I have a confession to make. I get botox. Which will probably surprise most people who know me someone who rarely wears makeup and has a fear of needles. It all started a couple of years ago, as I was nearing The Big 40, when I was gently encouraged to try ‘baby botox’ by my dermatologist. Now I’m addicted and need a fix about every six months or so.
The reason for my newfound botox habit? Nothing comes anywhere near being a more an effective treatment for ageing lines, than a smattering of neurotoxin jabs. I mean, why buy into all this ‘botox in a bottle’ hype when you can have the real McCoy? Botox smoothes grooves, lifts and corrects like nothing else.
I’m reluctantly coming out of the botox closet, as humbly brushing off compliments about how “well” I look for my age is doing the talent that helps keep me that way a disservice. And more importantly – I feel duty bound to advise anyone thinking about trying an injectable treatment to seek out a medical professional with the relevant experience.
Background in Botox
Botox® is the brand name given to botulinum toxin (aka botox) by Allergan. The safety of botulinum toxin has been proven over 30 years of medical use and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approval for it to be used as a cosmetic for the temporary improvement of frown lines 15 years ago. One of the biggest breakthroughs for anti-ageing ever, it’s now the most popular cosmetic treatment in the UK, with forecasts for the global botox market set to reach a whopping 1.72 billion pounds by next year.
How it works
As we age the muscles in our face start to contract and this process forms wrinkles. Botulinum toxin blocks the release of the neurotransmitter that causes this contraction, so the injected muscle relaxes, which in turn softens lines and wrinkles. Botulinum toxin can also be used to lift drooping brows, heavy lids and even the corners of the mouth. It can take as little as fifteen minutes to administer, and on average patients can start to see the effects of the procedure within three days to two weeks.
I start feeling a kind of creeping paralysis after a week. The strange sensation is worth it for the instantly smoothed complexion, which lasts up to six months. By treating the muscles over time, lines and wrinkles will appear less severe because the muscles are being trained to relax. It can also be considered a preventative measure and the best time to start is when you first spot lines while your face is relaxed. For me, that was at 40, but 35 is the average age of female clientele for botox in the UK.
Finding a practitioner
The UK is the only country in the world where someone who is not a qualified doctor, can be trained to legally inject botox. And with young girls finding ‘practitioners’ via Instagram, there are some shocking stories about shared needles and botch jobs. This said, in expert hands, this treatment is an art form, creating a subtle and natural looking improvement, with the continued ability to frown and raise one’s eyebrows.
As a general rule of thumb, use this checklist:
- Be wary of the term ‘cosmetic specialist’, this can apply to a dentist or nurse.
- Run a background check on a doctor’s credentials. Some of the biggest “stars” of Harley Street for don’t have doctorates that include training in the complex anatomical workings of the face.
- It’s illegal to advertise botox – so avoid any practitioners who do so.
We’re talking about changing how your face will move here, so invest in seeing a skilled doctor with the relevant experience. My preference is a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, who by virtue of their long period of training, will have received intensive study in the complex layers of blood vessels, arteries and nerves underneath the skin surface. Also note this is not a risk-free procedure even in skilled hands. So ensure your practitioner would know exactly what to do, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong.
I’d also recommend choosing someone more focused on treating their patients than self-promotion, and discreet enough not to name drop celebrity clientele.
Below are some trusted names to know:
Dr Haus for Baby Botox
Dr Ariel Haus is the only Brazilian dermatologist with a clinic on Harley Street. After qualifying as a doctor in Rio de Janeiro over 15 years ago, Dr Haus has completed further post-graduate study in the fields of dermatology, aesthetic medicine and anti-ageing medicine. Registered as a medical practitioner in Brazil and the UK, in addition to his private clinics, Dr Haus also works for the NHS treating patients with psoriasis and skin cancer.
‘Baby Botox’ with Dr Haus was my gateway into the world of injectables. After allowing the numbing cream to take effect, Dr Haus administers a light sprinkling of tiny injections around my forehead and eyes, while I am given stress balls to squeeze in case of pain (which I rarely do). The result is smoothed, rather than eradicated, lines. A perkier appearance without the restriction of movement. I still look like me, just a little fresher, and people can’t seem work out why. Guess I’ve now blown my cover though.
Dr. Ariel Haus has a clinic at on Harley St, London, and another in Rio de Janeiro.
Mr Golchin for Emotional Botox
Mr Kambiz Golchin is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and part of the General Medical Council UK and the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery. Trained as an otolaryngology surgeon (ear, nose, and throat along with head & neck) and practising as a facial plastic surgeon for 12 years, it’s safe to say you’re in safe hands with Mr Golchin. And he is as skilled with a needle as he is with a knife, being one of the most highly respected UK trainers for Allergan.
There’s said to be a link between botox and how the brain processes negative emotion and the theory is if you can’t create the motion, you can’t create the emotion. So your brain is tricked into being happier. Before my ‘Emotional Botox’ with Mr Golchin, I explain I’d noticed in photos that my resting face sometimes looks a little sad, with subtly downturned corners of my mouth. As my face is scrutinised, I’m asked to smile as Mr Golchin used a protractor and oil pencil to precisely identify areas to treat in order to enhance my positive expression and create more symmetry. Mr Golchin explains that he uses botox to balance the muscles that pull down with age, reducing forehead furrows and rectifying downturned mouths – without eliminating expression. A week later the results are in – with a more neutral resting face and authentic smile unimpaired, I’m one happy customer.
Mr Kambiz Golchin founded Beacon Face & Dermatology Clinic in Dublin and has a practice at The Rita Rakus Clinic in Knightsbridge. The Emotional Botox package includes a follow-up appointment 2 weeks later to assess and make any adjustments where necessary.
Dr Nabet and his Botox Pen
Dr Jules Nabet is a French cosmetic doctor, considered by those in the know as one of the original and top Botox practitioners. A member of the General Medical Council, with over 25 years experience in his specialised field of aesthetics, Dr Jules Nabet is also credited with pioneering the ‘Botox Pen’. This motorised syringe holder drives a minutely precise amount of the toxin into the skin, to ensure a smooth and highly targeted delivery. With none of the pressure of a needle, there’s said to be 50 per cent less pain than normal cosmetic injections.
Dr Nabet tells me: “As each face is unique, results vary from person to person depending on how strong their facial muscles are and the particular issues they are trying to correct. On average, I usually inject from eight to ten pricks high on the forehead and then around 1cm away from the eyes to open them up. I also have clients than that come for me so I can help relieve tension headaches and migraines with my Botox treatments.” The latter including his daughter who he has been injecting since she was 18 to treat her migraines. A true indication of his trust in this product if ever I’ve heard one.
Dr Jules Nabet has a practice in Paris, Moscow and London where he is the Medical Director at Omnyia Mediclinic Knightsbridge.