Can Botox be Used to Prevent Wrinkles?

At age 24, Tiffany Rose Goodyear got her first Botox injections to treat forehead wrinkles she says she got by frequently raising her eyebrows. Five years later, she says she is still getting injections to smooth her existing lines and prevent future wrinkling.

While there is no definitive evidence that using Botox to prevent wrinkles is effective, experts say that over the last few years there has been an increase in the number of 20-something patients who are getting Botox or other injectables to try and ward off future wrinkles.

American Society for Plastic Surgeons’ statistics show that in 2010 almost 78,500 people in their 20s received Botox in this country, an 11 percent increase from 2009.

So what do the doctors think? Plastic surgeon Arthur Perry thinks the concept of trying to prevent future wrinkles is “nutty.”

“You don’t want to use a drug unless you need the drug, and Botox is a drug,” he said.

Brian Glatt, a plastic surgeon, finds that regular use of Botox seems to make the muscle-relaxing effect last longer so patients don’t need to come in as often for treatments. This may occur because the muscle undergoes atrophy, or wasting, after prolonged periods of not being used, Glatt said, which could mean that wrinkles wouldn’t form as easily on a young person who has had treatments for years.

In addition, if Botox is used regularly, the wrinkles that return when it wears off may not be as severe, said Glatt.

However, Perry feels that even if Botox was proven to prevent future wrinkles, it should not be used for that purpose. “It makes no sense whatsoever to do that,” he said.

Plastic surgeon Steven Pearlman goes by what you could call the “rest test.” He said to wait until lines show up before getting Botox. The wrinkles must be there when your face is at rest, not contorted through smiling or grimacing, he said. “Unless someone has lines at rest, they’re not a candidate for Botox.”

So what are some of the best ways to prevent wrinkles? Wear sunscreen and avoid smoking, say the experts.

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