• Darlene Walchuk

Why young people are using Preventive Botox

In recent years, the tool kit for warding off visible signs of aging has expanded to include preventive Botox, also known as "Baby Botox," which aims to soften the movement of facial muscles to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles before they become permanent.

While Botox received FDA approval to fight existing wrinkles in 2002, experts say preventive injections are a more recent trend, fueled in part by influencers on social media and advertisements targeting younger people. For many young people, particularly women, prevention has just seeped into their everyday vocabulary.

From 2000 to 2019, injections of Botox — a neuromodulator scientifically known as botulinum toxin, which blocks certain nerve signals to muscles — rose 878% in the United States, according to a report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. One possible indication that preventive Botox is responsible for some of that increase is the fact that people ages 20 to 39 made up about 20% of all botulinum toxin procedures reported in 2019.

While some dermatologists and plastic surgeons say they are seeing rising numbers of men coming in for preventive treatments, the majority of people interested in starting Botox at a younger age, they say, are women in their mid-20s to mid-30s.

But while experts say preventive Botox can be a safe and effective, they also caution against thinking that it's the norm — or the only approach to slowing signs of aging. Some people may think "if you're not doing it, you're not beautiful, and that's simply not the case," said Tina Nandi, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University. "It's an option for people to consider, but absolutely not requisite."

Understand how preventive Botox works

When you frown, smile, or furrow your brow, your facial muscles contract and crease the skin over and over. As your skin ages and loses elasticity, this creasing can leave permanent lines, so it may makes sense that softening that movement before the lines form really can do a lot to making you look better at every age.

Preventive Botox typically requires less product and fewer treatments than if you were tackling existing wrinkles. If done correctly, you should be able to retain natural facial movement where the injection was administered.

Effects typically last about three to four months, but Amalfi if you're starting in your 20s or 30s, you may be able to space out treatments to once or twice a year.

There doesn't seem to be much research on the long-term effects of preventive Botox, positive or negative. It is possible that prolonged use of Botox in traditional or preventive amounts may cause muscles to weaken over time and give skin a thinner and looser appearance. But those issues are often the result of "poor administration" and can be avoided if you go to an experienced and qualified medical professional.

Consider the potential commitment

The cost of each treatment can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to upward of $1,000, experts said. Prices depend on how many areas of the face are being treated and how much product is needed. As with traditional injections, preventive use will require continued maintenance. A one-time treatment will only result in "transient improvement ... that doesn't really affect your long-term goal of wrinkle prevention.

Do your Research

If you're interested in preventive Botox, experts recommend reading up on the procedure, having an idea of how you'd like to look and finding a qualified medical professional you trust. Then you should ask what their injection plan is, what benefit they think you'll see, and what to expect during and post-treatment.

Think Critically

Social media and the rise of youth-obsessed trends in skin care and beauty can put pressure on younger people, especially women, to start treatments such as preventive Botox. Young women should be critical about the messages they're getting about what they should look like and what sort of things they should do to make them look a certain way. You also can consider other skin-care treatments that can help delay the effects of aging.