I've always been a huge proponent of plastic surgery. For someone who's only 23, that might sound crazy, but I see it this way: I'm a fan of anything that makes people feel beautiful — what other people think doesn't matter. So when the opportunity to get Botox at 23 came, I thought "why not?" It's minimally invasive, would be performed by an amazing plastic surgeon, and would give my forehead a little extra lift.
It really took no thought on my end, but anytime I mentioned it to others I caught side eye. "You have no wrinkles on your forehead," they would say. "How old are you again?" was commonly asked. Being in the beauty industry, however, makes me all too aware that women my age getting injectables and the like is a rapidly growing trend. This isn't just me.
Although I'm still riding the fresh wave of confidence from my newly tweaked forehead and brows, some experts argue that I began getting Botox far too early.
Because millennials getting Botox is increasingly common, I spoke with renowned New York plastic surgeon Dr. David Cangello from Cangello Plastic Surgery about the growing popularity of injectables among younger people. His advice made me rethink making Botox a consistent part of my beauty routine.
Cangello says the trend toward millennials seeking cosmetic procedures and injectables has a lot to do with the image-obsessed society we live in today.
"I think social media and selfies have really influenced the use of Botox and fillers in younger patients," he says. "Seeing celebrities such as the Kardashians, who are quite young, for example, that have done these things has really had a major impact on young people wanting to do the same."
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Botox procedures have seen a 28 percent increase since 2010, and dermal fillers have seen a 32 percent increase since 2010 in people 20-29.
Cangello doesn't think so many young people should be getting Botox. "With regard to Botox specifically, I think most responsible practitioners would agree that Botox before late 20s is really pushing it, and it should probably not be performed in people younger than that."
What's the best time to start Botox? Cangello says there's no specific age to begin, but it's important to consider whether you're getting the treatment for "preventative" reasons or "therapeutic" ones.
"Everyone is different based on genetic factors and their environmental exposures [which effect aging]," he says.
But the decision to get Botox shouldn't be taken lightly, and the reason for your treatment should be clear. I failed to clarify these reasons before my procedure.
"There are two schools of thought about when to start. It can be used as a 'preventative' treatment, before you have wrinkles, or it can be used 'therapeutically' to actually treat the fine lines once they’ve developed."
The good news for youngsters who've already had "therapeutic" Botox is that its risk of complications is extremely low — at least in the short term. For those who opt for consistent preventive Botox, other issues might occur.
"The concern with treating younger people with Botox does not stem from the risks of complications," Cangello says. "It’s more to do with what happens to the facial musculature if we start paralyzing it at a very young age and the implications of that with regard to aesthetics and function of the face over time. When a muscle is paralyzed, which is what Botox does, it atrophies over time from disuse."
In other words, inactivity of the muscle at too young of an age can result in "muscle wasting," causing the treated area to lose its function.
In certain cases, Cangello is all for the use of Botox and believes it can be helpful.
"There is no 'one fits all' approach to the use of Botox in young people. However, I think that unless someone who is young has a really hyper dynamic facial musculature, it’s best not to use Botox on them until they’re older and have actually developed signs of aging, for example, fine lines."
Though the treatment isn't best decision for individuals with facial muscles that have not fully matured, there are other uses for Botox. In those cases, Cangello has no problem administering to men and women under 25.
"I do use Botox for other purposes, however, in the under 25 age group, such as hyperhidrosis — excessive sweating in the armpits — and hypertrophic masseter muscle. This creates a wide appearance of the jaw at the angles."
Be cautious and do your research. If you do choose to begin Botox at an early age, makes sure to do it in moderation.
"I think what younger people have to consider is that starting too early might have a deleterious effect on facial expression and facial aging over the very long term if it is begun too early," Cangello warns.
I might have jumped the gun to beat my fine lines, but Cangello's advice suggests I really didn't have to. One day, though...