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Blog: Botulinum toxin facelift for beginners

I never thought I was ever going to need botulinum toxin injections or fillers to look good. I once even thought that these were only for the chronically ugly and/ or insecure or those who depend on their looks to make a living like models and TV personalities. Besides, there are enough glossy foreheads, sausage lips and frozen eyebrows in Hollywood to turn me off the idea of going under the needle to look good. A friend of mine even said, “The smarts can be learnt. But if you’re born ugly, there’s little you can do about it that isn’t expensive, invasive or even downright life-threatening.”

Joceyln Wildenstein, wife of billionaire art dealer Alec Wildenstein, has reportedly spent more than $4 million on aesthetic procedures.

To start with, I’ve been fortunate to have a healthy self-esteem; I’ve outgrown the awkwardness of my young adulthood and in my adulthood I have been complimented often enough by friends and strangers to not feel compelled for the longest time to even consider a minimally invasive aesthetic procedure for any reason.

I did not think that I needed to do much more than what my husband has been doing to look and feel young, ie a good diet and exercise regimen. The former para from the British Parachute Regiment has been going to the gym five times a week since he was a teenager representing his school in gymnastics, eventing and fencing. Approaching his mid fifties, my husband is a picture of good health who out-benchpresses juniors half his age at the gym for sport.

I had a personal trainer in 2008 who taught me resistance and strength training three times a week for several months and many of these exercises I continue to do on my own to this day at least thrice weekly in the gym. Since last year I started taking my vitamin Bs and C regularly and probiotics for those celebratory meals with clients or with my significant other. Going to my personal therapist to process and release stressful emotions and triggers, I believe, has also nipped some worry lines in the bud or prevented them from forming altogether. My skincare regimen is also pretty basic; I’ve been a loyal fan of Dr Hauschka Cleansing milk, VMV Hypollergenics Re-Everything Toner and Kiehl’s Sunscreen; I only wear concealer and a little powder for my dark under eye circles, but the rest of my face is usually bare except for the occasional cream blusher.

I’d like to think that I’m already taking very good care of myself.

My crow’s feet have practically disappeared by the third day after the treatment. (Please click to enlarge)

So when Dr Lam Bee Lan from Ageless Aesthetics Medical Centre offered me a Dysport Dermalift (a botulinum toxin facelift), I jumped at the offer, mostly out of curiosity. When I announced on Facebook that I was going to have a facelift, the protests came flooding in from friends male and female. “It would be a good day for a game of poker!” read one response to my post and another read “It’s not like you need a facelift.”

The offer was also the biggest form of flattery I’ve ever received on my looks; Dr Lam Bee Lan is a favourite with several injectable aesthetic brands and she is often called upon to conduct aesthetic training sessions for doctors because of her precision and flair with the needle. I have seen her perform enough procedures on volunteers during these training sessions, often alongside skilled and experienced plastic surgeon trainers from around the world, that convinced me that aesthetic procedures can produce visible but subtle and flattering results; the sort of results that in her words, “would make people notice that you look better than when they last met you, only that they couldn’t quite put a finger on why.” Dr Lam has also been very careful and thorough when managing her clients’ expectations, especially when it comes to their pain thresholds and the effects of these injectables on their skin.

By the third day my glabellar lines were so much gentler. (Please click to enlarge)

There are three things about the Dysport Dermalift that are unlike conventional botulinum toxin injections.

  1. There is no downtime; in fact I walked out of her clinic after the session and returned straight to the office. For a good two minutes, I let my colleagues peer at my face until they gave up and asked me what Dr Lam had done.

  2. The actual process, minus the registration, taking before and after photos and application of numbing cream took only 10 to 15 minutes with Dr Lam’s quick but steady hand.

  3. I did not look frozen. This is due to the concentration of the toxin and the technique that it was delivered. Some of the toxin was delivered directly into the skin (dermis) itself; not all of the toxin was delivered into the frontalis muscle whose contractions are responsible for the formation of glabellar lines. Too much toxin delivered via intra-muscular injections can cause one’s forehead to look “frozen” and unable to animate.

Dr Lam examined my face when I arrived. She said that my glabellar lines (lines between my eyebrows) and crow’s feet were becoming prominent, “I will lift your eyebrows just by a tiny bit, to make them appear bigger even when you smile, but you will still look natural and be able to animate after the treatment.” She asked me if I wanted to keep my strong jawline and I said yes, and that I am proud of it and am not a fan of the smooth V-shaped Korean face that is currently en vogue. She said in that case she would make my chin less short and my cheekbones more defined.

Her assistant took photos of my face from various angles using a professional camera against a black background. She also took photos of my facial expressions; she asked me to smile, frown and raise my eyebrows, all the time making sure that I looked straight ahead. She then removed makeup from my skin where Dr Lam said she was going to inject me with the toxin.

It really didn’t feel as painful as it looks (it really felt like tiny ant bites), thanks to the numbing cream.

Dr Lam was aware that I had not done any aesthetic procedures before and I had no idea what my pain threshold was like as it had been ages since my last facial, so I was taken to the treatment room where numbing cream was applied on my face so that the pain, if any, would be less intense. Some of the cream was also applied under my eyes.

With a sharp needle, Dr Lam injected the toxin into multiple sites near my hairline, temples, around my eyes and on my chin. They didn’t feel as painful as they look here (these multiple tiny mosquito bite-like lumps that you see in this picture); where there was pain, it felt like ant bites or the “pinprick” feeling you sometimes get when you thread or pluck your eyebrows. The whole process took about 10 to 15 minutes. Her assistant helped to further distract me from the pain by pressing a vibrator against under my earlobe (thankfully nowhere else, haha) and also squeezing my ankle.

Dr Lam did the right side of my face first, and when she was done she asked me to look in the mirror to see how each side compared to the other. The changes were minute, although some of them were more visible than others. Among the more visible and immediate changes were the glabellar lines which had become less noticeable and my crow’s feet which had become gentler and shorter. I also noticed that my cheekbones near my temples had become slightly more prominent; Dr Lam said that the effects of the toxin should come into full effect in about a month of the treatment.

After the treatment, antibiotic cream was applied to the injection sites and I was out of there! I was told not to exercise vigorously or swim or drink alcohol for a few days. I was also told not to rub my face too hard when cleaning my face or doing makeup. I attempted to sleep on my back which was difficult as I am naturally a side sleeper. Sleeping on my side on the second night did not seem to have any effect. I also felt a very slight tightness on my chin and above my eyebrows. I could not raise my eyebrows as high as previously, but I could still frown and smile as usual. The effects are said to last between six months to a year, depending on the individual.

Dr Lam also said for the first one to two years, patients may need to return every four to five months for injections. After one or two years, frown lines and crow’s feet will take longer to return as the patient unlearns certain expressions like frowning. The intradermal injection technique also stimulates collagen to grow, so the lines will take longer to return.”

I met my cousin the next day for lunch and she said if I hadn’t shown her the before and after photos, she would not have known I had a botulinum toxin injection! The wrinkles around my eyes disappeared three days after my appointment with Dr Lam Bee Lan. Now when I frown, the glabellar lines are gentle and shallow.

If you’re new to aesthetics with a very low pain threshold (like me) and want to try something that is virtually painless and has practically zero downtime, the Dysport Dermalift is definitely something to consider.

For more information, visit or call 6452 0368

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