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A Beginner’s Guide to Anti-wrinkle Injections

Anti-wrinkle injections are on the rise and more and more women ( and men) are seeking them out to prevent and treat the signs of ageing.

In the past five years, the popularity of Botox in the U.S. has skyrocketed. In 2017 over 1.5 million anti-wrinkle injections were administered. This is around 0.5% of the population.

I personally started my anti-wrinkle injection journey around 10 years ago at the ripe young age of 27 years old with much convincing from my best friend. ( Yes I did just give my age away ) I honestly thought the doctor would kick me out of his rooms as I did not have a wrinkle in sight. But to my surprise, I received a full face of botulinum toxin and the results were astonishing. My skin had never looked so smooth and fresh , my brows and cheeks lifted noticeably and the downturned corners of my mouth were now in a pleasant upward direction. From then on I was sold and I have been receiving my botulinum toxin treatments religiously every 4 months since.  Lets just say I haven’t seen a wrinkle in the last 10 years. 

I have created this easy to read guide for those of you thinking of taking the leap or for those who currently receive anti-wrinkle treatments and want to know more .

What is botulinum toxin and how does it work?

Anti-wrinkle injections are a purified protein made from botulinum toxin A. This toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning. However, the doses used for anti-wrinkle injections are so minutely small,  they are deemed safe for cosmetic and medical use.

When injected into the targeted muscle, botulinum toxin blocks the signals from your nerves to your muscles. This prevents the specific muscles from contracting , which in turn improves and treats the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as the overlying skin is unable to contract.

When should one start having anti-wrinkle injections?

Most patients start using botulinum toxin around the age of 30 years old , some even in their mid 20s. Especially those patients who have very expressive faces. When to start treatments is very much dependent on the individual as the strength of our facial muscles differ from person to person. Those patients with a strong frown , at risk of developing deep brow wrinkles (the “11’s lines”) could start as early as age 25. Most patients I have treated start anti-wrinkle injections when they notice mild creases at rest after frowning or lifting the eyebrows.

Personally, I started before any lines made their appearance because I wanted to use anti-wrinkle injections as a purely preventative measure. And it really has done me a world of good – I don’t actually know what a wrinkle looks like on my skin!

It is best not to leave it too late when there is a deep set wrinkle at rest. You know those deep furrows I’m talking about. Botulinum toxin will prevent them from worsening but you will likely need fillers at this point.

How often do you need to have anti-wrinkle injections and how long do they last ?

How often you should get anti-wrinkle injections also depends on your age, the severity of your wrinkles, and how long the treatment normally lasts for you. Not every patient is the same but the average time frame for botulinum toxin efficacy is around three to four months so that is the frequency of treatments that I would recommend. I’ve seen botulinum toxin lasting up to 6 months in a lucky few patients. Those patients opting for a more prophylactic approach can extend treatments to 6 monthly intervals.

Results can be seen after 3-5 days with full effect after 2 weeks. At this time we can schedule a top up appointment for any areas that need extra attention. 

Dosage used and physical activity can also affect the longevity of anti-wrinkle injections. The more active you are the quicker your botulinum toxin can wear off. So if you feel guilty for sometimes  skipping the gym know that there are some positives to this.

Do you have to keep up anti -wrinkle injections indefinitely ?

Most definitely not . If you receive anti-wrinkle injections and its not for you or the budget does not allow for it , your face and muscles will return to their normal baseline state after the botulinum toxin wears off . 

Interesting to note is that patients who receive anti-wrinkle injections regularly over time actually can decrease the dose needed and increase the interval time between treatments. Treating depressor muscles with botulinum toxin can also can retrain and rebalance your muscles , weakening those muscles which make you look angry or sad and strengthening the lifting muscles of the face. People who habitually frown or lift their eyebrows excessively can actually break that habit with regular botulinum toxin use.

Are there any side effects or complications?

Yes as with any medical procedure there are some possible side effects. Immediate side effects can include small swellings at the injection sites, which can look like small mosquito bites . These resolve after a few minutes. Bruising is also an immediate, harmless side effect which resolves fully after a couple of days. An important side note is those patients who take high dose vitamin C  , fish oils , or anti -inflammatories are more likely to bruise after receiving anti-wrinkle injections so it is best to stop taking these a week before your procedure. Alcohol also has this effect .

The biggest risk is the brow drop and eyelid drop. Luckily this complication is transient and resolves after about 6 weeks. This is usually technique dependent or too high a dose for that specific patient. Another cause is what the patient does post procedure . It is very important to listen to your doctor’s instructions for post procedure care. No bending or lying down for 6 hours, no pressing or massaging the face and no exercise for 24 hours. Also, don’t schedule any hair appointments or massages after your treatment. You are asking for trouble ! 

Can I have botulinum treatments if I am trying to conceive , pregnant or breastfeeding?

Unfortunately much to the dismay mostly of our breastfeeding moms wanting their post mommy makeover , botulinum toxin is contraindicated in all of the above situations. Interestingly enough, and of course due to ethical reasons, there have been no clinical studies proving that botulinum toxin is unsafe in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. With no way to determine the safety of injections during pregnancy and breastfeeding it is best to play it safe and avoid them all together. 

I hope this guide has provided you with some valuable information before you start on your anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing journey and if you are a seasoned veteran I hope you have learnt something new . To book a free consultation with me, Dr Jemma Simpson, please contact our lovely team at Tash 360 to make your booking. 

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