Like most women and some men in this city I tend to FAN GIRL out over fancy doctors with recognizable names and their own lines of products at Sephora (shout out to Dr. Gross and your Alpha-Beta Peel).
There are many that fit the bill, most with practices in glowing offices lining Park Avenue, Lex, and 5th. But any good New Yorker knows that when you really, REALLY want the best – from botox to technology far beyond – you make an appointment at the practice of one Dr. Patricia Wexler – dermatological surgeon to the stars, royalty, and the very, very wealthy.
Since it’s my FACE we’re talking here and because I undergo wellness treatments not just for your reading pleasure, I made the decision that for a piece on botox, Wexler Dermatology was really my only option. So, I made an appointment and sat on my hands until the day finally arrived last week for my special moment in the sun with the botox needle. Having not been the first time to get injected with this miracle toxin (this round would be my second go), I had an idea of what to expect ahead of time, but my nerves were not entirely quelled by experience.
First and foremost I was running late to my appointment. The traffic on 3rd Avenue was ridiculous and my Uber driver wasn’t tuned into Waze in the way I was from the back seat. I get seriously freaked out when Irving Place is totally open and instead we’re in gridlock one block over. I hate being late, so my anxiety was building solely from being branded as the naughty patient whose tardiness would hold up the schedule at the practice for the rest of the day.
Next, needles. I like to pretend they don’t bother me at all from my experience with Accutane and the required monthly blood draw that comes with taking the skin clearing medication. And they don’t bother me THAT much, but still, I do have to look away when the sharp end plunges through my flesh to do my doctor’s bidding.
Add in the fact that the needle is not being directed into the arm but instead above the eyebrow and nervous energy tends to experience a minor uptick in severity.
Happily, when I arrived at the practice nobody gave me the death stare and instead I was happily guided into a room to wait for Dr. Francesca Fusco, a fabulous medical and cosmetic dermatologist who is a master in her own right with the needle. Even happier still, when she walked in she was a breath of dermatological fresh-air: warm, lovable, and quite soothing with her friendly and approachable tone. Safe to say she calmed whatever remaining pre-treatment worries I was still harboring.
As a 30 year old, I’ve made the decision to include botox in my skincare routine as a way to prevent existing wrinkles from settling in deeper, and to help quiet wrinkles and signs of age that are beginning to form as we speak. I’m less interested in the pulled “look” of botox that you see with many women, though it does refresh the entire face nicely. I’m using botox in the same way I’m using sunscreen: not to fix existing issues so much as prevent new ones from occurring. And I think that most practitioners would agree with me – at my age, botox is much more preventative than anything else.
So, Dr. Fusco asks me which areas of my face are troublesome and I don’t hesitate to zero in on the Glabullar Region, better known as the “elevens” in between the eyebrows. I’ve always had a serious case of resting bitch face and it causes me to furrow my brow at absolutely nothing more often than not.
Strangers often stop me on the street to ask me what’s wrong or to make the very kind recommendation that I smile more. I suppose, despite my intention in these moments to send icicles of death from my eyeballs to their necks, I’d like to not look quite so serious for the rest of my days so I ask her to please shoot the good stuff into this area right here. We also discuss crows feet as she makes delicate marks on my face with a white pencil, dancing around my skin with precision and dexterity.
And then finally the moment is upon me – the needles removed from their disposable, plastic cages – as Dr. Fusco hands me stress balls to squeeze in case the pain is too much to bear. Mind you, I’ve declined the offer of a numbing cream because I’m just so bad-ass, and thoughts of regret immediately race through my mind as she approaches my face with her steady hand, needle in tow. Despite silent pleas, PRICK goes the first injection, directly into the middle of my brow line.
The feeling of pressure! The slight pinch! The lingering of the needle in the skin! And then, the relief of the first poke being over as Dr. Fusco withdraws the thin device of pain and pleasure and carefully asks me if I’m alright. And, yes actually, I’m quite alright. It truly doesn’t hurt very much at all. It’s simply a nervous situation to have a stranger push a needle with muscle-freezing material into ones face. After another prick or two, I’m riding high on the experience, the stress balls an unnecessary comfort.
10 touches in total, the experience is quick and relatively painless. I can feel the botox taking effect rather quickly as it becomes more difficult to move some of my go-to R.B.F. muscles. They feel as though they’re wading through thick mud in an effort to look displeased. And I’m absolutely thrilled by it. Who wouldn’t be?
I leave the office 15 minutes later after Dr. Fusco artfully applies cooling gel pads to my skin instead of ice packs. By then, I’ve fully recovered and we’ve moved on to discuss epilators and the best way to remove dark spots from the skin (she recommends Lytera 2.0 from SkinMedica). I leave with some free product because she is a baller and I’m on my way to my next appointment, refreshed and looking just friendly enough to keep strangers-with-opinions at bay as I cruise towards Lex to hail a cab.