Summary: Botox is a lot like a rollercoaster—as you grow up, you keep asking yourself: how old do you have to be to get Botox? Much of this question, I think, comes from a certain amount of insecurity. Getting Botox too early feels like an admission of old age, and getting Botox too late seems…futile. Well, it turns out you’re not the only one wondering when a good time to start Botox might be. But the answer is far from simple and depends a lot on what you want the final result to look like.

The Right Age for Botox

How old do you have to be to get Botox? It’s interesting that we think that way, but understandable. We tend to define everything by age limits (or minimums): how old you have to be to drink a beer, how old do you have to be to vote, how old do you have to be to collect social security without a penalty? To be fair, sometimes we delineate by height—how tall do you have to be a ride a rollercoaster, for example. And while that might be pretty easy to answer when it comes to things that are set in stone (or law, as it were), things become a bit murkier when it comes to something so individual as cosmetic surgery and cosmetic procedures.

For most people, it’s pretty clear that kids should not undergo cosmetic procedure such as Botox. But, as it so often turns out, there’s a gray area here too. Some children are afflicted with a condition known as facial paralysis. And it is basically what it sounds like. At least part of the face is paralyzed, either due to trauma or a tumor or simply because the child was born with the affliction. In either case, this can make expression particularly difficult for the child involved—and as we all know, expression is a large part of being a child.

New Research Complicates Cosmetic Surgery Age Question

According to new research published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery Botox injections may actually help child patients regain some of their expressiveness. It seems counter-intuitive, of course, because according to the website of the Los Angeles cosmetic surgery experts at Westside Aesthetics, Botox is something of a paralytic itself. It turns out, Botox had been known to improve expression—such as smiles—in adults suffering from facial paralysis, but the authors of the study noted that the effects in children had not been significantly studied. So, they studied it (that’s what doctors do, and it’s kind of nice).

The new research concluded that Botox could have a beneficial effect on children suffering from facial paralysis. Of course, children are not going to use Botox to look more youthful, which is what most people use Botox injections for. And, of course, that’s when most people begin asking how old is too young—if you know what I mean. But I bring up the case study involving children and facial paralysis for a reason—and that reason is pretty simple: it depends on what you’re using Botox for and there are no set rules.

How to Tell When You’re Old Enough for Botox

There’s no line that you have to cross to start using Botox, in other words. That said, there are probably a few things you want to consider to see if you’re ready to start using Botox:

  • You have wrinkles. And not just any wrinkles—wrinkles that are caused by muscle contractions and that are pretty deep. These aren’t the same as wrinkles caused by lack of volume—these wrinkles will deepen over time and they’ll usually echo an expression you’ve made day after day. That is, if you frown a lot, you’ll get frown wrinkles, and if you smile a lot, you’ll get smile wrinkles. The wrinkles themselves are inescapable. Well, unless you use Botox.
  • You’re bothered by your wrinkles. Pretty much everybody develops wrinkles over their lifespan, but not everybody is actually bothered by those wrinkles. In order to figure out when you should start using Botox, you’ve got to ask yourself that question: are you bothered by your wrinkles? Do you think you will be bothered by your wrinkles in the near future? If you are, then Botox is a good idea. If you aren’t, then you’ll probably be okay.
  • The wrinkles you’re bothered by are those deep set ones caused by muscle tension. Look, Botox isn’t great for treating all wrinkles—and taking a Botox fixes everything approach is a good way to get a numbed up face. Botox is great for commonly deep, muscle-driven wrinkles. Whenever you develop those, you’re ready for the world of Botox.

How Old Do You Have to Be for Botox? It all Depends

Even I’ll admit, it feels like something of a cop-out to make you read all this and only give you an “it depends” answer. But that’s the truth. Look—what you’re really asking me is this: am I too young for Botox? And the answer is probably not. If you’re really bothered by your wrinkles (and they’re the right kind of wrinkles), Botox may be a great option. Many patients use Botox not to necessarily look more youthful, but to maintain the youth that they have.

So, this could be you. If you think you’re ready for Botox, talk to your local cosmetic surgeon. Many doctors didn’t think Botox would work for kids, until they started asking the right questions. If you have your own questions, you won’t get answer until you start asking.

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