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As my girlfriend likes to say, I’m a utilitarian guy. The sort that would fix the sink himself rather than call building maintenance; an Army vet who grew up in the countryside chopping firewood; admittedly, the sort of man who needs to be told to donate the shirt I’ve worn for ten years despite it still being “functional.” With that in mind, you might be surprised to hear that I recently tried Botox for the first time—and loved it.
Many people may view Botox as a mysterious procedure only procured by wealthy actors in Hollywood. If you are like I was, you probably can’t distinguish between Botox and filler, or any number of cosmetic treatments. You simply lump them into a category of Products For Celebrities or some other group (but certainly not for us). That view, I recently discovered, is mistaken.
A few months ago, I visited the Shafer Clinic on Fifth Avenue in New York City and received a treatment to reduce sweating in my armpits. Dr. David Shafer is a renowned, board-certified plastic surgeon who guided me through my first Botox treatment and graciously answered my many questions.
So what exactly is Botox?
Botox has become increasingly popular among men who want to look more youthful and refreshed and also has a variety of less well-known uses. Dr. Shafer explained that Botox is a quick and effective way for men to reduce wrinkles and fine lines on their face, but that it can also be used to prevent excessive sweating in the armpits, hands, and feet (a condition known as hyperhidrosis), as well as to temporarily adjust lazy eyes, prevent or alleviate migraines, and sculpt a more defined jawline. The cost of Botox will vary by how many units you need, and underarm treatment can average between $500 to $1,000. Check with your health insurance, because they may reimburse the procedure for medical purposes (such as hyperhidrosis and headaches).
Botox Cosmetic is a neuromodulator containing Botulinum toxin-A that is manufactured by Allergan. Botox was approved by the FDA back in 2002 as a way to reduce dynamic wrinkles through injections. It should not be confused with fillers, such as Juvederm, which provides structural support when injected into the face to fill lines and create volume. Botox works differently by ‘freezing’ the muscles surrounding problem areas which reduces the dynamic lines and wrinkles that form over time.
On your first visit, you will typically start with an assessment to give your provider a sense of the results you’re looking for. For a facial treatment, new patients are often numbed in the injection-site areas which takes 20 to 40 minutes to kick in; however, once patients get used to receiving Botox numbing is generally not required. Your provider will then inject you with a very small gauge needle, which takes five to 10 minutes. I opted against numbing, so the procedure took only minutes for me.
The needle used for Botox injections is minuscule, so you shouldn’t feel more than a tiny pinch. After about three to five days, you will notice the Botox starting to work and it will reach its full effect after one to two weeks. The results will last three to five months and it’s important to have your next treatment before the Botox has completely worn off to help preserve the preventive and long-lasting positive effects.
For my part, I experienced a dramatic decrease in sweating in and around my armpits and was thrilled with the results (as were my dress shirts, which no longer needed to bring a buddy to work in order to make it through the day). It has been several months since my treatment and the effects are only just starting to wear off.
So what are you afraid of?
Despite its popularity, some men still have fears about Botox and the idea of injections. However, Dr. Shafer assured me that Botox is a safe and predictable treatment when performed by a qualified medical professional. Like any medical procedure, there are potential side effects to consider, the most common of which is slight bruising and swelling at the injection site. In rare cases, patients can experience headaches (although Botox can actually treat headaches) or temporary eyelid drooping or drooling depending on the injection site (usually with inexperienced practitioners), but these side effects are very uncommon. All of these are temporary and will go away on their own. The key is to ensure you look for certified practitioners with good reviews before making any appointments.
More generally, the stigma around men receiving injectables has abated over the years. Most men are no longer afraid to admit that they care about looking and feeling their best. In fact, the Shafer Clinic has seen a significant increase in the number of men getting Botox.
As a guy who tends to avoid medical interventions and take the more “natural” route whenever possible, I certainly had my doubts about Botox. I’m much more comfortable with it after my recent experience and having spoken with Dr. Shafer—and I simply can’t argue with the results. Investing mere minutes for Botox treatment a few times a year in exchange for never again needing to deal with sweat stains and endless dry-cleaning certainly seems efficient to me. Perhaps getting Botox is the ultimate utilitarian flex.