10 things you need to know about Botox
Liz Hurley reputedly had her underarms injected with Botox to protect the Versace 'safety-pin' gown she wore to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral from perspiration stains.
Nearly 20 years later Liz's frock no longer has the ability to drop jaws, but the very mention of Botox can still raise a few alarmed eyebrows.
Or not. As everyone knows, Botox is a neurotoxin that causes temporary muscle paralysis and is used as a wrinkle-preventer. Despite it's popularity, Botox continues to inspire both fear and confusion.
If you are considering it, here are 10 key things you should know...
1. It's been around since the 1960s
Popularly known for its use in appearance procedures, Botox also has some significant medical applications.
Originally tapped for use in the 1960s to help realign crossed eyes, it's now used in the treatment of many medical conditions including muscle spasms, facial tics, cerebral palsy, strokes, obesity, migraine and hyperhidrosis, otherwise kown as excessive sweating.
2. It is derived from the botulism toxin, but...
Botox itself is a purified protein made by the botulism organism (similar to the way penicillin is made from mould). It works by blocking the body's production of acetylcholine, therefore relaxing the muscles.
3. Once injected, it won't navigate its way into your blood stream
Botox is injected directly into a muscle and remains in that muscle only, it doesn't move around the body.
4. It is effective?
For many reasons, Botox can be polarising. But those who have tried it, especially to prevent wrinkles, generally go back for more, for a very good reason. It works.
Facial muscles contract hundreds of times a day, eventually creating folds in the skin. Botox, and its competitor Dysport, slow that activity down and help prevent horizontal lines in the forehead, crow's feet and vertical frown lines between the brows (often the most ageing).
It can also be used to lift the corners of the mouth, which sag with age and can make you look miserable, soften lines around the lips, lessen vertical neck cords and minimse 'pin cushion' chins.
5. Could it give me a frozen look?
The short answer is yes. Every drug can be prescribed incorrectly, and Botox is no exception. If the wrong person injects it - if they misjudge the size of your muscles and how much you need - the results can be off-putting. Face-freezing is rare and is not to do with Botox, but who injects it.
But not necessarily disasterous. I once had too much injected into my forehead. The result was a very slightly droopy brow. I looked tired, but not odd. Rather than go back to the same doctor for another go, I lived with it. The results wore off quickly - within a few weeks, but I did a lot more research about the drug (and changed my doctor) before I tried it again.
6. Can I get the same results from skincare?
You can't. When it comes to wrinkles, Botox is highly effective: if you can't frown you can't crease. It is also a preventative - regular use means new lines can't form either.
But it isn't for everyone. Good skincare will plump out the wrinkles, potentially delay new ones from forming and help keep the skin healthy. But, so far, nothing works in quite the same way.
7. Does it hurt?
Injections sting. Full stop. The pain's temporary though.
8. Will everyone notice?
When Botox is successful, no one should ever suspect you've had anything 'done', but they may notice that you look fresher, younger or more cheerful. A frozen face is a bad result. For example, you should still be able to frown and your eyes should still crinkle up when you smile.
9. Shouldn't I just age gracefully?
"There is no question that being healthy is fundamental regardless of your age, but ageing gracefully seems somewhat contradictory to what actually happens as you get older," says Cosmetic Cop Paula Begoun.
"Given what the ravages of sun damage and passing years do to your face and body, what can result "naturally" is anything but graceful.
"It's not something we should casually accept as inevitable, but of course, that's a decision each of has to make for ourselves."
10. How do I find a reputable doctor?
The New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine is a good place to start if you are interested in finding a Botox provider. Visit www.nzcam.co.nz.