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A Beginner's Guide to Botox: My Personal Experience

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Here are a few things I learned along the way on my Botox journey.

Here are a few things I learned along the way on my Botox journey.

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

Are you considering a neurotoxin, such as Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin for the first time and wondering exactly how you should move forward? Maybe after reading this article, you will discover that this popular beauty treatment isn’t for you and resume your normal beauty routine with renewed confidence.

Perhaps your curiosity wins, and you find that it is at least worth the experience.

Either way, deciding to undergo a professional aesthetic procedure is a very personal choice with unique risks and benefits.

Either way, you are beautiful!

Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are all neurotoxins derived from the same bacteria that causes botulism (Clostridium botulinum). In larger amounts, it can kill you, but the minute amounts used for cosmetic purposes serve to smooth wrinkles by paralyzing particular facial muscles. When these muscles are paralyzed, they can no longer make the movements that crease your skin.

It’s that simple.

If you are considering this treatment, there are some significant things to keep in mind. I want to share them with you because they are things I learned along the way that no one told me about, and I wish they had. Although I did my research, I had questions I didn’t even know to ask until, of course, it was too late.

Why Botox?

Five years ago, I only knew about one neurotoxin, and that was Botox, so I tried that one first.

It all started when my sister showed up with a new forehead minus the incorrigible 11's that she swore made her look angry when she wasn't.

You let someone put poison in your face? I asked, to which she replied, I sure did.

My beautiful sister reasoned that it was worth putting a harmless amount of poison in her face rather than presenting an angry expression to the world, and most importantly, herself.

She was thrilled to pieces with her smooth forehead, elevated eyebrows, and pore-less skin.

It made her look and feel happier.

I had to admit, it did look nice, and I was a tad jealous.

Why was I bathing in dumb coconut oil for the past five years when a few tiny poisonous darts would erase all evidence of stress in less than 10-minutes?

Why Botox? That's precisely why.

Lucky me, a gallon of coconut oil later, an affordable (because it's not cheap) Botox opportunity presented itself. In May of 2105, three months before I turned 45, my virgin forehead waltzed right into a snazzy med spa where a happily frozen-faced, wide-eyed, pouty-lipped, stiff-haired dart thrower awaited our arrival.

Please, God don't let me look like that, I prayed.

These are the chances we take when we put our faces in someone else's hands!

By then, I felt that I had learned enough about the effects of Botox to convince myself that I was making an informed decision (I wasn't), even if it was slightly on a whim (totally on a whim).

Quite honestly, I had visions of my sister's un-furrowed, angelic forehead glistening in my dreams which sadly, trumped any informed decision I could have made. After all, my sister was still alive so it couldn't be that bad.

Admittedly though, I was a little scared. What if I went blind? What if it was so obvious that people would point and whisper, "that one, she's had something done"? What if I had a seizure, blacked out, developed an autoimmune disorder, or my eyebrows shot up like frozen arrows forever?

What if I didn't make it out alive?

This is why we do our research.

Fortunately, none of those things happened on my first visit. After giving myself a panic attack, I walked out of the clinic sweating bullets.

What just happened in there? I asked myself.

It was all a blur.

I spent the next two weeks with a hand mirror glued to my face, monitoring every newly frozen movement waiting for my eyes to freeze in the open position forever or to slip suddenly into a coma.

A bit paranoid (a.k.a. hypochondriac), I might add. I have been that way since I was a child giving myself all kinds of strange things.

But nothing happened.

Research? Why Bother?

Do your research—just do it.

There are millions of Botox testimonials on the internet, and you really can find almost everything you could ever hope to know about this procedure, except, of course, that one particular thing you will only learn about when it happens to you.

Consider the Risks

The most common risks associated with neurotoxins aren’t what you might expect. Although allergic reactions and many other side-effects are possible (some quite serious), the most common risks involve unsatisfactory results.

More on that later.

The Consultation

Consultations are important.

