I have injected many thousands of units of Botox while being in a career of vanity medicine. Botulin toxin type A is the active ingredient of Botox, which works by paralyzing the movement of the injected facial muscle. As the movement stops, so does the wrinkling of the skin above it. Botox has been in clinical use for over 15 years. In 2002, the FDA approved its use for the lines between eyebrows.
B0tox costs about $5-$6 dollars per unit when a medical office orders it. Most offices charge between $9-$13 dollars per unit. A typical visit can take up to 50 units, or about $500 if the office charges $10 dollars per unit. Some people report an immediate effect of not being able to frown but for most, it takes 3 days to 2 weeks to feel the full effect of paralyzed muscles.
While Botox makes your wrinkles looking softer, over time the injected muscles atrophy and this eventually can lead to sagging skin in the area. Think about the skin on your arms–if you consistently don’t exercise the biceps and triceps you get flabby arms. The same happens if you don’t exercise muscles in your face–eventually the skin starts to droop. It doesn’t happen immediately; it takes a few years and many thousands of dollars out of your pocket, but it is simple physics.
Another thing about Botox is that, with its widespread use, everybody started looking the same. Women and men started to lose their uniqueness. That is why many celebrities started to turn away from injections that make them look generic. I think occasional use to soften some lines (please no eyebrow lifts!), like once a year, might be ok, but injecting every three months is definitely excessive. Save your money, your skin and put forward your unique look and try these free, or much less expensive, anti-aging alternatives to Botox.
1. Eat well –a lot of greens, low glycemic index veggies, high quality protein and healthy fats. Avoid simple sugars and excessive carbohydrates–which are implicated in inflammation that accelerates aging and therefore skin wrinkles.
2. Use great moisturizer. Moisture is essential for your skin’s conditioning. Just think of shoes that never get polished…you get the idea.
3. Avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen daily, even if it’s cloudy. The key ingredients that you should look for in sunscreen are zinc oxide and titanium oxide–without either of these, your sunscreen is worthless.
4. Drink 1,5-2 liters of water. Water is your internal lubricant and solvent for all the biochemical processes taking place in the body.
5. Practice yoga (but with awareness and research…aka ‘safely’). Yoga is a great exercise for the body and is a tranquilizer for the mind. Remember, to educate yourself about the safe practice of yoga.
6. Don’t frown–frowning makes you less happy because it is a physical cue to your emotions, and it also gives you skin lines between your eye brows. Treatment of this area might need between 12 to 30 units.
7. Avoid raising your brows excessively. Of course, you don’t want to have a frozen look (that is what Botox is for) but be aware of needless use of your eyebrows. Treatment of the forehead might take between 4 to 12 units.
8. Don’t pucker your lips nor use a drinking straw, because doing that gives you vertical lines that takes about 6 units of Botox to treat.
10. Use great eye cream. Eye cream is a must. They say that eyes are the mirrors of the soul and there is nothing like skin around our eyes that shows the signs of aging. It can take up to 6 units of Botox to treat crow’s feet areas on each eye.
11. Wear polarized sunglasses with good coverage–which will not only protect you from premature wrinkling, but can help you save your eyesight. Sunlight is the leading contributor to developing cataracts.
12. Don’t pout turning your your lips downward and creating “marionette lines”– wrinkling from the corners of your lips as well as an “peau d’orange”, or skin that resembles an orange peel, on your chin. It can take anywhere from 6 to 12 units of Botox to undo these looks.
13. Sleep on a flat pillow so that you skip 25 to 50 units of Botox on your neck. Using Botox on your neck requires a very special skill because a mishap has life threatening consequences…(you can stop breathing).
14. Botox is used in facial contouring to weaken certain facial muscles to give the face a more feminine appearance. To have that naturally, simply avoid chewing a lot of hard stuff like almonds or tough steak because the act of moving your jaw when chewing works out many facial muscles that makes them grow and therefore gives a more masculine look to the face (although if you are a man, you might want that effect).
I hope you can use my insights on alternatives to Botox to stay healthy and beautiful without potential side effects.