My Botox Experiment

After too many Zoom calls with sub-optimal lighting, David decided to try Botox. He finds out: Is it safe? Can it look natural?

About 5 weeks ago when I was at the dermatologist getting a skin cancer check-up, a wild idea entered my mind: Botox! What would that be like, is it dangerous, would I like myself more, or is it totally weird in a TV-weather-person frozen-expression sort of way? Clearly I had some other issues lurking behind this thought, but when sitting in the doctor’s office, deep introspection of self-worth was not top of mind. 

My rationale was: first, I would like to personally understand this better, and second, should it go horribly wrong and half my face gets paralyzed…well, I won’t be having in-person meetings for another year so no big deal. It seemed like if one were to do such an experiment, now was as good a time as ever.

Zoom-Induced Botox Interest

The other factor here, if I am going to be honest, is that with constant Zoom calls via high definition cameras and not always optimal lighting, I was not liking the way my face was looking. I don’t think I have ever spent so much time seeing myself up close on a screen. Especially disappointed were my eyes, which seemed to have become semi-closed even when I am wide awake. Not a good look.

My photo background has led me to a pretty high level of discernment about what I have seen people do to themselves in the realm of age-abating modifications: fillers, Botox, various cosmetic surgeries often stand out to me in high relief. Sometimes it is pleasing, and other times it can be super weird, as in full-Donatella weird. The Beverly-Hills-Daffy-Duck lip injections, for instance, is something I have some trouble understanding. Maybe it is a cultural thing that I just don’t get?

The price of my Botox experiment? $385. Let’s do it. I had my forehead injected by the highly skilled and wonderfully conversational Dr. Kelly Stankiewicz, MD. During our time together, I asked her some questions:

Is Botox Dangerous?

Is getting a terrifically powerful toxin injected into my head dangerous? Sure seems like it would be, or are we just taking advantage of what nature has to offer? Hummm…

When people are hesitant to have Botox because they think it’s an unnatural toxin, I always remind them this is a great example of harnessing the power of nature. Botox is natural and originates from nature. I really like your paraphrase though: Botox is taking advantage of what nature has to offer. This is spot on.

Botox Trends

What are the new trends you are seeing in your practice?

I think the biggest trend I’m seeing in my practice is a greater interest in men of your age group. Truly! I’m not just saying that. Could it be the Zoom calls? The techniques are subtly different when injecting men and women. Women enjoy an arched and raised brow, while for men we try to raise the brow but keep the shape flat. The area that is increasing in popularity, I think, is the neck. Most people are pleasantly surprised at the improvement we can get in those bands that sit under the chin — the first signs of neck aging. 

As far as more or less freezing, this is a very personal preference. In general, between the eyes we really try to go for a frozen look and on the forehead we try to retain natural movement while stopping the formation of lines. Some people have a very strong preference for something different and they definitely let the physician know. 

Anderson Cooper’s Regime

What’s with Anderson Cooper and what looks like a varying Botox regime? Sometimes glasses sometimes not, sometimes totally frozen and sometimes less so?

Regarding Anderson Cooper, I’m a big fan. I don’t want to badmouth him, so I say all of this with a playful spirit. However, there are times when his forehead does not move at all. When you put too much Botox in the forehead, it makes your brows sit lower. I have always imagined that this is when I think he wears his glasses — just when the Botox is feeling the strongest at the beginning of the course of treatment. If I were doing his Botox, I would focus on the strong muscles between the brows and do very little in his forehead. This would prevent the strong “11’s” and give him a lift so he doesn’t have to hide his low brows with glasses. 

End Result

What was the effect? You can bet that every day, a couple of times a day for the first month I was checking myself in the mirror to see what the difference was. Basically, I look about the same; I can still move my forehead, but less so between the brows. My eyes are open slightly more, and this I really like. It is me, but slightly enhanced. It is subtle enough that my wife has some trouble seeing the difference. Would I do it again? I think I would. The treatment lasts around 4 months, and I’ll decide then what I think. The question is, would I go for any other more invasive procedures? I don’t think so. Whitening my teeth, a bit of self-tanner, some skin moisturizer and that is about all I am willing to bother with as, for the most part, I am pretty happy with the way I look. But who knows, ask me next year. Maybe the Donatella-full-mod is the way to go?

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


  1. If only the paralyzing effect of Botox could be applied to the desire for facial road work, that would really be something. Instead, the reasonable restraint you showed towards just doing this little area a little has for so many people set off a full-blown terra-forming, accelerating the desire to do more and more and more until they look like some strange new race of impassive, lip-enhanced humanoids. You are an incredibly handsome man and you have a wonderfully expressive face! So be careful, lest the botox relax your moral muscles. And Happy New Year!

  2. Agree that men constitute an increasing segment of the Med Spa clientele and their principal barrier to proceeding is fear of loss of control (looking wierd, unnnatural, being teased for succumbing to ageist pressures). In balance, once we dialogue about their goals, the risk/benefit profile, economics and maintenance schedule, my staff and I have found them to be among the most reasonable, forbearing and loyal patients. It is my perception that men value results which look better but are invisible and we aim to deliver. Hoping that 2021 will bring a longer lasting Botox manufactured in Nor Cal. A completely novel molecule, this would be consonant with both male patients who don’t wish to be pin cushioned 4x/year as well as a surgeon, who does split service between the OR and Med spa. Happy 2021 to all.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’ve got some 11’s going on that I would love to banish. I suspect the pandemic has kept me indoors enough so much that I am just not as motivated to pick up the phone and make that appointment. After reading this, I just might.

  4. My Husband (54) tried botox a couple of times. Like you the first attempt was subtle and not very noticable – smoother forehead and diminished smile lines. The second round was more impactful and not in a good way. The area above his brows looked unnatural and shiny and the lift to his brows gave him a Spock like appearance. That was the end of the experiment.
    I am an esthetician by trade so at 54, I try to keep a basic, natural skin care routine, but as you acknowledge the camera doesn’t lie (unless you use filters) so I am also considering laser work for age spots/wrinkles/texture and even a potential surgical solution for sagging skin areas.
    50’s are a great time for some subtle work that can carry through to your 60’s and beyond. Not necessarily trying reverse or eliminate age effects – just improve overall appearance, quality and health of the face and body.


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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