Micro-Botox is the new way to smooth skin and shrink pores. (Photo:Tom Schierlitz-Trunk Archive)
You know that feeling of doom that sinks in after walking into a hair appointment to find that your assigned stylist is rocking a totally uncool style? The same can happen when meeting the person administering your Botox. If your quest for a natural-looking boost puts you in the hands of a practitioner who is shot up to cartoonish proportions, is it acceptable to run? These are the scary scenarios that played out in my mind when I thought about joining the ranks of those injected with Botulinum toxin type A, the most popular minimally-invasive treatment in the US, with more than 6.3 million injections served in 2013, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
So when I first met Cosmetic Surgeon Alexander Rivkin, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and medical director and owner of Westside Aesthetics in Los Angeles, and looked into his youthful, but seemingly untouched face, I felt instant relief. I did have to ask, “Do you shoot yourself up?” He, in fact, does — though I couldn’t tell. He simply looked healthy and well rested. “If you can tell something’s been done, then I’m not doing my job,” he says.
Still, the frozen faces of reality stars danced in my head. Would Botox hinder my ability to show disdain whenever Justin Bieber underwear commercials come on? Noticing the large pores on my cheeks close to my nose, Rivkin pointed me to a little-known Botox treatment that manipulates the way tiny muscles under the skin affect oil glands: micro-Botox.
Injected into the more superficial layers of the skin — and in wrinkle-free parts of the complexion like the T-zone, cheeks and chin — micro-Botox does not affect muscle-nerve communication to minimize deep lines on the face (like traditional Botox treatments), but instead, tightens enlarged pores, making the skin look smoother and, yes, younger. The treatment can also be used to minimize fine lines around the eyes — something traditional Botox treatments can’t tackle.
Micro-Botox injections take just a few minutes to administer. Admittedly, the needle pokes to these spongier parts of the face hurt a wee bit more than they would in, say, the forehead or between the eyes, where skin is more taut. Even so, the pain was minimal; my eyes watered as Rivkin delivered the injections with a hair-sized needle and an assistant gently tapped my shoulder with her fingers to help distract my body from the stinging sensation.
But after a few minutes, I immediately saw tighter pores and smoother skin. That night, when hitting a club with decades-old friends, they both mentioned that l looked refreshed — like I’d been catching a full nine hours a night, instead of my actual five. But for me, the best outcome has been my newfound ability to rock cream blushes, fluid bronzers and other dewy, glow-producing products on my cheeks (something that pre-treatment, would have called even more attention to visible-from-a-distance pores). And if I continue to get treatments (the results of which last about four months), Rivkin says I may also notice that my oiler-than-thou skin won’t be as greasy come summertime.
Rivkin notes that the treatment is more popular in Europe, Asia and the Middle East (where he travels to administer the injections) and has started to offer the treatment in his LA office within the last six months. The trick to finding a doctor who can perform this burgeoning treatment, is to look for practitioners with the most experience in using the micro-Botox technique. “You don’t want a doctor winging it on you,” Rivkin says. “If he or she messes up your face, then that’s four months having to walk around, looking weird.
Three months after my treatment, I’m still enjoying the benefits of smoother skin and rocking glow-inducing cream makeup to rival JLo’s signature red-carpet look. As it turns out, taking a dip in the Botox pool helped smooth my skin without affecting muscle movement. The verdict? I’m more than happy with the results, something you can tell just looking at me — expression lines and all.