In 2022, aging is no longer a dirty word. Skincare brands are tweaking their packaging to reflect that getting older is nothing to worry about, and more of us are questioning the effects of trends like face tape and ‘jelly skin’ on our self-esteem. But as we embrace the aging process a little more, we’re also looking for subtle ways to rejuvenate the skin.
Experts agree. Dr. Harris is an award-winning aesthetic physician known for his outspoken approach to cosmetic treatments on instagram. A champion of natural-looking results amid what he calls an “alienation” epidemic, Dr. Harris notes that Botox is on the rise. “All cosmetic procedures involving injectables are on the rise in my clinic,” he tells R29, but there is one popular injectable treatment that he’s not sold on. In fact, it could be a complete waste of time.
Enter: Preventative Botox.
Using Botox before wrinkles appear doesn’t make much sense. There is no convincing scientific evidence that preventative Botox works.
What is preventive Botox?
Botox or anti-wrinkle injections relax or paralyze facial muscles. This makes the fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet that lie above those muscles less noticeable. But do these injections work as a preventive measure? Dr. Harris thinks not.
“Preventive Botox exists as a concept,” says Dr. Harris, and it’s offered at various aesthetic clinics across the country. “The idea is that if you can’t move the muscles in your face, the lines above them won’t form.” In other words, the injections are supposed to ward off wrinkles longer. But Dr. Harris says there’s no convincing scientific evidence that preventative Botox works.
“People now start Botox in their early twenties,” says Dr. Harris, “but for most people, visible wrinkles tend to show up in their thirties and maybe even their forties.” Simply put, it’s pointless to start doing Botox unless there are visible lines to treat. “Botox is a medicine and it should be considered like any other medicine,” says Dr. Harris. He adds: “You don’t want to take it if it’s not necessary, because there are side effects.”
Does preventative Botox really work?
“In my opinion, using Botox before wrinkles appear doesn’t make much sense,” says Dr. Harris. He continues that there are no definitive studies that show Botox can prevent wrinkles from forming. On the contrary, it can minimize them once they are already there. “Even if the muscle itself becomes disaffected [thanks to regular injections over time]it would soon be back in function,” says Dr. Harris.
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Are wrinkle preventative injections just a money-making scheme, then? “Potentially, yes,” says Dr. Harris, “because people are selling preventative Botox.” Sure enough, a quick internet search for ‘preventive Botox’ in the UK generates thousands of results, directing people to clinics that offer the treatment for hundreds of dollars at a time.
Who is Botox suitable for?
So we have established that preventative Botox is a waste of time and money. But using Botox to treat existing wrinkles does work.
A good potential candidate for Botox is someone who wants to treat their visible wrinkles, says Dr. Harris. “In some cases the lines may appear in their late twenties, but usually it would be someone in their thirties or forties with visible lines who wants to treat them.”
Dr. Harris is notorious for turning people down — especially young people — for anti-wrinkle injections. “A lot of people are determined to get [preventative Botox] although I point out to them that there is no convincing evidence that Botox works preventively. People often go elsewhere for treatment, but Dr Harris says that may not be the best idea. “I know it happens, especially with fillers. When I don’t treat someone they will go somewhere else and often come back with sloppy lips for me to dissolve. When it comes to wrinkle injections, it’s not uncommon for practitioners to go overboard and give clients a staring stare.
“My preference is for a more natural look,” says Dr. Harris, who tends not to use high doses of injectables, whether Botox or fillers. “The doses I use are usually very conservative because more people want natural results. If anyone comes to me and wants to look overdone in some way, I’ll have a chat with them. and try to educate him. But I certainly wouldn’t treat them.
Botox is a drug and should be treated like any other drug. You don’t want to take it if it’s not necessary, because there are side effects.
What are the best alternatives to preventative Botox?
Most estheticians consider Botox injections the gold standard for minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. But there are a handful of other less invasive treatments that experts recommend for improving skin texture. A caveat: you don’t need us to tell you that fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable and completely normal. But we understand that for some people they can be a point of insecurity. As R29 is a judgment-free zone, we prefer to arm you with the knowledge you need to make a safe and informed decision.
The first standing chemical peels. Skin cell turnover slows with age, said Nicola Liberos, aesthetic nurse at Omniya Clinic and member of the UK Dermatology Nursing Group. “Medical-grade chemical peels help remove old skin cells and stimulate the growth of new skin cells and collagen,” she explained. Chemical peels help improve skin tone, texture and hydration levels, and leave skin glowing and younger looking.
Chemical peels vary across the board in terms of the ingredients used (for example, you can opt for a glycolic acid, Lactic acid Where retinol peel according to your preference). The concentration also differs. Higher concentrations can penetrate deep into the skin (although there may be more side effects, such as increased skin loss), while lower concentrations tend to be a little milder. The strength may depend on what you are trying to treat, such as fine lines or deeper wrinkles, which is why it is beneficial to have a discussion with a qualified practitioner beforehand.
Another treatment that aesthetic doctors and facialists are championing Morpheus8, which combines microneedling and radiofrequency. It firms the skin and stimulates collagen, while helping to lift and tighten loose skin. As a result, it is known to target fine lines and wrinkles. But it can be expensive, with one-time treatments in the hundreds. Again, a consultation is essential to ensure that you are the right candidate for treatment.
Microneedling is also available as a stand-alone treatment in the clinic, but it should not be tried at home. “Microneedling is a treatment to improve the smoothness and firmness of the skin,” said a consultant dermatologist. Doctor Anjali Mahto. “It provides benefits for various skin concerns, including wrinkles, fine lines, and acne scars.” Dr Mahto explained that tiny sterile needles are used to make micro-punctures in the skin. “It stimulates [the skin] to produce new collagen – an important structural protein. It is essential to book a consultation with a qualified practitioner to understand the benefits versus the risks.
These non-surgical alternative cosmetic treatments may be a better option than Botox for younger patients, Nicola said. When performed by a trained expert, she believes they can provide “preventive” improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, skin texture and discoloration – without starting Botox too soon.
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