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Sassy Mama’s Guide to Botox

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Here at Sassy Mama we’re firm believers that beauty comes from within – that all you lovely mamas out there radiate gorgeousness that surpasses any fine lines and wrinkles (not that you have any).

A while ago I remember telling someone that I would never EVER consider Botox. Like ever. I would grow old gracefully, accept my wrinkles and learn to love my lines. Three children later, I started to notice that some of those lovable lines were now concerningly conspicuous creases and I was looking permanently tired no matter how much sleep I’d managed to get (granted this wasn’t a lot but even on the odd occasion that I got a full night it still didn’t show.) I have to admit that I was now a wee bit intrigued by the thought of smoothing some of those suckers over.

Well mamas call me shallow, but when a friend recommended I see a very well respected cosmetic surgeon for a bit of a Botox ‘chat’, I thought why not. In fact I wanted to go check it out for myself and to share it with all of you (because as much as you think you hate the idea of it, I bet you’re a little intrigued too)….

It was time to take a look at beauty from the outside.

Number 1 rule of Botox – go somewhere reliable. If it’s being offered to you for some crazy (low) price or involves cutting out a coupon then don’t trust it for a second. I did my research and found Dr. Maurizio Viel (and his twin brother Roberto who is equally good) at the London Center For Aesthetic Surgery – whose name is whispered amongst those in the know – including many friends who’ve been visiting him for years and who look nothing like the terrifying Botox-gone-wrong celebrities that stare out at us from our fave weeklies. Reassured and a little nervous, mama made a booking.

I imagined that meeting Maurizio for the first time would be a little intimidating – that he’d scrutinize my face, draw imaginary purple lines all over everything that needed to be nipped and tucked before announcing that it wasn’t Botox I needed, but a full body overhaul. But in fact the opposite is true and I felt completely at ease and really comfortable. Forms filled out and my life signed away (just kidding), I was soon lying comfortably on the medical bed while he explained the procedure and examined my skin. He made a point of saying that for a Botox virgin like me he wanted to inject very little medicine and then top it up if required, which seemed like a rather healthy approach to a not-so-healthy substance. A few moments later and the first of six injections around my eyes and forehead was done, with a needle so tiny you could barely see the injection site at all after 10 minutes. Painless, no, but not painful either – a pin prick type feeling. Dr. Viel asked me to frown and smile before choosing where to administer the next dose. And before I could settle down for a well needed rest the whole thing was over – just like that.

I was expecting instant results but learned that in fact Botox takes a few days to work. One week later my forehead was smooth and I could no longer frown. but when I smiled the happy laughter lines were still there and still managed the stern look if my kids were misbehaving – perfect. And suddenly everyone was complimenting me on how well and well rested I looked, quite possibly because I wasn’t my usual frowny self. Had I had my hair done or been on holiday? Well actually no I just broke my self-imposed Botox rule. Would I do it again? Absolutely (sorry, but I do love my new look, guess I am shallow after all).

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Want to know more? We asked Dr. Viel to ask a few of your Botox questions and debunk some of those common myths:

What exactly is botox? Is it true that it’s some kind of chemical poison?
The full name of Botox is botulinum toxin, and though it’s name makes it sound dangerous, it’s is a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. The botulinum toxin is then sold under various commercial names such as botox or dysport.

How does botox work?
The botox has to be injected with the right doses and in small concentrations into the muscle. It temporarily stops the nerve cell sending signals to the muscle, i.e. it prevents movement either on the face or on the body.

How long does botox last?
If the botox is used for a face treatment it lasts around 3–4 months. For other indications such as hyperhidrosis (the overproduction of sweat) for the armpits, hands and feet, the botox actually lasts eight months to a year. Finally for migraine sufferers, this has to be injected as necessary to prevent attacks, but this usually lasts around 4-6 months.

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Is there a danger of my face being changed forever?
No, once the botox has worn off, the face will return to the original form before the botox treatment, even after several years of application.

Will I feel unwell or in pain after the treatment?
99% of patients that my brother, Dr Roberto and I have treated over the last twenty years have had no ill-reaction or pain after the treatment. There are only tiny ‘mosquito bite’ marks on the face immediately after the treatment that will fade after 20-30 minutes.

Is it possible to have botox but not look like I’ve had it?
This is the difference between the professionals with real experience and those that are just practitioners. Anyone can inject botox, but the difference is that properly trained doctors, like cosmetic surgeons, understand the anatomy of the face and the impact of certain muscles. This then helps the surgeon know which muscles to target in order to create a natural look.

Can I have botox if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
Although there are no contra-indications or evidence that it is harmful to pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers, we would never advise or agree to giving botox to pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers. This is after all a cosmetic treatment, and it should be remembered that no risks are worth it when it comes to children.

Which parts of the body can be botoxed and what for?
Botox was first discovered to help patients who have certain muscle disorders such as muscle spasticity. It helps to relax the tense muscles on the face or body, and this is injected in much larger doses than for cosmetic purposes. It’s been used for this purpose for almost three decades now. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK also recognised botox as a treatment for migraines this year; it helps relieve painful migraine symptoms in an overwhelming percentage of patients.

Another popular use of botox is the hyperhidrosis which is the over production of sweat by the sweat glands – this is a much safer and more effective method than other types of treatment, and the great advantage is that the results lasts at least one year.

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Are there any health or long-term benefits to getting botox?
There are no health benefits to getting botox just an aesthetic improvement that looks more natural.

What are the risks of going somewhere ‘cheap’ for botox?
Patients risk not knowing the source of the botox and the purity of the product. In addition, there are counterfeit products in the market, and practitioners who over-dilute the product to treat more patients with less product. In the UAE, there are actually strict regulations on who can administer botox, so beware. Ensure that your practitioner has a valid license and that they purchase the products from authorised distributors.

If I don’t like the look, can I have it reversed or do I need to wait for months for it to fade naturally?
If you don’t like your resulting look, you’ll have to wait or check with your doctor after two weeks to see if he can make adjustments, as sometimes he can even out the results. Otherwise, you may have to wait for the botox to fade over a period of three months. Therefore, it is important as a first-timer to be injected with a little less, as you can always add more after two weeks when adjustments to your results can still be made.

The London Center For Aesthetic Surgery, (+971) (0) 4 375 2393, www.lcas.ae

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