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How To Train Your Face With Botox

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The Violet Files

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In a quest to ease TMJ tension and sculpt her features, VIOLET GREY’s senior art director gives functional Botox a shot.

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At 31, I have countless friends of all ages who get Botox regularly. But for wrinkles. And, not to brag, but I’m not there yet. My mom, who is well into her 60s, doesn’t have any. She has seemingly maintained her lineless complexion practicing a very basic drink water/wear sunscreen routine for most of her life. I only recently got her hooked on the Augustinus Bader cream.

That said, I'm up for trying almost any beauty treatment—apart from Botox. I was never sold on the wildly varying results I saw up close, and am not interested in having my eyebrows frozen in the middle of my forehead. And without real wrinkles, why risk it? Then recently, a med-spa doctor pointed out how my TMJ—the jaw muscle tension that started a couple of years back—was expanding my jaw and changing the shape of my face. Insert car-screeching-to-a-halt noise here. Excuse me? My jaw is getting wider?

This spiraled into many late-night Google searches for TMJ and muscle relaxation treatments, and I started to see Botox—categorized as functional Botox (versus cosmetic Botox)—as a recurring theme. I booked the next available appointment at GoodSkin on the recommendation of two close confidants and worked my jawline with the Jillian Dempsy Gold Sculpting Bar in the meantime.

The Brentwood office of GoodSkin turned out to be one of the most comfortable med-spa offices I had ever been to. I made fast friends with another patient in the waiting room over my Teva-style sandals from The Row (highly recommend the Barneys outlet in Cabazon if you’re visiting Southern California). The space felt like a very cozy parlor with its dark walls, plush leather chairs, nice chandelier, and all the beverages you could ever want (I had still and sparkling water, because why not?).

When the time came, Alex Saffa, RN, walked me into the treatment room, which felt like a comfy executive office with a soft couch, a nice view of West LA, and some equipment you hardly noticed. As we sat at her desk, she asked me what I was looking for. I wanted to know more about their approach to Botox and fillers. “What we do here is a light touch, mostly preventative,” she explained. “We don’t want you to look different or plumped and filled. If anything, it’s just a well-rested, refreshed version of yourself.” Who doesn’t want that?

I came for the TMJ and also brought up that slightly lazy eye I mentioned in my previous lip fillers story. Alex explained that I could retrain my facial muscles to lift that eyebrow so it wouldn’t feel like it was resting on my eyelid—something that makes me feel tired even when I’m not. And this would create symmetry. To treat my TMJ, one dose of Botox would help relax the overworked masseter muscles in my jaw and get them back to their normal state. I opted for a small dose in my neck as well to release tight muscles and soften tech-neck lines. (This application can also help treat migraines, which I happily don’t suffer from.)

On a pain level, Botox is a walk in the park compared to lip fillers. GoodSkin does not use numbing cream, but they do offer laughing gas, which I gladly accepted. Alex also iced the treatment areas before the injections. During the process, she kept me distracted, and five minutes later, it was over. She suggested a follow-up appointment after two weeks to ensure the Botox has settled in the right places.

I noticed the difference immediately. I looked refreshed, and my right brow was lifted. The tech-neck lines on my neck softened and continued to do so dramatically over the next few days. The weeks following, my eyebrow continued to lift and settle into place. When I went back for my exam, I had every intention of getting a top-up in my neck and around my eyes, but I was so impressed with the results that I held back.

Overall my face looked like it does waking up on a Saturday morning after eight hours of sleep and drinking water, not tequila, the night before. The botox allowed my jaw to relax, which in turn helped the tension in my neck and shoulders. And my jawline, indeed, seemed slimmer. Consider me a Botox convert: I came for the tension relief. I stayed for all the extra benefits.