Saturday, March 26, 2011
Feature: Is Botox poison or pleasure?
Botox, once the preserve of middle-aged ladies with just a little too much cash, has become increasingly popular among men, particularly gay men. But what’s it like? Does it work? And what does the growth of the practice tell us about the gay community? Tim Davies went to the Private Clinic in Harley Street to try it out.
Walking up Harley Street to visit Dr Gupta at the Private Clinic, I was wondering if I was taking my pursuit of a journalistic story just a little too far. Should I really let someone inject poison into my forehead just to smooth out some minor, but noticeable wrinkles? It certainly seems to be a growing trend within the gay community. If I’m honest, I was also tempted by the fact that Botox has been shown to reduce migraines as a side effect.
I had met Dr Gupta briefly before. Sharing a mirror, we looked at every line on my face. I spotted some lines I had never noticed before.
When I returned to see him, Dr Gupta asked me if I was sure I wanted to go ahead. I replied saying that given the treatment was only temporary, even if I hated it, it wouldn’t be permanent.
After signing some forms, I was lying on a bed waiting for the Botox to be injected. There are some risks having Botox injections. The most common is that that the Botox causes your eyelids to droop, which can last for months and be a pretty obvious sign that you’ve joined the legions injecting poison into themselves. I felt relatively confident that as I was having the procedure performed by a doctor that the risk would be reduced somewhat than if it were by a “Botox practitioner”.
The actual procedure took seconds and it didn’t hurt. The Botox takes a few weeks to take effect, so if you have it done, don’t expect to walk out the door looking years younger!
A few weeks later, good to its word, the Botox kicked in. Some wrinkles on my forehead and a tendency to raise an eyebrow disappeared. It wasn’t a radical change, but I did look younger. But I was worried that it did look a little unnatural. While no one particularly noticed, I realised I couldn’t quite raise my eyebrows as much as I used to.
One of the appeals of having Botox at the outset was the potential for it to prevent wrinkles by stopping the face adopting bad wrinkle-forming habits. This works in theory but it requires you to come back on multiple occasions and it’s not that cheap!
What pleasantly surprised me about the treatment was the considerable impact that it had on my head pain, something that I want to repeat on the NHS.
Dr Gupta said that around 45 per cent of his patients are male, many of them gay. Although everyone wants to look younger, the motivations of why people come vary significantly. Some guys simply want to look younger, to make themselves look more sexually attractive. Others do it for professional reasons, particularly if they work in the City. While in the old days, grey hairs and wrinkles were a positive means of promotion, they are now considered to be a negative, so many guys seek to hide away the signs that they are no longer go-getting whizz-kids.
So would I go again? Maybe. I’m not in a hurry but I wouldn’t rule it out.