Preventing Wrinkes? Sign Me Up!
What’s up with preventative Botox?
Botulinum toxin injection (brand names including Botox®, Dysport®, and Xeomin®…I will just say “Botox®” for simplicity!) is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures today – and I like to refer to it as a “gateway drug.”
Botox® relaxes the muscles into which it’s injected, smoothing wrinkles formed from facial expression.
But what about preventing those wrinkles in the first place?
Short of never smiling/frowning/squinting/concentrating, there’s one true way to go – preventative Botox®!
The concept is simple: relax the muscles so certain facial expressions aren’t physically possible (no forehead scrunching or frowning) and a “set-in” wrinkle will never form.
The most common locations for preventative Botox® are the glabella (frown line area between the eyebrows) and the forehead.
Can people look weird if their facial expressions are limited? Well, yes, but not usually if the Botox® is injected properly.
For my patients I have no problem fully relaxing the glabellar area (not so noticeable when someone can’t frown), but I tend to take it easy in the forehead. Not being able to raise one’s eyebrows at all = the “plastic” look everyone dreads.
There was a study published in Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery which illustrated the concept of preventative Botox® well. It was done on sets of twins, where one twin received preventative Botox® injections regularly starting at a young age, the other twin did not. The images speak for themselves, no-Botox® twin on the left and Botox® twin on the right.
Now, before you get too excited. There is another school of thought in the Botox® community that preventative injections can eventually result in atrophy of the muscles, or muscle loss, and, unfortunately, a prematurely aged appearance. While atrophy is possible with long-term use of Botox®, as muscles are gradually trained not to move in certain ways, the idea that it will actually cause worse cosmetic results has not been shown.
Personally, I got my first Botox® injection as a dermatology resident, at age 29.
I wanted to stave off the onset of those worry lines. And today, 5 years later, despite the stresses of medical school and residency, I’m still pretty much wrinkle free!