We embrace ageing, but is there such a thing as the 'right age' to get your first Botox injection?

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Illustration. (Photo: Getty Images)
Illustration. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • Advances in technology and medical knowledge means that patients now have a range of options available when it comes to both invasive and non-invasive procedures.
  • Shorter recovery periods, less downtime (or no downtime at all) have made some of these procedures even more appealing to those who can afford them.
  • Before hitting the 'big 3-0', Afika Jadezweni decided to start taking preventative measures against ageing, asking; how young is "too young" to get Botox?
  • Leading specialist dermatologist Dr S'lindile Ndwalane, who heads up the newly opened Hyde Park SCIN practice, answered this and more questions first-time Botox patients might have. 

They say oily skin is the best defense against ageing, but when your genes have not granted you a skin type that is both a blessing and a curse, you might seek other preventative measures. 

I've always struggled with oily skin, but over the past two years or so, I finally found a hydrating serum that really works for me. Still, with the age-proof oily skin under control, it's still unlikely that I'll age 'on time' - I'm a 30-year-old who looks like she's in her early 20s. 

So you can imagine my aesthetician, Dr S'li's confusion when - about three weeks ahead of my 30th birthday - I showed up for a Botox and EXILIS face tightening consultation. My keenness for Botox, however, has always been more about the fact that I'm a bit self-conscious about my "uncontoured" eye area (damn those Snapchat filters), and less to do with ageing anxiety.

I have a visible eye bag under my left eye, but in all fairness, it's more of a clutch than a satchel. In fact, I have no visible signs of ageing and I genuinely struggled to frown when Dr S'li asked me to in order to map out any (none) frown lines on my forehead.

Overall, I'm not actually worried about ageing at all, but a little prevention never hurt. 

READ MORE: Halle Berry isn't worried about ageing as she embraces her 50s 

It is also no longer an anomaly for black women to dabble in non-invasive cosmetic procedures either in the form of Botox or non-surgical facelifts. After all, a little extra insurance on that "black don't crack" melanin warranty surely can't do no harm.

On her website, New York plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Sybile Val, confesses that she's "lost count of how many black women [she's] converted to Botox lovers," who had all been previously ambivalent about it on the assumption that black women "don’t need that!” 

Here at home in South Africa, Johannesburg-based specialist dermatologist and aesthetician, Dr S'lindile Ndwalane, agrees, saying that "there certainly has been a rise in demand in the black population - not only women but black males as well."

"There has been more education around it and with the advent of social media, black people have become more aware of it and that it’s a relatively safe procedure. This is in keeping with the global rise in demand for aesthetic treatments in general," she adds. 

Dr sli
 Dr S'lindile Ndwalane. Image supplied by Specialist Laser & Cosmetic Institute 

During my consultation, I took the opportunity to ask Dr S'li a few burning questions all first-time Botox-ers most probably have. 

This is what we learnt from the conversation: 

Is going for your first Botox treatment age-dependent or skin concern-dependent?

Both. Some people are genetically predisposed to ageing earlier than others, so they will require treatment at an earlier age. Some medical conditions and lifestyle factors like smoking also bring it on earlier. So age becomes a non factor in those cases.

The average age to start Botox treatment is usually early 30s where you start to see sign of ageing. The aim is to start early to prevent severe ageing.

Despite not having any visible signs of ageing or frown lines, is it safe for someone like me to start Botox in their late 20s to early 30s? Which age is most common?

The early 30s is a good age start and it is safe to do so. That is when the skin starts to lose elasticity and gravity begins to move the tissues downward. That is where you start seeing lines and wrinkles moving from Type 1 to Type 2.

It's a good place to start to prevent them from becoming Type 3. Type 1 is the normal lines that even children get where if you contract the muscle you see them and they disappear as soon as you relax the muscle. Type 2 is when the lines take a bit longer to disappear but still do. Type 3 is when they’re there even at rest.

Treating them earlier prevents them from becoming permanent.

Are the benefits of Botox more long lasting the earlier you start? And how often should one be going for treatments once they get started?

Yes. Any muscle that is not used becomes atrophic (thinner) and naturally less active. Typically, Botox lasts between 3-4 months. The more frequently you do it, the less Botox you need over time to keep the muscle relaxed longer.   

