An astounding 90 percent of the 17.5 million cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2017 were minimally-invasive. And, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 7.2 million of those were injection procedures, including Botox, which is a two-percent increase over the previous year and an 800-plus-percent increase over 2000.
That makes injection procedures both the most popular type of minimally-invasive treatment being performed today and the fastest-growing. The latest reason for the rise is an influx of younger patients opting for preventative treatments sooner rather than later. Only five years ago, it was largely unheard of for someone in their mid-twenties to seek preventative Botox. Today, it’s fairly commonplace.
But, is there such a thing as starting too soon? Or, conversely, too late?
What exactly is preventative Botox?
First, preventative Botox is, basically, using Botox to stop wrinkles before they start. Botox is FDA-approved for everyone 18 and older, but using it on anyone that young for that reason is unheard of.
We develop wrinkles because, over time, skin weakens and can’t effectively bounce back from the various and countless facial expressions we make every day. Typically, a dermatologist will recommend treating wrinkles by first using a topical retinol product to stimulate collagen, strengthening the skin, and then using a neuromodulator like Botox to relax the facial muscles and prevent them from constricting and wrinkling the overlying skin.
Preventative Botox just starts that process earlier on. Botox specifically prevents wrinkles caused by muscle movements, like the parentheses on the sides of your mouth, those horizontal lines across the forehead, and crow’s feet. So dermatologists can usually tell if and where you might need preventative Botox just by looking at your face.
Say you furrow your brow a lot—when you’re thinking, when you’re reading from a screen, when you don’t even realize it. With a very precise and discrete placement, preventative Botox can be used to help retrain your face to no longer do that, lowering the chances that you’ll develop those dreaded dueling—and permanent—wrinkles between your eyebrows.
So, what’s the right age to start?
The case for starting Botox treatment at any early age, say 25, is fairly simple: The earlier you start Botox, the better since it’s best suited as a preventative measure. But it’s more appropriate to gauge a starting point by need than by a hard and fast age.
There are also a couple more pressing factors than age that need to be considered, like the amount of sun you’ve been exposed to over the course of your life and your skin tone. Caucasian women who’ve protected themselves fairly well from the sun usually do best when they start Botox around 35 or even 40. If they’ve seen more sun, maybe 30.
And the appropriate age to start Botox tends to be a bit higher for darker skin tones, more like 40 or 45. But, again, other factors, like sun exposure and whether there’s a history of smoking, need to be considered.
Maybe the simplest way to determine if you’d benefit from preventative Botox is to pay close attention to your reflection in the mirror. When those lines that crop up when you smile, or frown, or furrow your brow start to linger at rest, that’s a good time to consider getting your initial Botox treatments.