feelings around Botox, so we recently surveyed Jess’s IG community to better understand differing perspectives. Of the women that responded, 27% said they’ve had Botox before and 73% said they had not. Of those that have not had it before, 42% are thinking about getting it, 9% are planning to get it and 49% have no plans to get it. We were blown away by how many responses there were and while we can’t include them all, here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
On Choosing To Get Botox
“I get it for a gummy smile a couple times a year. It’s helped and I feel less self conscious.”
“I barely wear any makeup so my skin is important to me. I get a little and it looks very natural.”
“Personal preference to prevent deep wrinkles on a very expressive face.”
“I saw how well it worked for my friends and decided to try it. Love it.”
“It totally eliminates my stress headaches and makes me look like I’ve gotten sleep.”
“To maintain my current lines. I don’t mind having them but I don’t want them to get deeper.”
“Confidence! I have a lazy left eye and it has opened it up. Pictures look better.”
“Prevention of lines that make me look angry.”
“It’s the best treatment for my TMJ.”
“I did it for my crows feet but notice a huge improvement with my migraines as well.”
On Choosing Not To Get Botox
“I don’t see a reason to, there’s nothing wrong with wrinkles.”
“I believe aging is a privilege. No one worries about men and their wrinkles.”
“I worry about side effects and want to embrace aging.”
“I want to age naturally and see wrinkles/look like I’ve lived a life.”
“I don’t want to change my face, it’s the only face I’ve got.”
“I love the way I look as I age, it’s hard earned. And the health aspect of injecting Botox.”
“I like the idea of normalizing aging.”
“I think aging is beautiful and I feel completely content with getting older.”
“I don’t want to reinforce unrealistic beauty standards for my daughter and others. Aging is natural and it’s ok.”
“I want to embrace aging. My wrinkles represent experiences, but I have no judgement towards anyone who gets it.”
“I’m 54 and satisfied with how I’m aging.”
“There’s so many other things I’d rather spend money on.”
To Botox Or Not?
It’s clear that the decision to do Botox is a personal one. Ultimately whether you decide to do it or not, make sure it’s one that you’re doing for you. It’s a temporary procedure so if you don’t like the results they’ll eventually fade. There are so many things we can do to take care of our skin and if getting Botox doesn’t feel right for you, that’s ok too! Wear your sunscreen, develop a good daily skincare regimen and treat yourself to facials if that’s something you enjoy. Whether you choose to do Botox or not, we can all support each other in our skincare choices and celebrate the beautiful women that we are, wrinkles or not!