Friday, March 15, 2013

What it's like to get Botox

I realized that before having Botox done, it was something that I'd always been somewhat curious about.  It's this mysterious procedure that elderly female celebrities get to make them look weird, but not something that "normal people" have done.  Now that I've had it done three times, I figured I'd share the experiences in case any of you were curious too.

First of all, I've had it done as a medical treatment (for my headaches), not a cosmetic one.  When used medically, the same toxins are used, though at a somewhat reduced dosage level.  It's also injected into different locations; someone getting it done for cosmetic reasons wouldn't get injections on the sides and back of their heads.  But, at the core, it's effectively still paying someone to inject poison into your face.

My particular dosage is 155 IUs of the toxin, which works out to 27 different injections.  Most of them are in the face, around my eyes, but there are several other injections around my temples and a few in the neck.  The whole process takes about 15 minutes.  Botox paralyzes your muscles.  Injected for cosmetic reasons, it gets rid of wrinkles.  The objective of using it for headaches is, roughly speaking, to weaken the face muscles so that they don't apply as much pressure to the face.  There are cosmetic side effects to the procedure; the first two times I had it done I had reduced ability to scrunch my eyebrows, and my forehead was noticeably smoother.  I just had it done a third time yesterday, though, and I haven't noticed those side effects this time; my face hardly seems weaker than it did before the injections. The effects all wear off in about ten weeks, and then you have the procedure done every three months.  It has proven somewhat effective but not very significantly effective for me, so I don't know if I'll have it a fourth time or not.

The individual injections are uncomfortable.  There's the simple fact that you're being poked with needles many times, which I don't really mind too much but some people strongly dislike, but it's also in an extremely sensitive part of your body.  The most unsettling part from my perspective is that because it's done in the face, I can actually hear every part of it.  I hear the needle puncturing my skin, sliding slightly into my face, and I either hear the liquid being injected, or I hear my muscles reacting to it.  So that's pretty creepy.  All of the injections are at least mildly painful, because the liquid burns a bit and it's an injection in a place that's sensitive to begin with.  The ones in the temples are quite painful.  My face feels sore for 24 hours or so after the procedure.  The after-effects are pretty mild, though; I often don't really notice until I touch my face to wash it, and then suddenly it stings and I remember why.

That said, most of the pain is gone a couple minutes after the procedure finishes; by the time I'm driving home, things are really not bad at all.  It's offset by reduced headache pain for the next couple months, and many people who have it done have much greater results than I have.

My health insurance covers the treatment, which is not common.  They wouldn't cover it until after years of other remedies, for reasons of cost, though the treatment is well under $1,000 per visit, and some of the drugs I've been taking are on the order of $50 a day, so it seems like if it had actually been fully effective for me it would have been a bargain for the insurance company.

So, anyway, if you are curious, that's what it's like to get Botox.