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The Time I Intentionally Poisoned My Face: My Botox Story

Botox at Esteem Medical Spa RenoI’ll never forget that day, sitting on my son’s bed embroiled in an epic battle of the wills, mid-admonishment for some now-forgotten transgression, when he said the following:

“Mom, I hate when you get mad at me. Because your face looks really mean.”

It was in that moment that I realized: I had never really thought about how my face “looked” while embroiled in an epic battle of the wills.

Until then.

I mean, who in their right mind ever looks at themselves in the mirror — or pulls out their iPhone, turns the camera front-facing and snaps an Instagram-worthy pic of themselves, for that matter — mid-scowly-angry-exchange-with-impetuous-child.

(Spoiler alert: This may or may not be an example of foreshadowing.)

So I decided to do just that. No pictures, obvs, but I looked in the mirror, remembering my son’s transgression, imagining the mirror was his face, complete with dismissive rolling eyes. And I scowled.

And what I saw terrified me.

I’m 43 years old. I have three kids ranging in ages from 17 to 3.

And as it turns out, my forehead adequately reflects that — while angry, that is.

There were lines. So many lines. Deep ones, medium ones and surface ones. Some of the lines even had their own lines, like they were collecting them. For posterity or something.

Before this moment, I had always felt pretty blessed with a somewhat youthful(ish) appearance, which I attributed to a combination of rockin’ genes and a general aversion to the sun. (Special shout-out to my stunning mom and my awesome papa, who are both in their 70s but look FAR younger than they are.)

I was even legit-carded at Olive Garden a few weeks ago — with witnesses present, no less.

But wow, when angry, my relatively wrinkle-free skin: not quite so relatively wrinkle-free.

So I decided to do something about it.

A few weeks ago, I walked into Esteem Medical Spa on South McCarran Boulevard, armed with way too much knowledge.

You see, I had spent the night before doing what NO ONE should do before getting Botox.

So because I care and I’m totally here for you, the following are the top 5 things you should NEVER do before getting Botox:

  1. Research “Botox side effects” online.
  2. Research “Botox side effect pictures” online.
  3. Research “Botched Botox” online.
  4. Research “Botox creepy cat lady” online.
  5. Research “Botox” online.

Seriously. Just don’t do it. I promise, you’ll be far better off NOT doing any research.

So the worry lines I had between my brows were nice and pronounced when I walked in, extra wrinkly after a semi-sleepless night during which the only REM cycle was spent dreaming about scary cat ladies and their expressionless (yet still notably feline) appearances.

“Would you like some coffee, tea or water?” asked the perky, taut-skinned greeter behind the desk as I walked in. I immediately guessed I looked like I was going to faint, but alas, she also asked the next (not-so-stressed-and-obviously-much-tighter-skinned) woman who followed me in.

Next was the consent form.Botox consent form

Well crap.

It was as if my nightmares were coming to life, as words like “unwanted muscle paralysis,” “infection,” and “problems smiling and/or talking” practically leapt off the page.

“It’s just a silly, CYA, stupid consent form,” I thought to myself, wondering if my kids would ever understand the sacrifices I was making to rid their futures of Mean Mommy Face.

But the form did nothing to prepare me for the next step in the process, which will likely go down as the Worst. Moment. Of my. Entire. Life.

Because you know how, above, I said something to the effect of “Who in their right mind would ever take a pic of themselves mid-scowly-angry-exchange-with-impetuous-child”?

Well I was forced to do that. (Clever foreshadowing, am I right?)

They took two pictures: one with my eyes closed, one with a horrifically squinty-faced scowl.

And no, there’s NO WAY I’m sharing that picture in this post.

Instead, here’s a cheery “before” picture taken that morning with full knowledge (read: fear) that it may have been the last time I intentionally smiled or didn’t sport one uncontrollably droopy lid. Notice the bangs cleverly concealing the Land of Abundant Lines?

Pre-botox Mikalee

Anyhow, obviously, the tortuous squinty pictures were taken to document the “before” part of the “before and after.” Yes, it was understandable; but no, that didn’t make it OK.

