I first tried Botox when I was perhaps 30 years old. I had barely a wrinkle on my face but as a beauty director I was often offered free treatments and I figured why not. I quite liked the effect and occasionally still dabble in this style of injectable but I do sometimes wonder ... should I have started earlier than 30? And if so why?
According to cosmetic doctor Phoebe Jones the ideal age to receive anti-wrinkle injections continues to cause much debate.
"The most common question I get asked is 'What is the magic number when it comes to starting anti-wrinkle procedures?'," says Dr Jones. And her answer to that question?
"If I had to put an age on it, I would say around 27,” she says.
Damn. I'm behind schedule by oh ... almost 20 years. This is a bit of a concern so I put it to Dr Jones. Why so young?
"This is the age when we start to lose collagen and elasticity in the skin,” she explains.
"For the majority of people, starting smaller doses of anti-wrinkle injections in their late 20’s or early 30’s is ideal for preventative purposes,” she adds.
Hmm ... so I'd need to hurry up. Clearly. But back to how these injections work.
Anti-wrinkle injections, commonly referred to as Botox, Dysport or Xeomin contain Botulinum toxin, a bacterially derived protein that binds to receptors at the junction where a nerve ending meets a motor muscle ending. This binding prevents the nerve from sending a message to the muscle telling it to move, explains Dr Jones.
"The result is temporary paralysis of the muscles telling it to move. The anti-wrinkle injection proteins eventually start to unbind from the receptors and the effects slowly wear off, which is why your face can never permanently 'freeze',” she adds.
And thank goodness for that.
But do we really need these injections? And not just at 27 but ever? That's a question that can only be answered by each of us individually. Personally, I like the effect of a small amount of muscle-freezer in my forehead so I'll get Botox there when and if I can afford to, but I'm kind of attached to the laugh lines at the corners of my eyes so they're staying.
Of course, this does mean they will eventually get deeper and more pronounced. That's how life works. So, who knows ... mayne I'll feel differently in the future. Then, I can opt for injections and prevent the ageing process altogether! Well, kind of.
"Anti-wrinkle injections are performed to ensure that fine lines will soften and not become deeply set," says Dr Jones.
"If left untreated, these fine lines become more difficult to treat which is why we encourage people to receive anti-wrinkle injections in their late 20’s or early 30’s rather than hold off until their 40’s or 50’s."
But there's good news too, even for grown women such as myself. And here it is ...
"In saying that, there is no such thing as it being too late to get anti-wrinkle injections," says Dr Jones.
"More mature patients will just have some deep lines at rest which won’t resolve completely with one anti-wrinkle injection treatment and we may encourage combining these injections with dermal fillers to fill the lines.
“While an individual’s age is a contributing factor to deciding on when to get anti-wrinkle injections, there is no fixed age and other factors come into play. For example, people with overly expressive faces may start a little earlier than their late 20’s," says Dr Jones. "Additionally, lifestyle factors including the time spent in the sun without protection and smoking can really speed up the skins ageing process. Becoming fastidious about sun protection is invaluable for your skin," she adds.
Those who are interested in muscle freezing injectables should do some research first. Ensure anyone who treats you is experienced in this work (a cosmetic doctor or nurse practitioner is ideal) and well qualified too. Ask questions. Any questions! And pay attention to the answers.
Costs will vary depending on where you get your injectable treatments and also, how many areas you have injected. Expect to pay at least $300 an area, say the forehead or crow's feet.