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February 09, 2021
Any doctor or dermatologist will tell you that the most popular treatment patients ask for is Botox! And with good reason. The results that patients get in smoothing out lines and wrinkles on the forehead and around the eyes is unrivaled by any over-the-counter product. What’s more important is that it is widely considered safe. A study published in 2014 in U.S. medical journal JAMA Dermatology found an average of one negative side effect for every 3,333 procedures. Plus, because it’s a prescription-only medicine, it’s more tightly regulated than dermal fillers or laser treatments.
According to a Time report, botox is a neurotoxin derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Ingested in contaminated food, it can interfere with key muscles in the body, causing paralysis and even death. But when injected in tiny doses into targeted areas, it can block signals between nerves and muscles, causing the muscles to relax. That’s how it smooths wrinkles: when you immobilize the muscles that surround fine lines, those lines are less likely to move–making them less noticeable.
Now more and more people are getting Botox at younger ages. But how young is too young? Here is what dermatologists have to say:
“I don’t really believe in having preventative toxin treatments,” Maryam Zamani, MD, a consultant at London’s Cadogan Clinic which specializes in ophthalmology, tells Refinery29. “A lot of people start in their 20s as a mechanism to ward off getting lines and wrinkles caused by movement. But in reality, a lot of people in their 20s don’t have any of those lines yet. It usually starts in your 30s.”
"For preventative measures, that typically means prevention of wrinkles. For this, I would have a hard time doing any Botox on a patient younger than 24 or 25 years old, and that would likely be for a patient who squints quite a bit and is at risk for developing the '11' vertical lines over the nose. Even as a write this, I feel a bit shallow and have concerns about having a patient get started on a cosmetic procedure at such a young age without them really understanding the implications." says Miami-based dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Jeffrey Epstein.
But not all dermatologists are so firmly in the “No” camp.
"The earlier you start Botox, the better since it is best used as a preventative measure to avoid getting fine lines and wrinkles. It works by relaxing the muscle; once relaxed, it relaxes the overlying skin, so you don't get wrinkles. We have a lot of patients in their mid-twenties who start Botox, which is a good age if you have an expressive face and lines." says Debra Jaliman, a New York City-based dermatologist.
"Depending on the level of sun damage, the amount of muscle movement, and whether or not the person has so called "Resting Bitch Face," all of these factors play into the decision at which age to start using Botox. So, if there was a strong frown, it may be appropriate to start as early as 20. If not so much, 30 — at the latest 35. Recent studies have shown that too much mobility in the muscles does lead to premature wrinkling," advises Ava Shamban, a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist and founder of SkinxFive.
"The earliest I've done Botox [on someone] is in the mid-twenties, and that's if someone is genetically predisposed to wrinkles on the face. Or sometimes I've also seen a person at that age who was constantly frowning and that was a good reason to do the treatment. In general, for prophylaxis, if someone is taking care of their skin I recommend Botox starting in their thirties." Says Paul Nassif, a Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon, RealSelf contributor, and star of E!'s Botched.
Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor, department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. thinks that your 40s is the best time to get botox. "The most appropriate age to start Botox will depend on the skin color and the type of lifestyle (more versus less sun). In general, Caucasian women (who were not lifeguards) usually do best when they start Botox between 35 and 40. If they were a lifeguard, maybe 30. For darker skin tones, the appropriate age to start Botox tends a bit higher, more like 40 to 45, but it will also depend on the circumstances. If someone has gotten a lot of sun exposure or their lifestyle is harder on the skin (i.e. smoker, lives in high altitudes, etc.), then it could be earlier. The chronologic age to start Botox is often irrelevant. It is more important to look at the dynamic wrinkles themselves. When the movement wrinkles on the upper part of the face start to linger after the movement has stopped — like seeing crow's feet but not smiling — that's the best time to start treatments."
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