“I think you should see someone in your hometown, New York City,” an injector told me in Los Angeles. I was mid-consultation, and she politely backed out of giving me my first injectable wrinkle reducer treatment.
She was reading into my nervous energy, I thought. It is a medical treatment involving needles. Questions swirled inside of my head. Will it hurt? Will I no longer look like myself?
The answer to both questions — I eventually learned — was no. (Though I tear up when getting my eyebrows tweezed, I don’t find injectable wrinkle reducer injections to be terribly uncomfortable. I felt the quick pinch of the needle, then went about my day. As for my looks, I started noticing smoother lines post-treatment about a week later, but my uber-observant husband couldn’t tell the difference even as my full results were visible a few weeks later.)
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects, and everyone’s experience is different. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetics specialists now.]
But the reason this California-based injector backed out had nothing to do with my slight needle phobia or concerns about my appearance. It was because she could not offer me a follow-up appointment — as I was only in town from NYC for a few days.
As it turns out, all first-time injection patients should have a follow-up appointment. “Everyone responds a bit differently to injections,” explains NYC-based, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. David Shafer (who ended up being my injector). “The first time you have injections, it’s good to be able to have a follow-up with your doctor to make sure that you have a [proper] response. At a follow-up appointment, they’ll review the treatment [and] results.”
I commend the LA injector for declining my request to get a treatment with her, as she knew she would not be able to give me the post-appointment follow-up. When I returned home to NYC, I resumed my plans to get injectable wrinkle reducers (in my forehead, elevens, and crow’s feet), but this time with a nearby doctor I knew I could see again. I ended up going to Dr. Shafer for my first treatment. His office is a 10-minute walk from mine for that “lunchtime appointment,” and his board-certifications and experience administering this treatment made me feel comfortable.
And yes, we had a follow-up after I got injected. During the appointment, Dr. Shafer checked for any adverse reactions and assessed the injection results.
Since then, I’ve had the treatment done two more times. At my most recent appointment, I actually didn’t book a follow-up. By then, I knew what to expect and that I could always call Dr. Shafer with any questions.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers should not be used more frequently than every three months.]
On a similar note, I was consistent with going to the same injector, so Dr. Shafer was already familiar with my aesthetic goals. He notes that results from injectable wrinkle reducers can partly be dependent on the injector. “If you go to a different injector each time [or try] somewhere [for] a special of the month just to save money, you’re not going to have [an experience similar to what] you’re used to having.”
Still, sometimes you might want or need to go to a different injector (for example, if you move). Should you consult with a new provider, it’s essential to be honest about your medical aesthetic past. “If you’re changing doctors, definitely let them know [about any previous injectable treatments] you’ve had done,” Dr. Shafer echoes. If you’re not entirely sure of your injection history, Shafer suggests asking your previous doctor for your treatment sheet.
Ultimately, being open about your past treatments can help your new injector do his or her best work. “From a doctor’s perspective, I don’t want to inject somebody who just had injections recently that I don’t know about, because then it’s not as predictive as it would be if you’re starting from scratch,” Shafer says. Not to mention, when it comes to retreatment, injectable wrinkle reducers must be spread at least three months apart.
There are also options if you do decide to get a treatment in another city. While follow-up is preferred in person, Dr. Shafer also utilizes technology to touch-base with out-of-town clients. He will treat the person in his office and then do the second appointment remotely via FaceTime®, Skype®, or another mode of video-conferencing. Be sure to ask your provider if they provide this option.
If it is determined via a video-conference call that the patient needs another appointment, there is a plan. “As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I have colleagues all over the world [to recommend] if a patient needs a follow-up locally.” If you go to someone licensed and well-connected, your provider can hand you off to another skilled, certified injector.
When you’re doing research, pay attention to the provider’s credential and specialities. A board-certified injector is usually the best bet. “You also want to make sure it’s a busy injections practice,” Shafer notes. “Feel free to ask [the provider] how many of these injections [they] do per week or per month, so that you know you’re going to [a provider who can give you] consistent results.”
Dr. Shafer is a paid Allergan® consultant.
Complimentary treatment was provided to the author for the purpose of writing this article.