To Botox or Not...
Botox cosmetic, approved by the FDA in 2002, is an injectable that works by restricting muscle action that results in facial creases or wrinkles. The botullnum toxin type A is usually administered around the eyes and forehead to minimize any forehead “frown” wrinkles and crows feet. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, botox is the number one nonsurgical cosmetic procedure performed in the U.S. with over 4 million documented procedures last year - so far in the number one spot that the second most commonly performed procedure was hyaluronic acid at only 1.8 million. Despite the high cost (around $400 per area treated), the short term affects (lasting about 6-9 months), and the scary idea of a deadly virus injected directly into the skin, there is no denying that many people love to use botox. But why? Because it is highly effective at minimizing wrinkles and is considered to successfully prevent further development of wrinkles. Ultimately, it works and it works very well! But what about the downside of all this botox use?
Research suggests that the use of botox has negative social ramifications, particularly in that studies show that those who use botox have a more difficult time recognizing various emotions as conveyed through facial expression. Additionally, individuals interacting with others who have had botox tend to think that person does not empathize or connect with them during the social interaction. In fact, they can’t empathize because the act of expressing those “micro expressions” during an interaction helps us to actually also feel the emotions. Meaning, if someone is telling a sad story about how their dog was hit by a car, and you’ve had botox, you would not be able to adequately express the emotion of empathy towards this sad news - and you would have a harder time actually feeling as empathetic as you would without the botox (basically your friend will think you don’t give a shit). Of course you can still feel and convey some empathy but not to the extent you would have otherwise and this can have very negative effects on your relationships. No wonder the women on all the Real Housewives shows seem to always lack empathy and have such drama in their relationships!
When working on my doctoral dissertation, I interviewed women about their experiences with nonsurgical cosmetic procedures and some had used botox. Overall, their experiences were quite positive but this was also before these more recent studies on social interaction were conducted. Clients ask me about cosmetic surgery and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures and here’s my stance…if it makes you feel good and you can afford it, why not! But you need to be clear of the trade-offs you are making in your choices. I have only had a mild chemical peel and a laser facial to remove sun spots (both of which were painful to me - I’m a wuss) and have no experience with botox. But I feel confident that anyone under the age of 40 or 45 does not need botox.
There are other strategies you can implement to minimize the affects of aging. First of all, wash your face every day - day and night - and use a good moisturizer and eye cream. Secondly, avoid smoking and getting too much sun - both of which are 100% known to accelerate the look of aging skin. And finally, and most importantly, try to avoid too much stress in your life and remain happy. Happy, positive people seem to radiate a more youthful glow! I realize there are a lot of social pressures to remain youthful looking and there are certainly social rewards to looking good, but everyone has to weigh the pros and cons of cosmetically intervening with the skin. Maybe you should consider peels or laser facials, which are effective and don’t hinder your social interactions.
Note: I realize that not everyone who gets botox has the “frozen face” and many doctors do a good job of making it look as natural as possible. But any use of botox, even minimally, inhibits the ability to use micro expressions.