So let’s talk about Botox.
First up, let’s all just get clear as to what Botox is and what it does. For one, it’s not ‘snake venom’. That’s a bunch of kak. It’s actually derived from a naturally occurring bacteria and has been successfully treating expression lines for more than 20 years. Expression lines are those caused by repetitive facial movements like squinting or frowning. The reason why these lines only show up later on, as opposed to when you’re younger, is because as your body’s collagen levels diminish with age, your skin loses its elasticity and thins out so it doesn’t ‘bounce back’ like it used to.
How Botox works, in serious lay man’s terms, is by dissolving the little tentacle-thingies that hang off your nerves, acting as a telephone wire to communicate with your muscle. Without those ‘messengers’, your muscle simple doesn’t ‘hear’ the nerve telling it what to do so it kind of just takes a bit of a nap. Eventually, over a period of three to four months, those nerves grow back and your muscles starts doing the funky chicken once more. This is why Botox isn’t permanent.
Generally, Botox is used to treat the upper half of your face; think crow’s feet and frown lines. Wrinkles in the lower half can be treated with fillers like Juvederm which plump up your skin to hide the wrinkle but still allow for movement. Back in the day fillers used to contains collagen but now they’ve evolved to make use of hyaluronic acid, a water-binding substance that occurs naturally in your bod. While hyaluronic acid is rife in just about every moisturiser on the shelf but obviously it doesn’t penetrate and remain in your skin the way it does when it’s injected.
All clear? ‘Cos all too often I have conversations that run like this.
Jane Doe: Oooh, you’re a beauty writer? Errrmigod! What, in your opinion, is the one cream I have to buy to blitz these wrinkles around my eyes?
Me: None. Most eye creams are unnecessary in that whatever anti-aging serum you’re using on your face can be used around your eyes. Even retinol, which in almost every dermatologist’s opinion is still the single best wrinkle-busting ingredient on the shelf. Use a serum containing that and then spend the balance of your cash on Botox.
Jane: Ooooh nooo. I’d never put anything unnatural into my face.
Me: Botox is a naturally occurring substance.
Jane: Oh God, no. I only use natural natural things. They’re sooo much better for you.
Me: Arsenic is natural. So is poison ivy. It’s also ‘natural’ to die of a blood clot as opposed to treat it with synthetically derived drugs like Warfarin. Bet you’d like that one if you needed it.
Jane: But what if I look ‘frozen’ like Nicole Kidman back in the day? Ermiiiigodddd!
Me: If you go to a good doc it’s not likely. The best ‘work’ is all around you every day but you don’t see it. The only aesthetic procedures you ever notice are the bad ones.
Jane: Hmmm. I don’t know. Would you do it?
Me: Honeylamb, I’ve been toxing it up since 27 and I’m almost 33.
Jane: What?! But you’re crazy. You don’t have any wrinkles to treat.
Me: Yes. Because I Botox.
Jane: Gosh. Maybe I’ll start doing it when I’m 40.
Me: Sure, but you’ll have missed the boat a bit. It’s the same way you need to start wearing sunscreen now, not when all the sun damage pops up ten years later.
Jane: Are you sure there’s no cream that can give me similar results?
Me: Nope. Nothing. Not even close.
Anyway, I’m going to stop being a total bitch to Jane and tell you about Dr Kamlen Pillay, an SA qualified specialist surgeon with an American Academy Board Certification in aesthetic surgery. He is also the MD of The Wembley Clinic in Gardens. I’ve been ‘toxed by several docs around Cape Town and Kamlen is one of the best. He’s also one of the few plastic surgeons I’d trust to yank up my face after I hit the big 40.
I rocked up at his clinic the other day in a massive rush and we didn’t have time to slap on any anaesthetic cream. ‘Oh, don’t you worry, I’ll use a distraction technique by tapping on the nerve just before I inject and you won’t register the prick’, he said. I was all ‘Okie dokes’, but internally going ‘Yeah, right’, and mentally braced myself for a bit o’ pain. But surprise, surprise; it totally didn’t hurt. Go Dr. P, you rock star! He didn’t even mess up my make-up so I was able to run off to the ballet ten minutes later and nobody was the wiser.
Anyway, I thought I’d share my before and after shots with you. I took them myself.
First, this is me ‘before’ with my face completely relaxed:
…until I smile. Below is a close up shot of me, pre-Botox, with a grin on my face:
Now here I am, ten days later, post-Botox:
In all, I’m not going to tell you that you have to get jiggy with a needle. You don’t have to Fend off Father Time optimally and, if you don’t mind crow’s feet or brow lines, by all means, all the more power to you. Also, if you view a ten minute non-permanent doctor-delivered procedure like Botox as drastic but reckon laser hair removal from Annetjie in Hout Bay is a-okay, I can’t change your mind. Just don’t expect me to serve up a topical suggestion that’ll be just as good or offer the same results.
However, if you’re looking for a fab doc to serve it up to you, Dr Pillay is one of the best I’ve seen and gets a Lipglossgirl thumbs up.
P.S. If you’ve got any questions I’m happy to chat in the comments section.