A personal fountain of youth

By on March 6, 2008

Photo © Elena Derevstova

When my editor Carol confided that she had scheduled a visit to the Akai Medical Clinic, my interest was piqued. She was going to receive a laser treatment for uneven skin tone, but she mentioned a number of other treatments, too. The one that grabbed my attention was Botox.

I’ve been fairly lucky with my skin, a legacy from my English mother who eschewed the typical New Zealand sun worshipping culture I grew up in. I’ve always prided myself on not looking my age, but of late, I’ve noticed the fine lines on my forehead have become a little more prominent. Most likely, this is a combination of age plus all the yelling I do at my three kids.

Botox is among the fastest-growing cosmetic procedures in the industry today. Minuscule amounts of the Botox substance are injected into the skin, blocking the release of a chemical called acetylcholine by nerve cells that signal muscle contraction. By selectively interfering with the underlying muscles’ ability to contract, existing frown lines are smoothed out.

I have to admit that I’m not a great one for injections or pain, having never even had a tooth filled before. So it was with some trepidation that I showed up at Dr. Akai’s clinic for my consultation. The clinic staff know exactly how to deal with newbies, and their gentle words and calm demeanor soon had me feeling relaxed. Patients may elect to receive the treatment with or without topical anesthesia—I chose the former.
An assistant applied a cool, soothing lotion to my forehead, and within 15 mins. the area was numbed. Then it was time for the needle. Dr. Akai warned me that the anesthesia cream might not totally block the sensation, and admittedly I felt a sting the first time. The subsequent nine injections, however, were a piece of cake and in minutes it was all over. The cream was wiped off and then I was free to go. It took about 30 more mins. for the anesthesia to wear off, during which it felt a little bit like I was wearing a tight helmet.

Dr. Akai told me the effects of the Botox treatment would be apparent in three to four days, and true to his word, they were! My frown lines have smoothed out, and I haven’t looked this young since I farewelled my 20s. How does it feel? Entirely natural—there are no strange after effects. More than two thirds of clients at the Akai Clinic are non-Japanese, so the staff are well versed in the needs of the international community.

The Botox treatment I had cost ¥52,000—an amount I am unaccustomed to spending on myself. But considering that the effects of Botox can last up to six months, this is no more than many women would spend on hair care or makeup during the same period.

I haven’t told friends or colleagues, but some remarked that I’m looking well or “well rested.” I haven’t told my husband yet, either, although my cover will be blown when he reads this article. His comment? “You look happier these days!” And who wouldn’t be happy about that?

About Louise George Kittaka