I do not comparison shop, which is a fine (if impatient) way to purchase a pair of jeans. But it is not the recommended approach for choosing someone to pump five syringes of hyaluronic acid and several shots of Botox into your face.
Thankfully, I’d acted hastily on what turned out to be an excellent recommendation. Maryellen Bishop is the Lead Injector at Artisan Beaute in Buckhead. She’s also a Physician Assistant, so she understands the precise locations and actions of the muscles she’s paralyzing, the nerves she’s blocking, and the wrinkles she’s plumping.
At 47, I’ve never messed with my face. I’m a staunch feminist who worries our society oppresses women by placing outsized value on outer beauty and youthfulness. I’ve also been frightened by frozen faces I’ve seen on social media. And, frankly, I haven’t been sure I wanted to put a toxin, produced by the microbe that causes food poisoning, in my face.
My laugh lines don’t bother me; they’re a reminder of happy times. But I do not like the two vertical lines between my brows that experts call “the 11s.” When I’ve tried to release the creases by raising my brows, I’ve made my hereditary forehead lines even deeper. And that has bothered me.
Meanwhile, I’ve noticed a lot of my younger friends getting Botox and other injectables in their 20s and early 30s as a means to prevent signs of aging. Experts say this is a nationwide trend.
So I decided to give it a shot (ahem). Bishop, who was surprised to learn I had not even looked at her Instagram page, gave me plenty of opportunities to run as she inspected my face and suggested what to plump and what to relax. But once I was in her comfortable exam chair, I was committed.
An assistant tapped my left shoulder to distract me from the light ouch of the lidocaine injections in my upper cheeks, between my brows, on my chin, and at the middle of my hairline. Then Bishop injected the filler, sending a tiny, blunt-tipped, flexible wand called a micro cannula under the surface of my skin to spread the hyaluronic acid, which naturally occurs in the body and brings moisture to the skin. This technique, which was mildly painful, is said to be safer than a needle and cause less bruising. The filler can last anywhere between six and 18 months.
Bishop then injected the Botox, which typically takes about four days to kick in and wears off in between three and six months, between my brows and my forehead.
I will admit that my husband and I both worried I might end up looking like Dudley Do-Right. But after just a couple of days of discomfort, hot skin, minimal bruising, and tightness—and once the Botox began blocking my brows from meeting in the middle—my friends noticed that my skin looked naturally radiant, bouncy, hydrated, and downright luminous.
That was nice, but what was most important was that I felt like myself, just fresher, and good in my skin.