In late March, around 40 women attended a party in a Laguna Beach home overlooking the ocean. They mingled over sushi and champagne and chatted about PTA meetings, office politics and kids who made the honor roll. And they had numbing cream on their foreheads.
Dr. Richard Weiss, an ophthalmic plastic surgeon based in Newport Beach, first heard about a Botox party in London, “and after I mentioned it to a few of my clients I had an overwhelming response.” Initially approved by the FDA for the treatment of facial spasms and uncontrollable blinking of the eyelids, Botox is gaining widespread public attention as a non-surgical procedure that can reduce lines and wrinkles around the eyes and forehead, the tell-tale signs of aging. “It relaxes the facial muscles that cause you to frown or squint,” says Weiss, “reducing their pull on your skin.”
Weiss demonstrated Botox therapy on his office manager, Jana Adams. After small red dots were marked between her brows, Weiss injected a few small doses of Botox directly into Adams’s facial muscles. “It doesn’t hurt at all,” she said as curious guests quizzed her about the experience. “I feel totally fine.” The whole procedure took about 10 minutes, temporarily leaving a slight red mark as if she had just plucked her eyebrows. Weiss said the full effect would not be apparent for seven days and would last for three to six months.
Having seen the demo, guests were ready to take the next step. Weiss set up shop in an upstairs art studio as eager patients lined up to give their wrinkles a sabbatical. The cost of the procedure varies depending on the patient’s needs, but it typically runs between $200 to $300 for brow furrow, the most commonly treated area; party attendees were offered the treatment at a $100 discount.
Weiss has used Botox since 1989, but recently he’s seen its demand for cosmetic purposes surge. “Most people have now heard of Botox,” he says, “and they all seem to want to talk about it to their friends, like a new ride at Disney.”
Free from the stigma often associated with invasive cosmetic surgery such as breast implants or face-lifts, Botox is the hot new topic of conversation. Now that Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox, has received FDA approval for cosmetic use, Weiss anticipates that its popularity will increase significantly and says, “soon it will be like going to get a facial.”