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4 things I wish I knew before getting Botox for the first time

After years of trying to smooth my forehead lines with face-taping and retinol, I finally decided to book my first Botox appointment at the age of 32.

I got a few small bruises on my forehead after my Botox injections. Julia Pugachevsky

I was sick of seeing my fine lines and judging my past self for neglecting sunscreen. So with a discount code in hand, I shuffled into a local Botox clinic.

I had already looked up the price tag and possible side effects. Besides, because I write about skincare at work, I figured I already had the basics down.

Still, after getting briefed on all the potential risks and the aftercare instructions, there were some things that I wish I had known before I got my first jab.

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Before the procedure, the nurse practitioner had me sign a form consenting to all possible risks — including an "eyelid droop," also called ptosis. About 5% of patients can experience this, according to WebMD, with the number dropping to 1% with more experienced dermatologists.

My NP was honest with me that while it's never happened with one of her clients, some patients of the clinic had gotten ptosis in the past. If it were to happen, it would take about 3-4 weeks to improve as the neurotoxin would start to wear off.

It made me worry, because I had a choir performance, holiday parties, and family events in the coming weeks. But I realised that there's no time in my life where I have nowhere to be for three weeks, so I decided to chance it. Luckily, that side effect didn't happen to me.

Perhaps not surprising, but getting jabbed with a needle about 20 times all over your forehead leads to mild discomfort. I had two tiny bruises on my forehead and a low-grade headache two days after the shots.

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However, my NP warned me to avoid taking blood thinners like ibuprofen, which is what I had at home, as it could increase bruising. I ended up just riding out the headache because I was too lazy to buy Tylenol, but I'll stock up beforehand next time.

My NP advised me not to drink alcohol or work out for at least 24 hours. This guidance varies — some experts say you can do moderate exercise after four hours. Others say to avoid alcohol before the procedure and up to 48 hours after.

Luckily, I didn't have any plans the next day and was feeling a little burned out from the weekend, so it was a nice excuse to do nothing. Next time, I'll make sure to keep this in mind so I don't plan the injections around an event or workout class.

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I know from my past reporting that in order to have long-term results, you need to be consistent with Botox and get it every 3-4 months — otherwise, the effects fade.

Because I couldn't afford it in my 20s and was so indecisive about it once I could, I'm now starting treatments only a few years before I want to try having a child. But I learned not only should I not get Botox while pregnant, I should steer clear of it if I breastfeed and even when I'm trying to conceive, as the possible effects on the feotus are still unknown.

While I'll continue getting Botox until then, it means I might miss out on years of it, and my forehead will revert back to what it looked like before.

Luckily, Dr Stacey Tull, a dermatologist I previously spoke to, said that "even deep-set lines will eventually disappear if you don't allow the muscles to crease the skin" — it just might take longer to get there. So I can always pick up where I left off.

Honestly, it's kind of a relief: I can't imagine booking appointments in the middle of raising an infant. By then, I'm sure I (and my wallet) will welcome the break.

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