So if you’ve been following along with my post 40 beauty diary, you’ll know that I’ve been trying hard to take better care of my skin, and trying out a few different treatments with the lovely people at One Stop Doctors, a brand new medical facility in Hemel Hempstead. After my consultation with GP and Aesthetic Doctor, Dr Heidi Miller, I was really excited to take the next step and book in for some Botox. If you’ve been considering having any aesthetic treatments, I thought it might be helpful to give you a completely honest account of what it’s really like to have Botox.
I’ve been toying with the idea of having Botox treatment for a while for several reasons. Firstly, let me say that I quite like my face, and I’m realistic in that I’m in my mid-forties. I’m lucky that I’ve smiled a lot, and I don’t want to get rid of all the evidence of that. Obviously I don’t want to look 17 again and it always worries me that some celebs, who surely must have access to the most expensive and highly skilled aesthetic surgeons, end up looking really quite weird. I do feel, though (and Dr Miller laughed at this one), that I’ve developed a bit of a ‘resting bitch face’. As time goes by, of course, your features settle and your skin becomes less firm. I feel like my eyebrows have dropped and it’s given me a bit of a miserable expression. I’ve asked the men in my life if this is true, but they deny it – this could be because of kindness, or, more likely, that they don’t take any notice of my face on a day to day basis. Anyway, I look at my face all the time, and I definitely feel a tiny bit more scowly than I used to be. Secondly, although I’m realistic and don’t want to remove all signs of ageing from my face, I’d love to soften some of my smile lines.
Botox: day 1
I’m SO excited as I drive over to Hemel Hempstead for my appointment. After checking in with the ladies at reception, I’m shown in to Dr Miller’s office, and we have another chat about the treatment: my concerns, Dr Miller’s recommendations, what a realistic (and aesthetically pleasing) outcome will be, etc. I really like Dr Miller’s modern outlook on aesthetic treatments: we chat about how she aims to soften and freshen my features, not to erase all lines and give me that dreaded blank ‘done’ expression with no movement in my face. I like that my treatment feels very personal and tailored to my needs.
As we discussed before, we agree on some treatment in the area between my eyebrows, which will widen the space, lift my brows slightly and relax the muscle that’s currently bunching everything together and making me look a bit frowny. We also agree on targeting around 50% of the laughter lines at the corners of my eyes, giving me a more youthful appearance, while keeping me looking like me.
Then it’s over to the couch, where Dr Miller asks me to scrunch my face up in various ways while she draws little dots on me to guide her when she does the treatment. I’m fascinated by the actual Botox, which comes as a white powder and is then mixed into a liquid. I’m also relieved to see that the needles are absolutely tiny. Dr Miller uses fresh syringes for every area, and as we start on my forehead, I can barely feel anything other than a couple of soft prickles. With a fresh syringe, we move to the outer corners of my eyes and Dr Miller asks me again to smile and relax my face as she injects what feels like three or four areas. A couple of these are a little bit more prickly, but nothing horrible.
Lastly, because we’ve talked about it, Dr Miller uses another fresh syringe to inject four or five little areas in a necklace shape across my neck (which I’m starting to notice is a little less firm than it was). Dr Miller explains that this one is a bit more hit and miss, and results can really differ on different people, but we’re giving it a go.
And then it’s all over. We have another chat about after-care (no booze today, no gym/running, gentle cleansing: no pressing or rubbing the face etc), how things will kick in (my face might feel a bit heavy and tender tomorrow, but then I’ll just feel normal – the Botox will start to work over the next week, with the full effect coming in by week three) and rare side effects (droopy eyebrows in a very small percentage of cases, the Botox kicking in a bit unevenly, headaches, that kind of thing). I look at my face in the car and although I’m a tiny bit red, there’s no bleeding or swelling. I have to do a few eyebrow scrunches over the next hour, which entertains me while I’m driving home.
Here I am: no make-up (eek! the things I do for you!), and completely wild hair, in the car, straight after the treatment:
Botox: day 2
I feel absolutely fine and cleanse my face gently, even though it’s not actually tender at all. My eyes are a bit watery, and my face does feel slightly odd, but I can’t really put my finger on why. Weirdly, though, I do have a tiny, annoying twitch underneath my left eye.
Botox: day 3
Well, the twitch has gone and I feel completely normal except for a slight tight feeling either side of my eyes. I’ve had a good look in the mirror and can’t see any changes yet.
Botox: day 4
Ooh! Things are happening! I can’t scrunch my eyebrows together into a frown any more (which the kids find hilarious: ‘do it again!’). I’m making the movements, but there’s no scrunch happening, just a bit of gentle puckering. As I was putting on my moisturiser this morning, I felt like my face was smoother, without really knowing why and I feel like my eyes have slightly lifted and opened up. I kept smiling like a loon, to check out my laughter lines, and I think there are definitely fewer! Here I am, windswept again, and no make-up again, in the garden:
Can I also just say that I’m deliberately not posting side-by-side before and after photos, because for me, it’s just not as simple as that. I think, as with many beauty treatments, it’s about how it makes you feel – there may be subtle differences which don’t show on a picture, and obviously it’s about the mobility of your face, so it’s difficult to show with pictures anyway. I’m off to Barbados for a few days tomorrow so I’ll post another update when I get back, but for now I’m really happy with how things are going and how my face is feeling.
How much does it cost?
At One Stop Doctors, treatment for a single area (so, say laughter lines, or your forehead) are from £195, and a three course package costs £525. I guess you need to go in and have a consultation. Dr Miller told me that she aims for each treatment to last about six months (it lasts longer each time you have it done) so, for me, with my two areas (the neck was a bonus), that works out at about £66 a month. When I think about how much I’ve spent on facials, moisturisers, make-up etc, I think it’s actually quite good value. If the results turn out to be fab and I really want to keep going, I’ll just try and cut back on other things in order to keep having it done.