The Botox boom is still going strong. It has been used medically for more than 30 years, and cosmetically for around 25 years, and has proven to be very effective in both areas. Botox is about prevention; it’s designed to relax the muscles that cause fine lines and wrinkles. “Our face is made up of over 50 different muscles that all integrate and form what we call facial expressions,” explains Dr Catherine Stone from The Face Place Medspa. “Every time we frown or squint, we are effectively banging our skin together, which is breaking down collagen fibres (think of collagen as steel gutters that support our skin). When we are young, we have a lot of healthy, active skin cells that get in and repair themselves, but as we age we develop fewer skin cells, they get lazy and we are breaking down collagen faster than our skin cells can keep up with. That’s when you start to notice the fine lines creeping in.” By administering Botox – a protein – into the muscles, you are relaxing those muscles and reducing the number of messages sent from the nerve endings to the muscles that stimulate contractions and cause frown lines. “In effect,” says Catherine, “you’re not banging those fibres together any more.” Botox can be used to treat a lot of concerns, including the ‘grumpy frown’, crow’s feet, horizontal frown lines and excessive sweating. Gone are the major concerns that once gave Botox a bad name – including the ‘frozen face’. Subtle but significant is how Catherine would describe her treatments, as would many in this field, and it is what consumers want – particularly in New Zealand, where we look for a more natural, ‘enhanced’ version of ourselves.