"Mild" Botox?
June 15, 2015 9:39 AM   Subscribe

I got botox for the first time two weeks ago and was looking for information from people who have more experience with it than I do. I like the wrinkle-reducing results, but have pretty much zero movement in my eyebrows and forehead, and am wondering if it's possible to do a mid-way treatment in the future, where I would have less wrinkle-reduction, but more movement.

I'm a 38-year-old woman, and got injected by a plastic surgeon primarily for frown lines between my eyebrows (glabella), although he also did a few injections for forehead lines. In the first visit he did 20 units in the glabella, and 16 in my forehead, which resulted in a lot of improvement in the glabella (I tend to furrow my brow A LOT, so I have a pretty deep line there).

I wasn't originally really worried about the forehead lines at all, but agreed to injections for them because I thought maybe it would look weird(er?) if I just did the glabella and nothing else. After a week, I felt like I had an "angry" look (high, arched eyebrows. I've seen it described in other forums as "Spock eyebrows,") so I went back and asked for a few more units to lower the outside of my brows.

On the follow up visit, the doctor seemed impressed that I had gotten so much of an effect from the 20 units in my glabella (he commented, "There's no movement at all!"), and did the additional units to lower my eyebrows, but seemed surprised that I wanted that. He said, "A lot of people like that look." He was originally going to inject 6 additional units, but I asked if we could just start with 4 and see what happens, and at this point, three days later, four seems more than adequate.

I'm in a helping profession and it's important to me to be able to look sympathetic and caring. Although I definitely like having less of a "furrow" between my eyebrows, which I feel really ages me, I'm concerned about how being unable to move my forehead will affect my clients. I doubt it's anything others would notice, but it bothers me, and I feel like being able to visually express my feelings is a big part of my life (which is probably why I have the furrow in the first place).

So, I'm wondering if it's possible to get fewer units of botox in the future and still have SOME wrinkle reduction while maintaining some movement in my forehead, or if it's really just an all-or-nothing thing. Also, if I just did the glabella and not the horizontal forehead lines, would that look strange? Would that improve my ability to move? It seemed like I still had a decent amount of movement before he did the corrective injections, although again, the angry (high) eyebrows did not work for me at all. I would discuss this further with the doctor, but I feel like his perspective on this is very different than mine, and that he is used to people wanting the maximum effect, so it would be difficult for him to understand what I'm asking.
posted by Badgerbash to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
So, I'm wondering if it's possible to get fewer units of botox in the future and still have SOME wrinkle reduction while maintaining some movement in my forehead, or if it's really just an all-or-nothing thing.

IME no it is not. I won't get forehead/overeye botox because I hate the expressionless-upper-face look. My doctor did it once for me with a very light hand because I was so uncertain of whether or not it would be for me, and it was still way too much, my eyebrows didn't move AT ALL for like 3 months. I limit mine to 3-4 shots beside/below each eye for crow's feet prevention and I'm always really happy with the results. I would never get an eyebrow lift because I have seen what it looks like in celeb photos, they tend to look like furious birds of prey.

You should definitely discuss this with your doctor at length, though. When you're getting the shots, the doctor should be asking you to make various faces/expressions/frowns/etc so they can see where the shots should go. Do this with them while looking at yourself in a mirror and ask what expressions you will no longer be able to make once the shots are administered and go from there.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2015

It's totally possible but it just doesn't last as long and can be a little more pricey since you have to go more often to maintain the relaxed look you like... Google baby botox
posted by catspajammies at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2015

OK, I'll out myself as a Botox user. [I would use a surprised emoticon, but ....].

In short, it IS possible to have botox AND movement in your forehead at the same time. This is the effect I go for: I don't want my forehead to be a cinema screen. The thing is, I don't know exactly what they do to allow movement to be retained. I *think* it may have to do with only injecting it a little bit above the brow-line (and not going higher up), but don't quote me on that.

As for the Spock thing, I've had that given to me before and I went back and said "NO" the next time. I don't at all understand that look. At least on myself.

All of this is to say that you should be able to get exactly the look you want with a competent/experienced doctor.
posted by Halo in reverse at 10:01 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, I got botox on my glabella and forehead a few times last year- the first was baby botox with movement and I liked it but not how fast it wore off, then I had baby Botox again, then 3
Months later a full dose... Then I got pregnant and haven't had it since... It's been almost 9 months and my forehead and glabella are much more relaxed so in the future I think I'll have the full dose twice in a row but then take time off... That's how I plan to have the relaxed with movement look most of the time as opposed to lots of visits.
posted by catspajammies at 10:06 AM on June 15, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you for the quick responses! A follow-up question - I know it usually takes 3-4 months for botox to wear off (at least if you haven't been using it for long)... how long should I expect to have no movement? Will there be a point maybe a month from now when movement starts to return?
posted by Badgerbash at 10:39 AM on June 15, 2015

I have such a strong "frown" response that I can still frown through glabellar Botox if I try or am really irritated (I am a bit younger than you, and got 0.5ccs in the glabella, which isn't a high dose and got me the effect you're looking for). What I don't do anymore is reflexively frown when concentrating or whenever I'm anxious or frustrated. Or get icepick headaches between the eyes from frowning all the time.

