When my friend asked me to accompany her on her first ever Botox session, inquisition took over and I eagerly agreed. I have always been curious about the concept of Anti-ageing. I say concept, because of course, there is no ‘magic cream’ answer! If there was a cream to fade away our wrinkles, surely we wouldn’t be subjecting ourselves to more invasive procedures. The truth is, the ageing process is both inevitable and unpreventable. You can smother yourself in the most expensive anti-wrinkle cream on earth, but you may as well take your money, douse it in petrol and set fire to it. You could spend a small fortune on Botox injections, and yes, this will ease the appearance of your wrinkles, but it certainly won’t erase their existence.
What’s most shocking about this story, is the fact my friend is only in her mid-twenties… Wait! That’s not the shocking part! The most shocking part is the fact this has become something of the normality. Women as young as 16 (No I didn’t make a typo, I said SIXTEEN!) now feel the need to turn to such measures in order to achieve this unattainable notion we call ‘perfection’.
Let’s go back in time…
Originally identified as a toxin from Clostridium botulinum bacteria, Botox was first used in 1977 to treat strabismus, a problem with the eye muscles. It wasn’t used cosmetically until 1996 and it was later approved by the FDA in 2002. Since then, Botox has become a big hit, not only with the high profilers and celebrities but also by regular everyday people. Why is it so popular? Botox is more affordable and less invasive than other cosmetic procedures. It’s a quick fix. You can walk in and out in twenty minutes with little to none recovery time.
So, back to my story…
As we walked towards the salon. Yes, I said salon! I was feeling more nervous than my cool-as-a-cucumber friend. This place was all mirrors and no place to hide. Sadly, the barbercide wasn’t cutting it and I caught a glimpse of my every imperfection. Imperfections which hadn’t really bothered me at all, until I set foot in such an establishment. To some, beauty parlours and hair salons are like a 2nd home. However, I have always felt uncomfortable being poked, prodded and played around with. Just the thought of having a procedure such as Botox sends me into a slight meltdown. My friend, on the other hand, was confident this was what she wanted. She’s a smart girl, she had done her research and this is how we found Dr Botox.
Just kidding, he was a really nice guy!
Things to consider…
Before you ditch that wrinkle cream and go running to your local beauty salon, STOP! Botox comes with risks. More and more people are jumping onboard the Botox bandwagon. Once upon a time, only qualified plastic surgeons or doctors would be in charge of the needles, but now we have every Tom, Dick and Cynthia claiming they are qualified to administrate Botox. It is becoming more common to see beauty therapists administrating Botox, too. There are even courses to accommodate this, but this hasn’t come without criticism over whether or not beauty therapist’s should be allowed to inject Botox.
Perhaps Beatrice the beautician is the most skilled botox injector of all time, but unless you want droopy eyelids, I suggest you choose a board-certified and experienced doctor (Ideally one who specializes in facial anatomy and has been successfully administering Botox for several years already.)
Rather than settling for the first doctor you see, shop around a bit, see more than one Botox consultation. The consultation will be just as important as the Botox treatment itself, as this will inform you about which treatments will be most effective for you. It is also important to be honest with your doctor, regarding your health and any allergies you might have.
The treatment room
The treatment room was small and clinical. There was a grey reclining chair, splat bang in the middle, waiting to be filled. We made chit chat with the very friendly Dr Botox, who was a self-confessed fan of Botox himself. I wasn’t sure whether this was reassuring or not, as I caught sight of his slightly flapping eyelid, and this little fella popped into my mind…
I watched doctor and client make typical exchanges about kids, schools and….erm….politics. After introductions and a few strictly confidential selfies, Dr Botox talked my friend through the procedure she was about to undergo. Although the information he provided was in-depth, I got the impression he sugar-coated and even normalised certain aspects. As my friend read the terms and conditions (something people generally only skim-read, or disregard completely!) she raised a few concerns regarding its ingredients. Sensing hesitance in my friend’s voice, Mr Botox quickly bombarded her with phrases such as ‘It’s pure’, ‘It’s concentrated’, ‘It’s completely safe’ and cue the white tooth you-can-trust-me-completely sparkle.
What is in Botox?
Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It’s the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism.
Hmm…Yep, really reassuring!
