If you love to have fun in the sun or are a very happy person who laughs a lot, that’s great. But what’s not great is that your face will age first.
“Exposure to the sun [for a long time] makes the skin dry and causes wrinkles,” says Dr Luiz S. Toledo, consultant plastic surgeon, Mercato Family Clinic, Dubai.
Leading a healthy life, such as not smoking, eating nutritious foods and exercising, he says, helps to some extent in controlling wrinkles. But ageing cannot be stopped and people tend to get frown lines on their forehead, crow’s feet around the eyes (from smiling and laughing) and neck bands under the chin.
Botox is a great favourite among people wanting to smoothen out these creases. A muscle relaxant, Botox is injected to relax (and ‘freeze’) the muscles of the face. However, if too much of the toxin is injected, it will give a person a frozen expression or a shiny face.
Botox is basically a purified form of toxin that is produced by Clostridium Botulinum bacteria. The toxin causes food poisoning (botulism) in its natural form and temporary muscle paralysis of the body if eaten in a large quantity.
Doctors have utilised this property of the toxin to paralyse the muscles in various forms of medicine and in the past two decades it has been used in cosmetic medicine.
In the early 70s it was being tried to treat crossed eyes. An ophthalmologist found a huge decrease in frown lines on a patient who was receiving the injections. He then teamed up with a dermatologist in 1989 to treat frown lines and laugh lines.
According to Dr Toledo, people in their 20s or 30s are also getting Botox shots for smoother skin. We asked him some questions on how the procedure is done and who should get the cosmetic jab.
Where is Botox used and for what?
Botox is used for wrinkles in the forehead, the lines you get when you frown. Crow’s Feet, lines around the eyes, and to lessen the appearance of chin bands. Chin bands or neck bands occur when the muscle on either side of the front of the neck loosens and hangs down. A Botox relaxes the bands so they do not protrude outward.
How long is the procedure?
Depending on how many shots are needed, it usually takes a few minutes and about two or three injections. A local anaesthetic is used and the needle prick is not painful. The needle is very fine and long. The person administering should know exactly what to do and which muscle is being treated. No hospitalization is needed.
How much does it cost?
Depending on how many injections are needed, something between Dh 1000 to Dh 2500 per session. Botox injections are also given for non-aesthetic purposes, such as to people suffering from excessive sweating in the feet and hands. This procedure would cost Dh 4000.
How long does it last?
It depends on person to person, but usually the effect lasts for between 4 to 6 months. After 6 months the wrinkles will return, so regular maintenance is needed (such as a top-up injection) to stop the ageing process. You will need to come back for another treatment so the wrinkles do not continue to become worse.
When does the Botox injection start working ?
You will notice its visible effect in about four days. Meanwhile, there are precautions to be taken; do not massage the area for about four hours after the injection (to keep the toxin from moving to other facial areas before making a connection to the muscle. Also, stay out of the Sun for a couple of days.
What happens when cheaper, fake Botox is injected?
There are many Botox products manufactured in China or Indonesia. A fake shot will have no effect at all on the wrinkles. The ones which are tested and trusted are approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the US) and by EMA (European Medicines Agency). The most common approved product is one manufactured by the US company Allergan.
Which skin types are not harmed by sun exposure?
People from the Orient, with thicker and darker skin, they do not suffer as much damage from exposure to the Sun. It is usually those with lighter skin that suffer the most. There is more incidence of cancer among those Europeans who have migrated to Australia and are now exposed to the Sun.
Lastly, I would like to add that there are more men opting for a Botox procedure today. While 80 percent of our clients are women, 20 percent are men. (The celebrity who has admitted to having the Botox injections is Sir Cliff Richard, who has preserved his reputation as the Peter Pan of pop, according to the Daily Mail).
(Bone doctors say that while long-time exposure to the Sun is harmful to the skin, about 10 minutes exposure of the arms, legs and back are essential to stock up on Vitamin D, without which one can suffer from brittle bone and other host of diseases).