Botox treatments (and the like) were the most popular cosmetic procedure performed in 2018. But that’s been a recurring headline for the last few years. The nearly 7.5 million treatments represented a 3% jump over 2017 and an astounding 845% increase since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Plastic surgery has become far less stigmatized over that span, and minimally-invasive procedures, like Botox injections, have grown the most dramatically as a result of the accessibility and interest that followed. Today, Botox is not only an effective means to minimize the early signs of aging, it’s also become popular as a preventative measure.
When should I start Botox treatments? It’s not unusual for a plastic surgeon to suggest the mid-twenties. We develop wrinkles because, as skin loses its elasticity with age, it can’t effectively bounce back from the countless facial expressions we make every day. Botox relaxes the facial muscles and prevents them from constricting and wrinkling the overlying skin.
Say you furrow your brow when you read from a screen. We’re essentially retraining your face to no longer do that and, in turn, lowering the chances that you’ll develop those dreaded wrinkles between your eyebrows. So, the earlier you begin getting Botox, the better, in most cases.
But I prefer to gauge a starting point by need rather than age because there are a couple more pressing factors that need to be considered, including the amount of sun you’ve been exposed to over your lifetime and your skin tone.
Caucasian women who’ve protected themselves fairly well can usually hold off until 35 or 40. For women with darker skin tones, it’s more like 40 or 45.
The benefit of a little wiggle room
The next natural question is, how far apart should you space your follow-up botox treatments?
The effects of Botox generally begin to wear off after three or four months, but that can vary from person to person. And, ideally, you don’t want to wait until the effects have completely worn off, around six months. What that really means is that the targeted muscle has regained its strength.
You’ll have a better long-term result if you schedule your follow-ups before you reach that point, because Botox has a cumulative effect. With each round of injections, the targeted muscle becomes progressively weaker and eventually atrophies. As that happens, it’ll also allow you to space your treatments a little further apart each time.
Consistency is what matters most
Another reason not to set your Google calendar reminder for three-month intervals is that there are a few other variables at play, too. For one, if you’re very physically active, you may need to schedule your follow-ups a bit sooner.
Also, some muscles, like the one behind those dueling wrinkles between your eyebrows, are stronger than others. So they’re going to require more frequent treatments. So, too, will wrinkles that are relatively fully formed.
Whatever schedule you settle on with your plastic surgeon, commit to it. Much as you may like the initial results of a Botox treatment, they’ll get even better over time—as long as you remain attentive to your follow-ups.