When someone whispers that they recently had "some work done," right away the questions start: What was it really like? Did it hurt? Where did you get it done? How much did it cost? But even today, in our youth-obsessed world, people are reluctant to talk about the procedures. So when someone starts talking, we listen.
Several members of the Lifestyle staff recently had some sort of cosmetic procedure. Nothing too invasive, but maybe it's something you've been thinking about. Well, here's the dirt. The good, the bad and the painful of cosmetic procedures.
Amy Bertrand, 36, Lifestyle editor
Thank you, Dad, for the genetically produced permanent furrow on my brow. I've had it since my early 20s, and it's always been a source of frustration for me.
I tried bangs, but they were actually too hard to keep up, so I thought I'd try Botox. I entered this endeavor with equal mixes of excitement and trepidation. Excitement: I'd finally be rid of those frustrating creases. Trepidation: What if I did like it? It would be expensive to keep up. And though I've generally been against cosmetic surgery, this may be the start of a 180 for me. Maybe I'll become an addict. A Kathy Griffin wannabe.
So after seeing a flier for a spa at my sons' school, I called Dr. Stanley Librach at Beyond the Face Spa in Chesterfield, Mo., last month.
During his consultation with me, I felt both more nervous and more relaxed (is that possible?). He talked with me about my hopes and expectations, and he explained to me what Botox could do for me. We then agreed on the area to treat. I would have liked to have done my whole forehead, including the 11's between my eyes (well, really mine are more like 111's), but cost was a factor, so we decided I'd get the most bang for my buck out of just the main part of the forehead.
An injection of Botox delivers a small amount of botulism toxin into the facial muscles. The toxin blocks the chemical messenger from the nervous system to the muscle, so it can no longer retract. When the muscle relaxes, the skin over it smoothes out and softens, so wrinkles don't look as deep. Librach said that a year ago he would have told me Botox is 100 percent safe, but with recent studies showing that long-term use can cause muscle atrophy, he can no longer make that 100 percent claim. Thus, the fear.
What it was like - The entire procedure lasted maybe a minute. I stood; he stood in front of me. He injected me five times with a tiny insulin needle. The sticks felt like mosquito bites. And I was done. No bruising, no discoloration, no holes in my head.
The results - Librach told me it would take three to four days to see results. On the fourth day, I could see a difference. A week later, I could really see a difference. A couple of creases were still there, but they weren't as deep. I felt confident and beautiful. The results should last at least three months, and Librach says some last as long as eight. And though I can still move my eyebrows up and down, my forehead is mostly immobile.
Cost - Librach, who also works as the medical director at Aurora Medical Spa in Des Peres, Mo., Smooth Reflections in O'Fallon, Ill., and Oxygen Spa in Des Peres, charges $10 a unit (a very reasonable price). My forehead needed 15 units for $150.
Would I do it again? - Though I loved the results, I realized that those furrows on my brow are a part of me. They make me who I am, and I think I've decided that I'll keep them. But I reserve the right to change my mind 10 years down the road.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL
Debra D. Bass, 37, fashion editor
There are many ways to remove hair from inconvenient areas, and I have tried everything I can think of at one time or another - waxing, cream depilatories, electrolysis, shaving and threading.
I finally opted for an expensive laser hair removal regime because I vaguely remember hearing good things about the procedure, but I find it odd that I can't remember from whom. I did some research online, and I knew it wasn't a miracle cure, but because I had exhausted every other option and still wasn't satisfied I figured, "Why not?"
However, I wanted to err on the side of caution. Because I'm black with a cocoa complexion, I didn't want to experiment with any visible regions of the body.
I decided on my underarms because it's just such an annoying area for hair growth, and I don't do that Julia Roberts no-shave thing. It's exponentially more annoying because there's always a hair shadow under my arms after I shave because the pigment of my hair is so much darker than the light tan skin of my underarms.