Whether you’re thinking of experimenting with Botox for the first time or are just trying to better prepare for your next appointment, we’re sure you have a list of questions you’re too afraid to ask—like how to avoid looking like you’re made of plastic and how much it really costs. We enlisted the help of Beverly Hills–based Botox expert Dr. Will Kirby, medical director at LaserAway, to make your visit a little less awkward and a little more productive. Here, all the answers you ever wanted without having to actually ask.
First Things First
What Is Botox?
You might think of Botox as magic needles that make you look younger in an instant, but Dr. Kirby describes it as "the trade name for a commonly injected neurotoxin that's used to temporarily prevent communication between nerves and specific facial muscles resulting in a more relaxed appearance."
What Does It Do?
Determine what your ultimate goal is. There are two kinds of facial lines that Botox can correct: static and kinetic. Static lines are the ones you can see even if your face is resting, and kinetic lines are the wrinkles you see when you move your face, such as laugh lines and frown lines.
When Should You Start?
There is no right age to start Botox—it's all on a case-by-case basis. "On one end of the extreme, I might see an 18-year-old with deep furrows in her frown and she would be considered a good candidate," explains Dr. Kirby. "Or I'll occasionally see a woman in her mid-50s with minimal fine lines. The most common age for those seeking Botox lies somewhere in the early 30s. Some come in to correct static lines they have developed, and others want to prevent ever having them."
What The Future Holds
How Often Should You Get It?
It all depends on how long you've been getting the injections. "Results last longer when the muscle is atrophied, and the more consistent you are with Botox the more atrophied the muscles will be, thus allowing more time between injection sessions to achieve the same results," explains Dr. Kirby.
Will You Become Dependent On It?
Trying it one time will not mean that you are obligated to stick to it for the rest of your life. Dr. Kirby explains that after the first visit, "you'll have a more relaxed, youthful appearance for two and half to three and half months. After this time period, the movement of facial muscles that contribute to unwanted wrinkles will slowly return as though nothing ever happened." He adds, "The key to any aspect of dermatology, medical or cosmetic, is prevention."
While some patients will claim to see the difference in a day or two, it typically takes approximately three to four days for the results to kick in.
What Is The Correct Dosage To Ask For?
The dosage is measured in units and while the amount depends on each patient's needs, Dr. Kirby recommends "approximately 20 units per area as a very general rule of thumb for the first visit."
How Much Does It Cost?
"Most practitioners charge per area or per unit—both are acceptable," he explains. "You can occasionally see prices as low as $9 per unit and as high as $15 per unit—there are often discounts provided for those who need a larger number of units or treat multiple areas."
How Long Will It Take To See Results?
Although the appointment (not including a consultation) will take only about 15 minutes, Botox results do not happen immediately. "While some patients will claim to see the difference in a day or two, it typically takes approximately three to four days for the results to kick in," explains Dr. Kirby. "The results will be at their strongest somewhere between day ten to day 14."
Where It Can Go Wrong
Will You Bruise?
Bruising is one of the most common side effects associated with Botox injections, according to Dr. Kirby. "They will resolve quickly and can be covered with makeup," he adds. "Placing an ice pack to the injected area just after treatment may minimize the incidence and severity of bruising."
What If You Get Too Many Units?
"Too many units placed in the wrong anatomical areas can lead to a temporary eyelid droop," Dr. Kirby says. "Luckily, this is very transient and will nearly always resolve within two weeks."
Still not convinced it's right for you? It's a good thing you got all the answers before booking your appointment. While Botox is a simple fix for some, for others, a needle anywhere near the face can be too close for comfort. For those who prefer results without the possibility of blacking out, we've rounded up some alternatives that’ll smooth your lines from the comfort of your own home.