Is it too late to start botox when you're already over 50?

You swore you’d never get anti-wrinkle injections, but your crow’s feet keep taunting you in the mirror. Have you left it too late?

By Sabrina Rogers-Anderson

Remember when you said you’d never let your child sleep in your bed and then they slept with you till they were practically in high school? Or how you swore up and down you wouldn’t be one of those people who talks about their dog all the time, but just yesterday you whipped out your phone to show photos of Fluffy to the mailman?

You may also have sworn you’d age gracefully and never bow down to the pressure of getting anti-wrinkle injections. But the truth is people change their minds over time and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Tired of looking cranky

If you’ve been considering the idea of smoothing your wrinkles and bringing a youthful glow back to your face with botox, you may also be wondering if it’s too late. Will it even make a dent in your deep lines?

“When my husband kept asking me if I was upset with him, I realised the huge wrinkle between my eyebrows was giving me a permanently cranky look,” says Andrea. “I also had some lines on my forehead I wanted to get rid of. So, just before my 53rd birthday, I treated myself to botox.

“I was petrified I’d have that frozen, ‘she’s had work done’ type of look, but my nurse promised she'd only soften my wrinkles. Within a couple of weeks, my co-workers and friends kept telling me how rested and fresh I looked, but no one seemed to suspect what I’d done. I go back every few months now and I love it. It really boosts my confidence.”

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Still not sure whether anti-wrinkle injections are right for you? Let’s answer all your burning questions.

What is botox?

Botox is made from botulinum toxin type A, a toxin that causes a serious type of food poisoning known as botulism. But when it’s purified for use as a cosmetic injectable, botulinum toxin type A isn’t harmful.

Botulinum toxin type A is sold in Australia under the names Botox and Dysport. When it’s injected into facial muscles with a needle, it relaxes the muscles and prevents them from contracting to form fine lines and wrinkles on the skin.

It’s also used to treat a range of medical conditions, including muscle spasms, excessive sweating and migraines.

What parts of the face can botox be used on?

Botox can be used to treat fine lines and wrinkles:

  • On the forehead
  • Between the eyebrows (frown lines)
  • On the bridge of the nose (bunny lines)
  • In the outside corners of the eyes (crow’s feet)
  • On the throat (turkey neck) 

Some areas - including between the eyebrows, around the eyes and around the mouth - must be avoided or injected carefully to avoid eyebrow or eyelid drooping or a crooked smile.

What is the best age to start anti-wrinkle injections?

“Everybody ages differently, so the ideal age is when you’re ready,” says Registered Cosmetic Nurse Jodi Mullins.

“Within my practice, the average age I see women starting with preventative anti-wrinkle injections is in their late 20s to early 30s.

“But it’s important to note that if your lines don’t bother you, there’s no need to interfere with their natural progression.”

Is it too late to start after 50?

Anti-wrinkle injections block the mechanism which contracts the muscle and therefore the overlying skin is unable to crease,” explains Jodi. “If this contraction consistently takes place for long enough, static lines are etched into the skin at rest.

“The longer the lines are etched into the skin, the lesser the chance that we’re able to relax the contributing muscles and therefore remove the etched lines. 

“But everybody’s biological timeline ticks at a different rate, so any age is a good age to book in for a consultation with your injector. They’ll let you know what results you can expect or if another treatment would be preferable.”

How should I prepare for my appointment?

Botox should only be administered by a registered health practitioner such as a doctor or nurse. Before your appointment, check the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website to make sure your cosmetic injector is registered.

Ask your injector any questions you have about the procedure and let them know if you have any medical conditions or you’re taking any medications.

What’s involved in the procedure?

A typical botox session lasts about 15 to 20 minutes with some extra time required for the pre-procedure consultation and post-procedure care instructions.

Your cosmetic injector may use numbing cream before the injection to minimise discomfort. They will gently inject the botox into your facial muscles using a very fine needle. The sensation is often compared to a minor sting, but most patients don’t consider the procedure very painful. 

What happens after the procedure?

Your cosmetic injector will give you aftercare instructions that may include not lying down for 4 hours and not exercising or rubbing the treated area for 24 hours. But you can generally go back to your normal activities right away.

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How much does botox cost?

Depending on the areas you’re having treated, the part of the country you’re in and the clinic you choose, costs can vary widely.

Botox is generally priced per unit, with a single unit costing anywhere between $8 and $25. According to SBS Insight, a single botox treatment can cost anywhere between $300 and $700.

How long do the results last?

Your anti-wrinkle injections should start to work 1 to 3 days after injection, but it can take up to 2 weeks to see the full results. 

A botox treatment lasts between 3 and 6 months on average, but results can vary from one person to the next.

What are the side effects and potential risks?

Like any other medical procedure, botox and other anti-wrinkle injections can sometimes cause side effects, but they’re usually mild and temporary. They may include:

  • Pain, bruising, swelling or redness at the site of the injection
  • Headache
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Dry eyes
  • Crooked smile

In rare cases, more serious complications can develop, including:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea
  • Allergic reaction
  • Infection

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your cosmetic injector and see your doctor without delay.

Should some people avoid anti-wrinkle injections?

Cosmetic injections aren't recommended for anyone under 18, pregnant or breastfeeding.

You should also avoid them if you have a history of severe allergic reactions, a medical condition such as asthma or heart problems, or you’re taking certain medications.

It’s best to discuss your full medical history with your GP or cosmetic injector before getting started. That way you can be confident that anti-wrinkle injections are the right thing for you.

The information on this page is general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional health care advice. Any information you find on this page or on external sites which are linked to on this page should be verified with your professional healthcare provider.

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