BOTOX: Everything you want to know but might be afraid to ask?


Introduction to Botox….. this one may or may not be a surprise to you but Botox has been on my radar for years.  I know many of my peers have also considered it,  some even swear by this miracle worker, so in the interest of exploring it further, I decided to do an article on everything you need to know about Botox, will it hurt, how much will it cost, what could go wrong and will I get addicted??

I know this is definitely one that will divide some of you, but I will try to be balanced in my approach, for those of you that have been seriously pondering this, I hope it gives you some insight in to making an informed decision.

I have been toying up with the idea of having Botox since I hit my thirties,   but then babies came along and it went on the back burner for obvious reasons…..

Now the sleepless nights, stress, worry, laughter and excessive kissing my babies lines, are slowly starting to etch their way on my face.   Not that I am complaining, I love expressive faces and am not a fan of the frozen polished look at all.  But, it has got me thinking, what other alternatives are out there to slow down the clock other than my trusty anti-ageing skincare.

So here I am contemplating Botox AGAIN – a few more wrinkles later, this time I thought I would take “one for the team” and I recently headed along to the Skin Institute and asked all the hard questions, all those burning ones that you really want to know but perhaps may have been too scared to ask.

Firstly before we get in to the consult a bit of background, did you know Botox is a category name as well as brand name? Not many people do and they don’t ask what they are injected with. This is pretty important and as no two toxins are the same, so this is probably a good first question to ask.

The official words is Botulinum (Botox™/Dysport) is a purified protein derived from a naturally occurring bacteria. Cosmetically it is used to relax facial muscles however it is interesting to note that it is also used for medical conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, eye spasm and excessive sweating. Botulinum has had a proven safety record for over 30 years with no long term side effects reported. Botox works on the muscles so you can’t contract them, causing you not to frown.

There are lots of reasons people look to Botox for appearance, some are about slowing down the clock, others are about looking fresher, less grumpy with the frown lines between the brows appearing less obvious.  Generally the reoccurring theme is – it is about people feeling good about themselves and appearing as though they are a little more relaxed.

Now that we know what Botox is, let’s start with my Skin Institute consultation.  Well my consultation started so well with my lovely registered nurse asking if I have previously had Botox on my forehead, as apparently my frown lines didn’t appear that obvious, it was clearly a part of my face I didn’t use much she said (either that or I was well practised in my resting b*tch face lol).  No, I explained that I hadn’t taken the plunge yet, but hey I thought, we were off to a great start if she doesn’t think I need it there. (I do very much need it other places I believe, however the frown area is the most common place people get Botox initially).

The consultation is very much a two way process, it starts with an extremely detailed presentation including diagrams and slides, about what Botox does to your muscles, exactly where it needs to be injected in to the muscle to see the desired effect and when you can expect to see results.  I really didn’t have too many technical-related questions after the presentation, as most of them were covered off as we went, it was very thorough and professional.

Skin Institute Remuera_Consult room_0430

How long does it last?
The treatment typically lasts 3-6 months, however some people can use the toxin up quicker. It takes effect anywhere from 2 -14 days.

Who should inject the treatment?
A registered nurse or doctor should perform the treatment on the patient.   At the Skin Institute, in addition to being a Registered Nurse, every clinician needs to complete an additional CANSI 1-year diploma to ensure extensive internal training standards are met.  This was reassuring to know the extremely high, professional standards the Skin Institute expect.

Does the treatment hurt?
As you might expect, it is quite subjective, some client’s feel no discomfort, while others report minor and temporary discomfort. The needles used are very fine and ice can be applied before and after treatment to minimise any pain.

Are some areas more sensitive than others?
Some areas are more sensitive than others. Injections around the lips tend to be the most tender. Generally the forehead and between the eyebrows is less painful as the skin is thicker and less sensitive. It all depends on your pain threshold. For some client’s with needle phobias or high sensitivity, numbing cream can be applied first.

 Once the Botox has worn off, does the toxin completely leave your system or does it stay in your bloodstream?
The toxin itself is metabolised and leaves your body within 24 hours.

How much is a unit?
Prices are charged based on the number of units used. A single unit of Botox is $18.50.  The most common Glabella/frown area generally requires around 20 Units , so you could expect to pay around $370 for this.  An individual assessment is critical for optimal results.  Botox is delivered in a vacuum dried powder, which when reconstituted makes 100 units for treating facial muscles.

Like any treatment side effects can be possible and may include the following:

Bruising, this is minor and not common.
Mild headaches.
Lid or brow ptosis (droopy eyelid) again very rare and would depend on an injector’s expertise, close proximity of muscles, and following aftercare instructions.

Who should not have Botox?
Treatment must be avoided if Pregnant or Breastfeeding.  There are some medications which contraindicate, so it is important to advise your consultant if you are on any medication.

Post Care
There are also some important steps that must be taken to ensure best results in after care. Some of which surprised me, so certainly worth considering if you are a gym bunny.  It is recommended that you do not run or massage the area for one week, certainly don’t lift heavy weights.  However you can apply make-up and moisturise as usual, gently on the skin.

I was keen to know when is the optimal time to start Botox? Is there a right time?
Not really, again this is subjective. Typically the most common age is from 30 but ladies right up to 74 are being treated.  If patients come in to the clinic that are very young and it isn’t necessary they be treated, it is often suggested that they come back in a year or so.

I was also eager to learn how much I would need?  My areas of concern at this stage are the fine lines around my top lip and my eyes crows/feet. To treat my lips it would only be minimal only four units. As typicaly fillers are used for the lip area.  However to treat my eye area & crows feet, I would need around 16-18 units which would cost around $277.  After your first treatment, you are requested to pop back for a two week consultation to see how the skin has settled.

In terms of getting hooked, well I haven’t meant anyone who has had it, and hasn’t gone back for more! Some liken it to popping along to the salon for a hair colour, it is only when you stop colouring you notice the regrowth and the same could be said for Botox?

Now I need to decide if I am bold enough to take the plunge???  I am undecided as yet, but certainly if I was to go ahead with it, Skin Institute would undoubtedly be the place, I have no question, that they are experts in their field, and their professionalism offers some reassuring peace of mind.

Skin Institute offers complimentary 15 minute consultations with a trained Appearance Medicine Nurse. To find your nearest clinic check out, Skin Institute.


Images courtesy of Skin Institute New Zealand.