Botox is mainly injected on the forehead and around the eyes. It doesn’t fill lines, but it relaxes the muscles underneath that cause them. There’s a technique to injecting it properly, and if it’s done incorrectly a face can become temporarily lopsided or one eyebrow can raise higher than the other. A bevy of doctors sell Botox as an add-on to their other specialties. It’s widely available in dentist and gynecologist offices, and an MD can get qualified to administer it by taking short full-day course. The widespread availability of Botox has fueled its popularity, which has grown to record proportions. In recent years, what started out as a treatment for existing wrinkles has become a preventative measure. Of those who use Botox, women aged 19 to 34 are the fastest growing segment. These young users have increased their ranks by 41% since 2011. Many of them reason that if their facial muscles are paralyzed now, then they won’t be able to develop wrinkles as they age. The benefits are real, but it also points to another question: is our culture developing a fear of aging? Dana Berkowitz, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Louisiana State University, has recently shined a light on this relatively new social phenomenon. Her book, Botox Nation: Changing the Face of America, was released earlier this month. It explores peoples’ motivations to use Botox and whether we are developing a stigma against aging. In Berkowitz’s book, one of the Botox users she interviewed cited the injectable as having “crack-like” effects. This mentality implies that the user is frequently eradicating even the faintest wrinkles with a few quick pricks of the needle. It begs the question, is this level of Botox use becoming obsessive? Berkowitz, who was once anti-Botox, began using the injectable as the writing of her book progressed. As an author who both uses it and documents its effects, her point of view comes from two sides. Berkowitz sat down with feminist podcast host Jessica Valenti in October 2016 to talk about her journey from anti-Botox to current user, and how that ties in with her feminist stances. She spoke about cultural expectations of how women should look. The author admits that after she got Botox, she realized how much her youthful looks impacted her self-worth. That led her to question why women feel the need to fit into media-driven expectations of how they should look. Over the course of her research, she found that Botox was touted as part of a basic wellness routine, akin to annual check-ups and a healthy diet. It begs the question though, does a cosmetic procedure truly qualify as a wellness measure? Where do we draw the line between participating in a Botox regimen to feel better, and pinning all our self-worth on looking young? Is the overly exuberant battle against aging an easy trap to fall into? The message in the end is that Botox is great for erasing wrinkles, but when it starts becoming integral to how we perceive ourselves, then maybe it’s time to take a step back. * Feature image courtesy of Oceanview MedSpa via Flickr * In-text image of Botox to Go courtesy of Christian Schirrmacher via Flickr
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When it comes to Botox, if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, you probably know someone who has. Perfectly smooth brow lines have become ubiquitous beauty standards. But is Botox becoming compulsive to some users? Over the past two decades, Botox has become the world’s most popular cosmetic treatment, and it started as an accident in Vancouver, Canada. In 1987, Dr. Jean Carruthers, an ophthalmologist, was administering a standard treatment to a patient with compulsive blinking disorder: botulinum toxin. The patient asked if Dr. Carruthers could inject it into her forehead, since it had gotten rid of her wrinkles before. Her interest piqued, Dr. Carruthers talked to her husband about it that evening. Dr. Alastair Carruthers was a dermatologist who shared an office with his wife, and he had long been frustrated with his ability to get rid of patients’ brow-area frown lines. They got their receptionist to volunteer as a guinea pig the next day, and the results sold them on the idea almost immediately. As they searched for more volunteers, the Carruthers found that people were unsure about injecting botulinum toxin into their faces. The idea spread slowly, and it wasn’t received well when they presented it to their peers at a 1991 meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. The Carruthers and other doctors continued experimenting with the treatment though, and their impressive portfolios of before and after shots grew. By 1993, injectable botulinum toxin had caught on. Fast forward to today and pharmaceutical giant Allergan produces Botox. The company has made it into more than a billion-dollar industry that goes way beyond cosmetics. It’s FDA approved to treat everything from chronic migraines to excessive sweating. But with a lifespan in the body of between three and six months, users must come back regularly to maintain results. When it comes to cosmetic benefits, many people have unrealistic expectations of what Botox can do.