Aside from cosmetic concerns, what else can Botox treat? For example, I’ve heard it helps with jaw clenching.

Jaw clenching, chronic migraines, excessive sweating, cervical dystonia, muscle spasticity, overactive bladder due to a neurological condition.

Besides regular skin concerns , is ‘ZoomFace’ a real concern your patients have come to you to get treatment for during the pandemic?

Yes it is. There have been a few patients who mentioned that staring at their faces on virtual meetings has made them pay more attention to even the finest lines that they didn’t notice or have covered up with makeup.

READ MORE: 5 skincare trends that are growing as a result of the pandemic's effect on our habits   

During my consultation, Dr S'li advised me against getting dermal fillers due to the fact that I don't actually need them. Unlike Botox - which can be preventative and is therefore safe even in the absence of visible crows feet and frown lines - dermal fillers can have an undesirable result. 

Here's why...

What are the disadvantages of getting dermal fillers when you don’t need them yet?

It may cause too much plumping of the skin and give you a fuller face appearance. But the body generally absorbs what it needs and then excretes the rest. It tends to integrate into the tissues and fill where it’s needed (where there is volume loss).

So what is the main difference between fillers and Botox?

Botox is a neurotoxin produced by a bacteria that causes temporary calming of muscle contractions. Fillers are a naturally occurring sugary substance, called hyaluronic acid that is lost with time/ageing.

It absorbs and retains water which keeps the skin hydrated and plump.

Tell us about your non-surgical face lift ELIXIS technology and the benefits thereof.

Exilis is a no downtime, no pain, in-office procedure used for both combined skin tightening and non-invasive fat removal and body contouring. 

Multi-award winning, FDA approved with proven clinical results, Exilis is used to tone skin and improve skin texture while reducing fat, firming skin, reducing wrinkles and it also combats cellulite.

It is a head-to-toe treatment using radiofrequency technology. Exilis is completed as a series of sessions and delivers radiofrequency and ultrasound energy waves as heat below the surface of the skin, safely destroying fat cells, firming skin, and triggering collagen production. Popular areas include saddle bags, stomach, love handles, thighs, face, and intimate areas. 

READ MORE: Overnight flat tummy? With these 3 sought-after body sculpting procedures, it's possible if you want 

My Botox and EXILIS experience 

Before my Botox - which was in fact a non-surgical eyebrow lift - I got the Exilis treatment, which when used on the face, is a tightening remedy. You know, for that "just got my hair braided" facelift effect.  


Is it painful?  

No. It feels like a warm, high pressure massage, but it can get hot at varying degrees. When that happens, don't flinch or make sudden movements - your aesthetician will pause and adjust accordingly. 

How long does it take? 

You can use your lunch hour for an appointment if you're getting it done on your face. 

Do I need downtime? 

Not at all. I went straight to the office afterwards. The only jarring thing was perhaps for my colleagues, who had never seen my face so bare and naked before.   

How soon after will I see results? 

You will notice a slight difference as soon as you're done. As the days went by, I felt like my face was more symmetrical. It's also important to note that this is not a once-off procedure; you will need to go back a couple of times to achieve optimal results. 

*Error: Caption typo on "Elixis" instead of "Exilis"  

non invasive surgeries
botox treatment
Images: Writer's own 

READ MORE: Has the Zoom boom made us more critical of our facial quirks, sags and bags? Should we even care?

Non-invasive eyebrow lift (Botox)  

This was done shortly after the Exilis treatment. Yes, you can squeeze in two non-invasive procedures on the same day.

Is it painful?  

Well, numbing cream is applied a few minutes before you receive the Botox injections. As for the actual jab, it's nothing more than a quick prick.   

non invasive facelift
first time botox
Images: Writer's own 

How long does it take? 

I've had Vitamin B-Complex injections take longer. This part of the procedure took less than five minutes. So again, you can use your lunch hour for an appointment. 

Do I need downtime? 

No. It's simply a quick series of injections. 

How soon after will I see results? 

Honestly, as someone who is Botox-ing as a means of prevention rather than cure, there is no definitive answer for this question. But to reiterate Dr S'li; the more frequently you do it, the less Botox you need over time to keep the muscle relaxed longer (that is, visible results).

Additional information provided by Specialist Laser and Cosmetic Institute (SCIN)

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