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Keeping up appearances

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Keeping up appearances

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Most women would love to have their own personal fountain of youth. Unfortunately that’s the stuff of fairy tales, and aging, though it’s something women expect, has always brought its share of unwanted visitors. Wrinkles. Crow’s feet. Laugh lines. Neck bands. Furrowed brows.  Naturally, we love the wisdom and maturity that the advanced years bring, but  it also mean as women that our skin is less taut, more prone to wrinkles and the effects of sun. But there is hope. Botox.
Yes, it’s true more and more women are having Botox injections to regain that youthful appearance. Although perceptions linger that Botox is only for rich white people, black women, particularly the younger ones, and Indians are reversing that trend.
Botox is a trademark name for the neurotoxin, botulinum toxin. It’s made by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botox is injected directly into the facial muscles to paralyze them and reduce the sight of wrinkles.
The procedure takes a few minutes, but the effects lasts around three months, which means more patients often return for repeat treatments. Gone are the days when facial enhancement procedures were treatments only reserved for a select few.
For proof that more Black women are doing it, one need only look at the statistics. In 2008, 907,141 African-Americans had cosmetics or plastic surgery procedures.  In 2002 the number was significantly lower with 375, 025 African-Americans taking on the procedures. The rush to Botox seems to be catching locally in Barbados as well.
Why the attraction for the less invasive facial enhancements like Botox.
“A lot of white women and Indian women are doing it as well, so it’s not restricted to one race or group,” says local physician, Dr. Greg Crichlow.  “Everybody is becoming more affluent so you could understand the rise in non-invasive procedures like this. We’re progressively redefining our ethnicity and what the stereotypes are.”
But the main motivation for many women is keeping up appearances, which is very important to many of Crichlow’s potential clients.
“As a professional woman you are judged on your overall appearance, whether she is capable of doing her job, whether she’s active,” he said. “Unfortunately people assess you based on how you look.”
While Crichlow admits the procedure isn’t magic,  he too boasts the effects it has on patients physically and personally.  
“Women  want to look better, feel better, they want to have that freshness to their face. It gives you a very rejuvenated look,” he adds.  “You can look at someone’s face and see that they look better. The frown lines you get in the middle of the forehead and the crowsfeet, those are the most common areas that are done. It’s actually best to start with less (Botox) and add more. Typically I’ll do the procedure and review the person in two weeks.”
Crichlow also takes issue with claims that the procedure is unsafe. Over-injection of the drug can cause side effects such as drooping eyelid, though most complications are temporary because the effects of the drug fade over time.
“ It’s safe . . . the majority of side effects are usually related to a patient who is abusing it, or you find someone who is not qualified or using sub-standard material,” he said. “Besides it’s reversible.”
But don’t think that it’s only women who are singing the praises of Botox. Men are too, according to Crichlow.
“Men do it as well,” he says.  “They tend to require bigger doses of Botox because their skin thickness is higher. When you’re applying to a man you have to be careful because you don’t want to make them look effeminate.”
With women and men seeking to use Botox it is little wonder it has become the number one cosmetic procedure in the United States and Europe.