During your consultation, you should be prepared with all the questions you can possibly think of to ask.

Some of those questions might be:

  • What are the risks?

Outside of allergic reactions and other physical complications, neurotoxins have the power to literally drop your forehead, make your eyebrows look like they are either flying off your face or melting into your eyes (both of which have happened to me), paralyze muscles you wish weren’t paralyzed (didn't even know existed), exacerbate baggy under eyes, and (it gets better), drop your upper lip over your front teeth right before you have a wedding to attend.

In fact, all of these ugly little things have happened to me, and I haven’t been doing it that long.

  • Before and After Portfolio of REAL people

Some clinics may not provide these, but it’s nice when they do. It doesn't hurt to ask if your injector has a portfolio to view real outcomes and not on a 23-year old airbrushed Botox *model*.

  • Do you, the injector, have Botox yourself?

I honestly wouldn’t trust anyone to inject me with Botox if they haven't had injections themselves.

  • When will it take effect, and when will it wear off?

This varies. I usually notice an onset within two days (which is early) and final results within a week. But two weeks is necessary for optimum results. If your injector is worth their expertise at the two-week mark, you will be invited back for a complimentary follow-up and balancing touch-ups if required.

Botox wears off differently for everyone. I usually start to notice it wearing off at the three-month mark but sometimes later.

  • What can a neurotoxin do, and what can it not do?

In my experience, Botox prevented the angry lines between my eyebrows (glabella muscles) from squishing together; it created a nice arch to my eyebrows, smoothed crow’s feet, slightly lifted corners of my mouth, and smoothed forehead lines. One of my biggest thrills was how it decreased eyebrow movement. I know some people like to move their eyebrows around, but mine are out of control. I literally have no control over what my face does—every emotion shows. And sometimes that looks like I’m angry or disappointed. Well, maybe I am, but I don’t want it to show so honestly. There are many other uses, but these are my own areas of concern. Unfortunately, neurotoxins can make you look awful if it isn’t done right. And that has happened to me too.

Another important thing is to find out ahead of time if the injector offers touch-ups at no cost if inconsistencies appear at the two-week mark. I really find this important because these treatments aren’t cheap, unless you go to Mexico, which I also did. There is nothing more frustrating than going back at two weeks with one side of your forehead crinkling and the other side smooth and being charged a couple of hundred dollars extra to even that mess out. This had only happened to me when I tried Dysport, and I won’t return to this injector again. Every other injector was happy to do complimentary touch-ups.

Depending on how many units or areas that need to be treated and how often, maintenance can get expensive. So be prepared for the financial upkeep of a smooth face.

Is it worth it? Only you can make that decision.

I personally think it is for me. And the reasons for that are because it works for me, it makes my beauty routine easier (I honestly don't like to spend a lot of time trying to conceal flaws that can disappear with a small injection-I'm lazy that way), I feel happier when I see myself, and that increases my confidence and makes me nicer.

Be prepared for the financial upkeep of your smooth face.

If you enjoy the benefits of your treatment, you will notice when it starts to wear off. Other people will notice too because you will be sad about it and that will show on your face, in fact, everything will show on your face once again. The Nurse who gave me my first injections summed my thoughts up nicely; she said no one needs aesthetic enhancements, but it sure makes you feel happier and act nicer to people. And I personally see no reason to love the results and not get more. I am pro simplifying my beauty routine and maintaining results. But it’s not cheap. I do not have the kind of money that makes it easy for me to throw at my face in vanity, so it does sting a little. However, I think of all the pointless things I sometimes spend money on and try not to spend that money. I also don’t have many bad habits, nor do I go out a lot or buy new clothes. So, I make some sacrifices.

If you make a budget to include cosmetic treats, you should be fine even if you’re on the poorer side of the spectrum, like me. I skimp on many things when I need to, like clothes (second-hand shops), hair care (cheap haircuts or DIY trims and box color), and nights out, but I don’t skimp when it comes to my skin. Good skin can make anything else look good. But then again, I seriously would go around barefoot in a toga every day if I could.

