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A newbie's guide. 

These days it seems like getting Botox is as commonplace as your regular manicure appointment. Even if the practice is prolific among your friends, it doesn’t make the procedure any less intimidating if you’re deciding to try it out for the first time. For some Southerners the thought of a needle going into their face is enough to swear it off, but for others, a treatment to disguise fine lines is worth all the needles below the Mason Dixon. If you fall into the latter category and are considering giving Botox a go, check out this advice from dermatologist, Debra Jaliman, about what to expect during your first appointment.

1. It’s a great preventative measure

While women of all ages can benefit from Botox, it’s best to begin using it as a preventative measure to avoid fine lines and wrinkles. “Frown lines, the forehead, and crow’s feet are the most common areas to begin with,” says Dr. Jaliman. She says many patients usually start when they’re around twenty-five since it’s a time when expression lines start to deepen.

2. Understand it’s not a permanent solution

Unfortunately, it’s not a one-time fix. To maintain a youthful complexion, you need to go in every three to four months, so make sure you’re ready for the commitment and the investment.

3. Book an appointment with a dermatologist

Say no to any bargain Botox deals. The only person who you should trust to perform the procedure is your dermatologist. “You need a doctor with a lot of experience with Botox. Otherwise if the Botox is put in incorrectly you can have asymmetric eyebrows or your eyebrows can droop,” says Dr. Jaliman. “There are a lot of side effects associated with bad placement of Botox. The problem is that it can't be taken out of the skin and you’ll need to wait a few months for it to go away.”

4. Prepare accordingly

“It is important to stop taking any alcohol, ibuprofen, aspirin, fish oil or vitamin E one week before the procedure,” advises Dr. Jaliman. “Avoid herbal vitamins like garlic and ginseng as well.” All these things can thin out your blood, which can increase the chances of bruising.

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5. It won’t hurt—that much

So what happens during the actual appointment? First, skin is prepped with alcohol to remove any makeup and bacteria. Soon after, a micro-needle will be injected into your muscle, releasing a precise amount of Botox to plump. “It will feel like a subtle burning sensation,” says Dr. Jaliman. “However, if you are concerned about pain or discomfort, a topical numbing cream can be placed on the skin for fifteen to twenty minutes prior to the procedure which numbs the skin so the injections can barely be felt.”

6. Don’t stress about side effects

“Most people don’t experience any side effects,” says Dr. Jaliman. However, like with any in-office treatment, there’s a chance you could react. If so, it would be slight swelling, bruising or redness that goes away shortly after.