Can You Ever Be Too Young For Preventative Botox? The Answer May Surprise You
Because you're not a mannequin or Pharrell Williams, your face changes as it ages — that's basic anatomy. How you choose to navigate the unchartered realm of nasolabial wrinkles and crow's feet, however, is entirely up to you. You can embrace them, treat them, or take preventative measures to avoid them; whatever makes you happy (happy, happy, happy. . . ).
"We are now seeing younger people seeking out Botox. There's this desire to look 'perfect' in selfies."
As for the people who fall in the latter category, the age in which they are addressing fine lines that have yet to appear is declining considerably — especially for one particular treatment: Botox, the injectable neurotoxin that temporarily paralyzes facial muscles.
"We are now seeing younger people — as early as in their 20s — seeking out Botox," dermatologist Latanya Benjamin, MD, told POPSUGAR. "There's this desire to look 'perfect' in selfies. In our practice, we've seen patients as young as 18."
The question, then, becomes: is that safe? We take a stab at that answer, and more, ahead.
Is It Safe to Get Botox When You're Young?
The broad answer is yes . . . as far as we know. Given that the FDA only approved the usage of Botox for frown lines in 2002 — and forehead lines, even later, in 2017 — that means research on its effects on the skin over a long period of time isn't yet available.
"There are no long-term studies about what Botox does for people who get it repetitively for a number of years," said dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD, FAAD. "We know it does not harm you, but it's hard to do a controlled study for what your muscle mass would have been if you hadn't done it, because it would require split face testing — meaning you'd have to inject just one side and not the other, and no one would agree to that."
The good news is that collagen — which is essentially what gives your skin that firm, youthful look — won't be affected if you start treatment early, but your muscle mass might. "Think of it as: if you don't use it, you lose it," Dr. Mariwalla said. "If you aren't using your forehead muscles after a while, they just get weaker. Over a long period of time, in theory, they get thinner, so you could start looking a little bony."
What Age Can You Consider Getting Preventative Botox?
While the age of people requesting Botox has been getting younger and younger in recent years, both Dr. Benjamin and Dr. Mariwalla agreed that your late 20s to early 30s are a good time to consider the procedure, assuming you've been taking care of your skin along the way. (Dr. Benjamin defines this as "proper cleansing with a gentle moisturizing facial wash, wearing sunscreen daily, and removing makeup each night.")
"The goal is not to have any fine lines at rest, so you can do a little when there are a few lines, but go easy."
A good way to tell if you're ready for Botox is to note how many fine lines you see on your forehead, eye area, or mouth when you're not making an expression. "It's OK to be able to move your forehead," Dr. Mariwalla said. "The goal is not to have any fine lines at rest, so you can do a little when there are a few lines, but go easy — you also don't want weird forehead atrophy when you are older that then needs filler."
So, is there such a thing as getting it too young? Well, according to Dr. Mariwalla, yes. "I typically won't inject anyone under 21," she said. "Only start in your mid 20s if you have a lot of sun damage — think California surfers who have been out in the sun most of their lives — or can see visible fine lines. Movement is normal, and not something you need to stop at a young age."