If possible, try and find a competent, professional, and good injector you trust and stick with them.

I didn’t do this. I moved away from my place near Mexico, so I could no longer visit my favorite dermatologist, who would have been a "keeper." I did find someone in my new area, which I liked enough, and as fancy as the area was, you would think there would be more options, but there just weren’t. Note: I am NOT fancy. I just ended up living in a place I couldn’t afford out of desperation. I feel that’s important to note here because I am just a working girl with limited funds and need to choose my poisons (ha!) wisely. With that being said, it really is important to find someone who does a great (not ok) job, and with whom you can build a relationship if you plan on having more done. This person will learn what you like and what makes you look your best and hopefully work within your budget. Hopefully, I really think they are few and far between, though. I liked this person in my new fancy place; for the most part, she did ok, and sometimes she did really good, but I can’t forgive her for making my upper lip droop over my upper teeth before my brother-in-law’s wedding. Although she told me, "I think you will enjoy these results," she was wrong. I avoided smiling as big as I normally would, and my new driver's license picture looks like my lips had a stroke.

If you don’t feel a good connection with your injector, move on because it might get worse, and they are human too, so they might not even like you, which unfortunately may show up on your face.

Do not be afraid to speak up.

Speak up if you aren’t sure you will like something. I recently let someone inject bunny lines I didn’t know I had, and I can’t tell anything different. Also, I think some injectors are overzealous and will inject everything and anything even if you don’t really *need* it, leaving a person with an empty bizarre look. This happened to my sister. I came into a little extra money and gave her Botox for her birthday, and she said the injector suggested extra areas which froze her face for months.

You might think it’s a nice idea to have a frozen face; that’s exactly what I think about my eyebrows, but there is this strange, walking dead look that happens when there is no movement in a face! So speak up or leave if you have to!

Also, speak up if you don’t like your results. Some improvement might be possible. But beware of the injector who fails to admit a wrong or doesn’t try to make you happy. Do not go back. You are paying for excellent results, which will be on your face front and center for months. Most of the time, I think someone will work with you to try and make you happy, but again, this happened to me, and the injector couldn’t see anything wrong with one eyebrow flat and half of my face moving more than the other half. And she charged me to even it out. I don't think that's right.

The best results I’ve experienced were from practitioners who were skilled, personable, and professional and looked natural and healthy. If your injector sports a "frozen" look with an "over-processed face" (you will know when you see it), think twice about what that might mean for you.

Neurotoxin injections can be a great way to improve what mother nature gave you and simplify your beauty routine, but you want quality work every time; otherwise, it’s a huge waste of money and time and enormous emotional stress. I’m a perfectionist, and I notice everything that is out of place. I am not going to be happy with poor work, and neither should you.

Knowledge is beautiful! Research and learn as you possibly can before making decisions that will literally change the way you see yourself in the mirror. Always remain true to yourself in beauty and spirit. Know that either way, beauty always comes from within!

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2017 Cat Radke


Cat Radke (author) from Puerto Rico on April 01, 2020:

Wow! Thank you for painting such a creatively vivid picture of the benefits of Botox! Crow's feet ARE silly! I am particularly interested in these "*sanctuary* lines in grown-ups", you speak of!

Cat Radke (author) from Puerto Rico on July 07, 2017:

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and commenting, Louise! Botox (and others like it) definitely plays an important role in the beauty lives of others, but indeed does not appeal to everyone. It didn't appeal to me either until I actually tried it. I like to look as natural as possible so I went pretty conservative. In my mid 40's it makes my beauty routine easier. I also don't like to spend a lot of time *working on my face* in the mornings and it definitely helps in that department. It can be easy to over do though and it's just not for everyone. You're beautiful by the way!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 07, 2017:

Interesting article. Botox isn't something that's really appealed to me, but from what I've seen on TV it seems to work wonders.