Because I didn't do horizontal lines, I had minor "Spock brow" for a few weeks the first time, but my doctor explained to me that sometimes that's your face figuring out WTF is going on. (She was right in my case and I haven't needed touch ups to drop the lateral brow.) I also have hooded eyes and epicanthic folds. Frowning as much as I did had been disguising the fact that I was always unconsciously lifting my eyebrows to lift my lids and lashes from shading my eyes. Botox has trained me out of doing that, because that DOES look weird when you're doing it all the time without the opposing muscles keeping your arches from...arching like mad, rather than when you actually intend to make an expression.

IIRC from my research, the effect of Botox peaks (on average) at 60 days and wears off from there. I get it every 3-4 months.
posted by Naamah at 11:05 AM on June 15, 2015

in my experience the movement started to return after a couple of weeks... But maybe that varies because I have extremely strong forehead muscles. Perhaps if you're really frozen at the moment it will start to wear off and when you think that it's just about right take a video of yourself so you can show the provider what you're after....
posted by catspajammies at 1:30 PM on June 15, 2015

(That was movement after the baby Botox was after a couple weeks)
posted by catspajammies at 1:41 PM on June 15, 2015

I recently had my first botox treatment for chronic headaches (my smooth, placid forehead and inability to move my left eyebrow are just side effects). My neurologist told me that if I had problems like eyebrow paralysis, to let him know, and he could adjust the locations of the injections to try to avoid that the next time around.

Medical botox for headaches is, I'm sure, different in many ways from doing it cosmetically, and I haven't had my second treatment yet to see if my neuro can successfully make this adjustment, but I thought I'd toss this in as something you might want to ask your doctor about next time.
posted by not that girl at 3:49 PM on June 15, 2015

Yes, "mild botox" is possible. I'm 42 with a pronounced glabella furrow, and too-much-time-in-the-sun-as-a-kid wrinkles everywhere else. I use my face a LOT to express how I'm feeling, and how I'm reacting, in both work and social contexts. I don't want to be wrinkle free, I just want the wrinkles to be softer. I first started with botox at 35.

To get the result that you want, you need to have an experienced practitioner, and you need to be very clear about what you want.

Very clear. And even when you think you're being clear, be clearer. I moved to the US from the UK recently and learned the hard way that UK "natural" (i.e. still having eye wrinkles when I smile, and still having forehead wrinkles when I'm skeptical) is not the same as US "natural" (i.e. still some semblance of movement but minimal visible wrinkles). I wasn't happy with the first attempt, it was too much - luckily it faded after a couple of months... My practitioner has been very receptive to feedback and we're now in a good place where she knows exactly what I want and delivers it, but it took a very forthright conversation to get to that point.

* glabella without forehead = weird look, don't go there
* spock look - I've never seen or experienced that (but I'll add that to my directive to my practitioner as something I really REALLY want to avoid)

In the meantime, explore the options that your face presents! So you can't furrow your brow to express disapproval? But you can still narrow your eyes and purse your lips just a little bit. So you can't raise your eyebrows to express surprise? Widen your eyes to their greatest extent, and you get the same result.

Ultimately, if you feel that your practitioner is not understanding you (and from what you've said, they clearly don't), then find someone else. Most places will do a free consultation. I did the "free consultation" thing at 3 places before I selected my current practitioner. And even then she screwed it up a bit the first time. The other two I didn't feel comfortable with at all - I didn't feel that they listened to me and understood what I was asking them to do, I felt as if they thought they knew what was best for me and that didn't play well with me so I rejected them. Be a demanding customer, don't let them tell you what you need. Tell them the look that you want.
posted by finding.perdita at 3:14 AM on June 16, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you again, everyone! I think when this round does wear off I'll specifically ask for "baby" botox, and yes, take a video at the point in the process where I'm most satisfied with the mix of fewer wrinkles/facial movement (maybe I should start doing videos along the way to keep track for myself as well).

I'm considering trying another doctor next time, and explaining my experience this time around. I think the doctor I used was fairly reasonable, but maybe just more gung ho about things than I want, and perhaps trying someone else to compare would be helpful.

Again, thanks for the input, it helps tremendously.
posted by Badgerbash at 9:29 AM on June 16, 2015

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