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Can opting for injectables early, really prevent wrinkles?

As more 20-something clients book preventive wrinkle relaxing treatments before they start seeing fine lines, the debate around when to begin heats up

For decades, we’ve been turning to botulinum toxin injections as a way to soften and smooth out early signs of ageing in our 30’s, when time starts to catch up with even the most healthy of complexions. But recently, aesthetic and cosmetic doctors have started to see an uptick in bookings by clients that are younger with barely noticeable fine lines, if any at all.

It’s a trend that’s been dubbed ‘preventative Botox’ or ‘prejuvenation’ and has sparked a conversation about the pros and cons of beginning an injectables route where the purpose is to prevent rather than reverse lines and wrinkles.

“Preventative treatment stops lines from forming, keeps the skin smooth and helps to release tension in the muscles,” says Dr Anna Hemming,  EV Expert and Founder of Thames Skin Clinic. “It is a very personal decision whether someone wants to go ahead or wait until lines are more developed. But I would suggest that the best time for treatment is before dynamic lines (lines or wrinkles in the skin that appear with muscle movement) become static (lines that are present at rest).”

However, EV Expert Dr Nestor Demosthenous, who specialises in non-surgical facial rejuvenation and reconstruction from his practice in Edinburgh, feels that early intervention isn’t always warranted. “I don’t care so much what someone wants, but why they want it,” he contends.

“If you have no lines but are worried about how you’re going to age, then starting on that neurotoxin journey is pointless as you won’t see any obvious results.” Instead, he advises taking a more pro-active approach to staving off fine lines with a smart skincare routine before even thinking about in-clinic procedures.

“We have seen a number of pre-30 year olds coming for injectable treatments, but what they get is a talking to about starting with good skin health,” he says. “That means a skincare regime including sunscreen and vitamin c, then later on a retinol product. The reason we get expression lines as we age is not simply that the skin is folding as it moves, but because the skin that’s folding is thinner and there’s less fatty tissue as you get older.  The healthier your skin, the slower these lines will start to form.”

But if Instagram is anything to go by, a pragmatic approach isn’t necessarily discouraging those who want to mimic the filtered, photoshopped appearance of their favourite social media influencer or reality TV star.

The key then, is managing expectations and getting the best advice to make an informed decision about booking in or waiting until a later date. Remember, mainstream as it may now seem, having a muscle relaxing injection is still a medical procedure, a long-term financial commitment and is not a Benjamin Button magic spell.

“It is important to have an honest discussion with your medically-trained practitioner to make sure they understand what your expectations are and be confident that they are able to provide this for you,” underlines Dr Hemming.

“Take advice about whether your desired expectations will be met and whether it would be better to wait until the muscles and lines are further developed. Your practitioner should look at your expression before any injections and take pictures too.”

Dr Nestor agrees and offers a caveat. “When you do start to see the first lines appearing in your late 20’s, by all means have a little bit of toxin every six months to a year, but it has to go hand-in-hand with great skincare,” he advises. “Think of it like seeing a personal trainer: a session once a week is great, but it’s what you do either side of that which is crucial.”

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