The changing face of Botox
The divisive facial treatment is 10 years old — and more Irish women than ever are going for the jab.
Happy birthday, Botox! The wrinklereducing jab officially turned 10 recently — but it doesn't look a day over one. Although it's been around for over three decades, Botox — or botulinum toxin type A, to give it its proper name — was only approved for cosmetic use by the US Food and Drug Administration a decade ago. Since then, it's become the most talked-about beauty treatment in Tinseltown and beyond — provoking as many frown lines as it famously smooths.
Nicole Kidman (44), Kylie Minogue (44) and Jenny McCarthy (39) are just some of the preternaturally youthful stars who've confessed to using the non-surgical treatment — which temporarily weakens the facial muscles to iron out wrinkles.
Now, though, regular women here are splashing out up to €250 per area to get rid of their crow's feet, too.
“In the past, Irish women were very secretive about Botox,” says Dr Danielle Meagher of the DermaFace Clinic in Dublin. “Now we have patients from all over the country and a waiting list of up to four weeks. “Most of our regulars pop in on their lunch break or on the way home from work. Meanwhile, the mummies normally nip in before the afternoon school run.”
And it seems some women aren't even waiting until the first signs of ageing appear to do something about it.
Supermodel Cindy Crawford (46) reportedly enlisted the services of Botox injector to the stars Dr Jean-Louis Sebagh to plan how she would age back in her 20s.
“I met Cindy Crawford when she was 26,” reveals Londonbased Dr Sebagh, whose clients include Simon Cowell and TV presenter Trinny Woodall.
“We agreed on how she would age, the whole concept. People don't understand: the sooner you start, the less you will do.”
It's advice echoed by Dr Mark Hamilton of the Hospital Group cosmetic and weight-loss-surgery clinic in Dublin.
“Although most of my patients are middle-aged women increasing numbers of younger women in their late 20s and early 30s are looking for preventative Botox to stop those lines appearing in the first place,” says Dr Hamilton. “Some people think that's crazy [because] they don't need it — but it's better to get a small amount at an early stage than a lot later on.”
“Once I had a 90-year-old woman come to me looking for Botox,” he adds. “There was no way it was going to work, so I wouldn't treat her, but we had a laugh about it.”
As self-confessed Botoxdabbler Jennifer Aniston (43) would say: “Here's the science bit.” Originally developed to treat muscle spasms in 1976, the world-famous drug, made by Allergan in Westport, works by blocking the signals between nerves and muscles for up to six months.
In its natural form, the toxin used in Botox is responsible for botulism — a potentially fatal form of paralysis typically caused by eating contaminated food.
Diluted to safe levels for cosmetic and therapeutic use, however, today the prescription-only drug is generally trivialised as “no more unusual than toothpaste” — as fan Simon Cowell put it.
But Ailesbury Clinic medical director Dr Patrick Treacy warns: “With the rise in popularity of Botox here, we've also seen an upsurge in people presenting with complications caused by cheap diluted or imitation Botox. Always go to a reputable clinic and ask to see the product you are being injected with.”
Ironically, though, it's not the fact that Botox is related to one of the most lethal poisons on the planet that puts some women off — it's the ‘wind tunnel’ look sported by some celebrity users.
“Overdone Botox tends to make you look a bit frozen,” admits Dr Mark Hamilton of The Hospital Group. “But it's more about where you put it than the amount injected. “Botox is not a one-sizefits- all treatment – every patient is treated differently.”
With so many miracle creams on the market, though, do women really need to resort to pumping a toxin into their face at all?
Even Cindy Crawford claims to have waved bye-bye to Botox because she finds it “scary”. “Sunscreen is the true secret to youthful skin,” says Lynn Doyle, spokesperson for DocMorris pharmacies nationwide. “If you only use one beauty product, use [at least] SPF 30 sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.
“When it comes to anti-ageing, most of us are looking for some miracle cream that will turn back the years,” she adds. “Getting into a good skincare routine while youth, and skin elasticity, are still on your side will stand to you in later years.
“Take the time to find out your skin type to ensure you're using the right products – and never, ever go to bed with your make-up on!” Now that Irish women have discovered Botox, however, what are the chances of us going back to humble Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser – Kylie's (other) anti-ageing secret?
“Botox is a lifestyle choice,” says Dr Mark Hamilton. “There's no long-term commitment – but if you like the look, you'll keep coming back.”
‘Dublin Housewives’ star Danielle, who turned up at the launch of the TV3 reality show wearing an ‘I Love Botox' T-shirt, reckons the procedure is here to stay. “I've been having Botox twice or three times a year since I was 29 and love it,” says the mum of one (32). “I've always been completely open about it – and wore the T-shirt given to me as a thank you by a patient of mine because I thought it was cute.
“It's as simple as this,” she adds. “If your wrinkles bother you, get Botox – if they don't, then that's fine, too!”
'Once it stops me getting a migraine I don't care what other people think'
Nurse Tadgh Kirby (32) from Tipperary gets 'Man-tox' twice a year to keep debilitating migraines at bay -- and jokes that its wrinkle-reducing properties are just an added bonus.
"As a life-long migraine sufferer, I would have been willing to try pretty much anything to relieve the pain. Sometimes my migraines were so bad that I had to spend two or three days in bed with the curtains closed. So when I discovered through my work that Botox could be used to treat migraines, as well as cosmetically, I figured it was worth a shot.
"I went for my first treatment at the Ailesbury Clinic four years ago -- and haven't had a migraine since. Before I got Botox, I would have to wait until I got a migraine to go to the doctor and get a prescription. Now I don't even feel that horrible pressure building in my forehead in the first place.
"When it starts to wear off after about six months, and I feel the headaches coming back, I just go for a top-up. Some of my friends have slagged me off for getting Botox for quote-unquote "migraines". And obviously it's had an aesthetic effect, too. Once it stops me from getting another migraine, though, I don't care what people think. Being wrinkle-free is just a fringe benefit!"