Most people know injectables like Botox treat specific skin conditions or problems, like fine lines and wrinkles or loss of volume due to age. As a reactive treatment option (meaning they’re used only after the problem already exists), injectables are undeniably effective, producing rapid results with very little downtime.
But wait – let’s put the brakes on all of this celebratory excitement about injectables for a moment. We want to tell you about another incredible benefit you might not be aware of: starting a preventative Botox regimen at a younger age.
ARE YOU MISSING OUT?
New research shows that Botox also carries significant preventative benefits. Rather than fixing problems reactively, injectable neurotoxins slow the rate at which wrinkles and fine lines occur. This, in turn, helps skin to remain elastic and plump.
The result? Your skin remains smooth, healthy, and youthful longer. Exactly how long you maintain your looks is highly individual, but patients who use preventative Botox often retain their smoothe, wrinkle-free skin well into their 40s and beyond.
But why – and how – does this work? And can it really be that simple? Ultimately, it’s all about the science of fine lines and how they develop. So let’s dive right in, shall we?
HOW WRINKLES AND FINE LINES DEVELOP
Everyone eventually develops wrinkles and/or fine lines; it just takes some of us longer to develop them than others. Most of us have an aunt, cousin, or friend, who seems to have flawless, wrinkle-free skin at 65, yet we know someone else who already has fine lines at just age 30.
If your parents, grandparents, or relatives struggle with wrinkles, you are extremely likely to struggle with them yourself. Other influences, like being a smoker or even being highly expressive (think Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows) can also increase your risk for fine lines and wrinkles.
But what’s really at the heart of this conversation is a little bit of biology. Over time, aging causes the human body to slow down the production of collagen, elastin, and GAGs. All are key elements directly influencing skin elasticity.
As this aging process progresses, skin becomes thinner and more delicate. Sweat and oil glands slow down, leading to loss of volume, dryness, flakiness, and direct cellular damage. The result is a loss of volume and fine line pitting around small muscle groups.
Smoking, chronic dehydration, overexposure to the sun, and even drinking too much alcohol ramp up these effects, especially in wrinkle-prone zones. Puffing on a cigarette, for example, puts immense pressure on the skin around your lips. Overexposure to the sun, on the other hand, directly damages skin cells while also stripping away moisture, oils, and volume.
And drinking too much alcohol? That dehydrates your skin, leading to a loss of volume which can accentuate fine lines – an effect that can remain in place long after you stop or rehydrate.
All of these influences make for a really complex picture, but here’s an even simpler explanation:
The more small muscle groups in the face are used, the higher the chance the skin will be unable to bounce back and hold its shape over time. Think of it like a “repetitive stress injury” that only impacts your skin.
You can make changes to your lifestyle, but you can’t really do anything about your genetics – and you most certainly can’t just stop expressing yourself in laughter, tears, or anger (that’s just not realistic). So let’s talk about what you can do.
HOW PREVENTATIVE BOTOX WORKS
As muscles become more lax, gravity slowly pulls them downward at rest; the same is true for your skin. Each time you make an expression, your facial muscles have to work a little bit harder to re-lift the tissue into place. A normal human with average genes eventually develops permanent fine lines or wrinkles from this increased range of movement.
If fine lines and wrinkles occur due to repetitive use and/or your skin’s inability to bounce back from small movements and expressions, it only makes sense to lessen the amount of movement in small muscle groups throughout the face.
By injecting a neurotoxin like Botox into very specific small muscle groups lying next to the sagging tissue, we can cause an oppositional force that pulls the wrinkle back into place. It’s a bit like wrapping a weak wrist with a support splint after a sprain.
Botox also slightly lessens the amount of movement in small muscle groups throughout your face. Fewer repetitive movements and facial postures also slow the rate at which fine lines and wrinkles progress. Injectables like Botox essentially “retrain” the skin to sit in a more natural, youthful position.
Have wrinkles already? Preventative Botox is for you because it lessens the appearance of pre-existing problems. Don’t have any wrinkles yet? Botox injections will will slow down the rate at which they appear by reducing the amount of repetitive strain on your skin. It really is that easy!
SO, WHEN SHOULD YOU START?
There’s no one good answer to this question because every patient is unique. Some people don’t need preventative Botox at all, while others are already developing fine lines by as early as age 20. Start with a consultation at your local medspa; they can inspect your skin and tell you whether you really need it or not.
That being said, there are recommended ages most experts agree on. Mount Sinai Hospital’s Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research, Joshua Zeichner, tells his patients to “start to treat lines when they begin to stick around at rest” (meaning when the face is relaxed). This typically happens in around the mid-20s, but may occur earlier or later for some patients.
Once you reach age 30, it becomes wiser to have preventative Botox than ever before. Collagen and elastin production have slowed significantly, making it harder than ever to bounce back from day-to-day movements. Getting in with preventative treatments like Botox can stop this process in its tracks (or at least significantly slow it down, pushing the inevitability off for a later date).
By age 40, most of us have at least one or two wrinkles. This is right about when lifestyle issues like being a smoker or spending too much time in the sun without protection begin to really make an impact. Wrinkles hang around even without positional expression, making the face appear drawn, tired, or even sallow. At this point, Botox prevents and restores the skin, all at the same time.
Here’s the real scoop: every patient is unique. Someone with naturally darker skin may find they don’t even see a hint of lines until they’re well into their 40s or 50s, while a redhead with fair or translucent skin might have wrinkles at rest by just 23, especially if they smoke. It’s best to avoid making your own assumptions and book in a consultation with your local medspa instead. You are unique, your skin is unique, and you deserve a treatment protocol that respects your individual needs!