While I watched through fingers, the doctor injected the Botox with a fine needle into my friend’s forehead. There was very little discomfort (not even a tear!) and only a few beads of blood to show for it. The blood was wiped and all that was left was a slight redness. There were no dramatic results, in fact, Botox generally takes three to seven days to take full effect.
And she was out in two squirts of a doctor’s needle. Like a check-up at the dentist, she handed over the slightly hefty bill and was left to enjoy the rest of her day. The doctor gave her strict instructions to frown like she had never frowned before. As we continued to shop, she wore a perma-frown and got some pretty interesting looks along the way.
Note: Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications should be stopped two weeks before treatment as well in order to reduce bruising.
So, there we go! My day trip to the Botox Clinic…
As I reflect back on the experience, I can’t help but question; should such treatments be so readily available to everyone? Do teenagers really need Botox? Of course not! Teenagers don’t have wrinkles. Is it necessary for people in their twenties to have Botox? Although it is extremely young, is there any wonder why we are so desperate to stay young? If our celebrity heroes are altering themselves beyond recognition, then why can’t we do the same?
Unrealistic expectations of beauty are shoved in our faces on a daily basis. These air-brushed beauties with their flawless skin and perfect figures are absorbed into our psyche, mind-washing us into thinking we ‘must look this way’. Often, the images we inspire to, are not as authentic as we may assume. The majority of pictures we see, in the glossy magazines we buy, have been unnaturally enhanced and airbrushed with the assistance of Photoshop. What kind of message is this sending to an already looks-obsessed society? It’s hardly surprising why people are resulting in such drastic measures to prolong their youthfulness.
Cosmetic procedures such as Botox are becoming a normality amongst us none-celebrities. The media constantly bombard us with images of the surgically-enhanced, and supposedly, perfect bodied. We have grown accustomed to the bee-stung faces that dominate our TV screens. So much so, 16-year-olds, without a wrinkle in sight, are now getting Botox. I have to question…
where do we draw the line?
What starts off as a small poke and a prick, might spiral into a nip and tuck. Before you know it, you’ll be lying in the operating theatre, ready to undergo some dramatic transformation. You see, once you climb into this fountain of youth, it’s difficult to get out. It can become obsessive, an uncontrollable addiction. We’ve all seen the devastating results of plastic surgery gone wrong, it’s plastered over the media and worn on the faces of our celebrities. Once you have crossed the line and suddenly realise you want to grow old in a more graceful way, it’s too late – you’re stuck with the face of a bee-stung dog, and there’s no going back!
Or worst still…
Before you have your first Botox injection, it’s important to remember that this isn’t just a quick fix. Botox will need topping up (Every 3-6 months) not only is this expensive (Prices of Botox vary from £100 – 350) but you will have to consider whether this is something you will want to continue for the rest of your life. Sure enough, the more Botox you have, generally, the less you will need. However, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before you undergo the treatment.
On the other hand, as I watch the confidence of my friend triple (and this is before the results have even shown!) It becomes very clear what a positive impact this will have on her life. Whilst some people embrace the prospect of growing old, others are frightened by the ageing process. Every new wrinkle is a reminder of how they aren’t getting any younger. It’s difficult to let go of our youth. It’s clear to see why people are holding onto something they find so important, using everything they can to claw back those younger years – Whether this is a small poke in the forehead, or stripping themselves bare and jumping into that fountain of youth!
Like it or not, Botox is another aspect of what is becoming normality in this looks-obsessed world. We are becoming more acclimatised to seeing people in their early twenties, and even younger, getting botox and more invasive cosmetic treatments. On sitcoms such as Keeping up with the Kardashians and The Only Way is Essex, we see them walking in and out of the Botox clinic like it’s a check-up at the dentist. The shocking truth is, these reality TV shows mirror what is happening in the ‘real’ world as more and more people climb onboard that Botox bandwagon.
We are doing all we can to claw back our yesteryear. However, no matter how much we rub that miracle cream into our facial creases, the clock can’t turn back its hands of time. It’s inevitable, Botox or no Botox, we are all growing old. Some people choose to grow old gracefully, others opt for cosmetic help. The question is; do you jump onboard, or swim against the flow?
Ultimately, the choice is yours to make…
Would I consider having Botox?
For now, I’m shying away from those scary needles. I don’t think I’m ready to become a part of this Botox crazy world …Ask me in 10 years’ time, my answer might have changed…
As clichéd as this sounds, it’s good to remember true beauty is only skin deep.