Then came my time with Dr. Glass, Esteem’s physician. And I gotta say: This was the fun part, even though needles and poison were about to be involved. We chatted about what Botox is, what it does, and how it works. We chatted about side effects (he did his best to calm my fears, though I remained skeptical). We chatted about muscle groupings and how they work together. We chatted about desired outcomes. And we chatted about alternatives to Botox — specifically Dysport, a newer, FDA-approved, slightly less expensive competitor to Botox with the potential for slightly longer-lasting/faster results.

We talked for a while, and then came his recommendation: a mini-Botox-brow lift. Using Dysport, I decided.

Poke-pinch-poke-pinch and done. I was on my way.

Sure, I might be slightly exaggerating the ease, but it definitely shocked me how quickly the whole thing was over.

I went home and waited, making Mean Mommy Face in the mirror every 10 minutes.

No change. Still a mean mommy.

I waited a few more days, now making Mean Mommy Face in the mirror every hour.

No change. Still a mean mommy.

But then, on about day #7, I tried again. And it was remarkably difficult to make Mean Mommy Face. Because my forehead barely budged.

The difference in my appearance was super subtle. But for me, the subtlety is the beauty. I had no desire for my friends or co-workers to look at me and exclaim, “Wow, what did you do?”

I had no desire to look expressionless, creepily wide-eyed or feline.

All I wanted was to no longer scare my kids with Mean Mommy Face.

And with that in mind, now was the moment: Time to try that shit out.

I went into my son’s room, staring at him intently. I glared at him, doing my best to contort my face and squint my eyes.

“Does my face look really mean?” I asked.

“No, but your eyes are freaking me out,” he said, taking a few steps back.

Turns out, even though I essentially couldn’t move my forehead, I compensated just fine with a new and piercingly effective glare.

Still Mean Mommy; just one with a far smoother forehead.

So there you have it. And considering I gave you a list of the five things NOT to do before getting Botox, here are a few things to do:

  1. Relax, ask questions of your medical professional, and start subtle. It’s just like getting your bangs cut: You can always cut more, but you can never add them back. Once you have Laura Ingalls Wilder bangs, for example, you can never make them look like Angelina Jolie’s. Remember this as you’re discussing dosage: Probably best to start gradually, then add more if necessary. At Esteem, they bring you back two weeks after your initial appointment to check in on progress and offer supplementary procedures if necessary.
  2. Be prepared for some side effects, though not everyone has the same response. For me, I was SUPER tired that afternoon and felt a general sense of achiness within an hour of having the injections. I honestly thought I was coming down with something, until I reviewed the handy consent-form picture I had snapped on my phone detailing the list of scary side effects, and there it was: “flu-like symptoms.” By the next morning, I was back to feeling 100 percent.
  3. Don’t expect immediate results. I was getting impatient, even suggesting to a few friends that, “I guess Botox doesn’t work on me.” Until it did. A full week later.
  4. Have realistic expectations. Alas, I did not turn into Jennifer Aniston, and I think I’m still disappointed in that. Stupid Botox.
  5. Practice shooting daggers from your eyes, because that’s one of the only ways to communicate anger with your face.


The story above reflects my personal experience, one of a non-medical-professional who is slightly prone to exaggeration, suffers occasional panic attacks when confronted with scary online pictures of ladies who resemble creepy cats and typically sleeps roughly four hours/night (when lucky). Thus, it’s probably advisable to actually research Botox before deciding to do it for yourself, because chances are, you’re slightly less prone to Catastrophic Thinking Syndrome, Anxiety-Induced Insomnia and/or Ailurophobia — also known as an irrational fear of cats. 


This post was sponsored by Esteem Medical Spa.


About Mikalee Byerman

Mikalee Byerman
Voted "Best Creative Writer" in 2018 by readers of the Reno News & Review, Mikalee Byerman will henceforth be talking about this distinction ad nauseam because it's the first and only popularity contest this former buck-toothed nerd has ever won in her life. She is a humor essayist whose highly controversial blog, Me 2.0, has been featured on the Huffington Post and TIME Magazine's websites. Her writing also has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Southwest Spirit Magazine and Alaska Airlines Magazine. Her debut book — 100 Things to Do in Reno Before You Die — was published last year by Reedy Press. During the day, she is VP of Strategy for the Estipona Group. Oh, and her name rhymes with "prickly fireman," though FYI, she's neither prickly nor a fireman.

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