Saving Face

Let’s play a little word-association game:

I say Botox, you say Botulism, paralysis, and (insert celebrity name here).

That was the visceral reaction I got from friends, families, and co-workers when I said I was going to check out real, live, injections last week. And I don’t blame them; I’ve never had any desire to get Botox. Partly because I don’t need it (yet, and I use “need” loosely), and mostly because I don’t want to change something that’s naturally occurring in my body by inserting something that isn’t.

However, as a journalist I need to be objective. Oh, and I was morbidly curious. I had my opportunity at Uptown Dermatology and SkinSpa, who hosted a holiday party on Friday. 25 percent off Botox! Would this draw a crowd and if so, who would comprise that crowd?

The answer is yes, and lots of women far younger than I expected. Women who are in my, um, bracket. Of course it’s hard to judge the ages of people who undergo such enhancements. Maybe the 30 year-olds were actually 45. According to the regional Botox rep at the event, the Twin Cities does the same volume of treatments as Chicago. And the group is age 30-55. If you think that’s young (please say you are), then consider this tidbit: The biggest growth in Botox use is in women ages 25-35. This group is turning to Botox for prevention. They don’t ever want to see a brow furrow. Or any form of expression?

Back to being objective. I watched as Dr. Davis injected Botox into the muscle around the tiny crows feet of a willing participant. Within seconds of the injections, the creases appeared to have filled in, though it was the muscle that had stopped contracting “like purse strings” as Dr. Davis described. I didn’t think she needed Botox to begin with, but when I saw how quick, and fairly painless (small needle, no anesthesia required) the procedure was, I understood how addictive it could be.

For some people. I am still not interested. Are you? After years of sun-worshipping (in the form of sunscreen-free tennis matches and baby-oiled on dorn roof top) I am trying to undo the damage I’ve don–as naturally and un-invasively (not a word) as possible. To really understand what I’m up against, I signed up for UV analysis at the event. The line was a lot shorter for this procedure. Basically, you stick your face in a box that uses ultraviolet lamps to reveal sun damage, dehydration, and even pre-cancerous lesions that may not be visible to the naked eye. Thanks to mirrors within the box, I could see everything, as could the administrator who peered in from another opening in the box. Now, ignorance is never bliss when it comes to your health. But eeek. My biggest concern was that the smattering of sunspots I already have are only the beginning. Thankfully, this is not the case. They are superficial (only as deep as the epidermis and easily treated with retinol and this lovely botanical serum), and more were not lurking beneath the surface. Hallelujah!

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