While many young women think about Botox as something they’ll maybe consider dabbling in when their smooth, youthful complexions start to give way to the creases and wrinkles of age, others start early. Like, in their 20s early.
Called “preventative Botox,” the phenomenon describes when young people start pre-treating wrinkles before they even appear to slow the progression and essentially stay one step ahead of the aging process. Norman Rowe, M.D., a New York City board-certified plastic surgeon, has seen an influx of young women (and men!) coming into his own office for Botox.
“People are taking care of themselves at a much younger age,” Dr. Rowe explains. Years ago, women would cook under the sun, slathered in baby oil. “Now, people wear sunblock in their makeup. Things have really changed.” With that strong attention to keeping skin healthy and youthful, comes a keen awareness of (and resistance to) aging.
According to recently released stats, last year, dermatologists delivered 3.6 million rounds of Botox (and its non-brand-name competitors). While non-surgical procedures in general are exploding now, Rowe reminds us that Botox seems to be the leader of the pack. “It’s probably one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed period in the U.S.” And it makes sense—wouldn’t you rather 10 minutes of uncomfortable pinching every four months over surgery with a painful, lengthy healing process?
Marina Peredo, M.D., P.C.,, who has practices in Smithtown, Long Island, and NYC, says she also sees young patients looking to freeze the hands of time. “We have many patients that come in for Botox in the crows feet as the most common area, and forehead, as a preventative measure.”
Now the important question: Does it work?
“The literature kind of goes both ways,” says Rowe. “But I always say, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.” He gives this analogy: “Bend a piece of paper, and if you open it up the crease is still there.” Well, that’s a well formed wrinkle, and it’s not going to go away completely, no matter how much you try to smooth it out. “But if you start early enough, you don’t give skin that chance to deeply crease or form. Botox in there will make it go away and prevent it from getting worse if it’s not already too well formed.”
Dr. Peredo also vouches for the neurotoxin’s prophylactic (preventative) powers. “Botox works to temporarily relax the muscles and develop muscle memory so they stay relaxed. It is the opposite of exercising. And when the muscle is relaxed, fewer lines form.”
Whether you already have a few fine lines creeping up, or are just looking to preemptively treat your skin, starting on injectables can make a difference. But, says Rowe, if you want to do it, you have to do it right. Coming in once a year will essentially have no long-term effect. “Like working out, you have to use it or lose it. You don’t have to use it as religiously as if you’re treating a deep wrinkle though—you could get away with twice or three times a year to start.”
There aren’t any specific dangers to starting Botox in your 20s, Rowe adds, as long as the adult is healthy and has none of the autoimmune or neuropathic disorders that make Botox a no-no. “The people who make Botox say not to use it on someone under 18, and I wouldn’t do that anyway for cosmetic uses.” His typical preventative patient? Late 20s, looking to get rid of crows feet.
And as long as you have a doctor that’s experienced and knows how to administer it correctly (Rowe says he’s conservative when administering it to a 27-year-old woman who’s treating prophylactically versus someone in her late 40s using it therapeutically to treat existing wrinkles), your results will be completely natural-looking. The biggest downside to starting early? Its effect on your bank account over the years. But depending on how much you’re willing to splurge for youthful skin, it may be an investment worth making.
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