My First Time with Botox: They Promised a Better Version of Me

By my 30s, little crow’s feet had nestled into the corners of my eyes and a parenthesis was clearly visible around my mouth. When I saw that a plastic surgery office nearby was offering an open house to prospective Botox clients, I decided to drop by.

Living in Southern California, where the obsession with youthful looks remains as high as real-estate prices, I found myself tempted by the shiny plastic surgery office I passed every day on my way to work.

The women moving in and out of the building looked confident, bold and bright — as if their faces contained some kind of special light behind it, whereas my light had burned out long ago. I wanted to make an appointment to go in, but I felt a tad scared.

During my early 20s I gave myself migraine shots, which instilled a deep fear of needles in me. I loathed sticking my leg with this long, sharp stick as much as I hated the migraine itself. This caused me to shy away from any unnecessary procedure involving sharp objects… until Father Time reared his head.

By my 30s, little crow’s feet nestled into the corners of my eyes, a parenthesis started forming around my mouth, and I began thinking about Botox (a lot).

Don’t Worry, Be Happy — Even If Your Face Can’t Show It Because It’s Frozen

In addition to my fear of needles, I worried that Botox injections would cause aches and soreness. I found out I wasn’t alone in these concerns.

“A lot of my Botox newbies think it will be painful,”  says Dr. Sonita Sadio of Sub Rosa Private Aesthetics in New York City. “In the right hands, it isn’t. You should be able to go to an event, high-stakes meeting or first date if your Botox has been done correctly,”

I started researching Botox and found out it was minimally invasive and quick. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Zarrabi of Santa Monica, CA advises Botox first-timers that injections should only take a few minutes: “You should anticipate little to no discomfort, and any swelling (which will be minimal) will go down within 10 to 15 minutes following the treatment.”

Added bonus: “Other approved uses for Botox are the treatment of migraine headaches, hyperhidrosis, eye muscle imbalance and muscle spasms,” says Dr. Manish H. Shah of Shah Aesthetic Surgery in Denver, CO. If you’re a chronic migraine sufferer like me, it’s money well spent.

Nothing Is Ever as Bad as You Think

When I saw that a plastic surgery office in La Jolla, CA was offering an open house to prospective Botox clients, I decided to drop by. I appreciated this nice touch, along with the free cupcakes (which, to be honest, I appreciated more). The other attendees’ hands shook and they giggled loudly. It brought me a sense of peace to see others were scared of Botox too.

Luckily, the staff quelled our edginess as they calmly walked us around the lovely facilities. They kept articulating how much they love what they do.

“Botox is a really simple treatment that keeps you looking like you — just a better version of you,” one said to me. I liked that statement. It made Botox feel much more modest than how flashy the media portrays it — like this go-to fountain of youth for rich celebrities.

I made up my mind to do it.

I arrived at the office a few minutes early for my appointment and nervously thumbed through magazines without paying any attention to what was on the page. Soon I was taken to the back and the doctor asked, “How many units do you want?” as she pulled a chair next to me.

I didn’t know what a unit was and felt embarrassed for my obvious lack of Botox knowledge.

The doctor looked over my face and decided eight units would suffice to rid my forehead of its deep horizontal lines and remove the crow’s feet around my eyes.

I shut my eyes to avoid looking at the needle. To my surprise, I barely felt anything. Success! My face felt a little frozen but the pain was non-existent. After three days, I noticed my eyebrows looked lower than normal. This made me feel somewhat concerned, but by the end of the week I only had two small wrinkles at the top of my head, near my hairline. I was floored.

As it turns out, my results were pretty typical.

“Though the full effect will take seven to ten days, most start seeing the effects in two to three days. On the forehead you might notice it at first in the middle — it will work its way out from there,” says Dr. Sadio. She also offers up this piece of advice: “Make sure you’re not being overdone. Start small.”

I did. And it was worth it.

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