I’m 26 and Got Botox and Fillers for a Wedding—Here’s What Happened

Spoiler alert: I fainted.
by Sophie Ross
Before and after Dysport and Restylane injections
Josie Sanchez/Jessica Kane

Although I’d never actively sought out any facial procedures—and I’ll be the first to admit that a 26-year-old isn’t technically the prime candidate for injectables—when the opportunity presented itself for me to try Dysport injectables (aka Botulinum toxin, similar to Botox) and Restylane (aka fillers) a week before a family friend’s wedding, I couldn’t say no. As someone who’s been somewhat immersed in the beauty industry for several years now, I’ve always been a bit curious about what the procedure entails—and wanted to know if injectables are something I could truly recommend to readers.

Even when I got to the doctor’s office—a highly regarded dermatologist named Joshua Zeichner, MD—and signed a piece of paper acknowledging I could suffer from scarring or paralysis as a result of the procedure, I knew I had to go through with it. You know, for the sake of journalism.

After I signed the papers, a medical assistant wiped my makeup off and slathered numbing gel on my entire face.

The allover numbing agent was necessary, since I was getting Dysport injected between my eyebrows and into my crow’s feet on both sides of my face, and getting Restylane injected into my cheeks and lips. In other words, I would be injected dozens of times in total in multiple areas of my face. (Side note: Since I was getting my lips done, the numbing gel was applied liberally to my mouth area, which in turn, caused my tongue to turn numb. I couldn’t speak properly and the water I tried to drink immediately fell out of my paralyzed mouth. It wasn’t a very glamorous process, I can tell you that much.)

Zeichner injected me with Dysport first, which was—for the most part—pretty painless. Dysport works by causing paralysis in your nerves where it’s injected once it sets in (it usually takes around a week). Since I got it in my crow’s feet and between my eyebrows, Zeichner told me that in around a week’s time, the wrinkles there would no longer be visible.

After injecting me, he told me to crinkle up my nose and furrow my brow multiple times so that the product could be evenly spread throughout my face. Now, weeks after having gotten the procedure, I can no longer properly make that face since, you know, the nerves are paralyzed.

Dysport was done. Easy enough, right? Time for the Restylane.

I’m not sure why I had the idea that fillers were a one-and-done situation. You know, that when Kylie Jenner went in to get her famous pout done, they simply gave her a shot to the lips, filled ’em up and told her she was good to go.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In reality, I was pricked and prodded tens of times. The cheeks were first—Zeichner informed me that I’d be able to hear “crackling” noises every time the needle perforated my skin. (It was true—and while the crackling noises were unsettling, they’re apparently perfectly normal.) Unlike the Dysport, the Restylane injections were honestly pretty painful and—since I’m not a huge fan of needles in general—just unpleasant.

After injecting each side of my face—since my face is asymmetrical, he tailored the amount of Restylane to each individual side—Zeichner started massaging and molding the product “like a sculptor,” if you will. (His words, not mine!)

At this point, I’m pretty much over the process. Not only am I in pain, but after holding up a mirror to see the results, I can tell I’m bleeding (which, again, is normal) and my squeamishness is kicking in.

I can’t emphasize enough that this process isn’t for everyone—and it’s certainly not as glamorous as shows about Orange County plastic surgeons might lead you to believe. But again, for journalistic purposes, I march on.

The lips were next, and no, my prophecy regarding Kylie Jenner’s lips was not correct. (Believe it or not, my lips didn’t just blow up immediately after one injection like a set of inflated balloons.) Even though I asked for the minimum amount of product for an extra-subtle look, all in all, my lips alone were probably injected between 10 and 20 times, although I didn’t count.

As Zeichner is “molding” the filler in my lips, I begin to feel lightheaded and stutter out some words (it was actually an attempt at announcing that I’m about to faint). I suppose the color left my face at that moment, because he said, “You look like you’re about to faint!” before I could even finish my sentence. I was already sitting, so he put the chair back to make the blood return to my head and woke me up with smelling salts. I meant to ask him if I was the first person to faint during the procedure, but my guess is that I wasn’t, solely based on how quick and professional his response was.

So, I survived! And although there was some major swelling the next morning (see the photo below) which Zeichner warned me about, the results have been super-subtle and satisfactory since then. In fact, my very own family—with whom I attended a wedding the very next weekend—didn’t even notice (which is exactly what you want, according to Zeichner, unless you’re looking for a more dramatic change in appearance).

Swollen lips from Restylane
Sophie Ross

The results last for six months to a year, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve always had a super-thin upper lip, so having one that doesn’t totally disappear every time I grin is pretty awesome—and the perks of not having visible crow’s feet every time I giggle (which is often) can’t be ignored. Generally speaking, I just feel more confident whenever I smile now.

Which brings me to my next point: Your smile lines and flaws are beautiful and—to get a little cheesy—represent all the laughter you’re lucky enough to have experienced over the years (much of it with your partner, probably).

That said, as women, we tend to feel tons of pressure from society to look “perfect”—especially on our wedding day. But know that if you’re a to-be-wed above the age of 25, wrinkles are pretty much inevitable—and you can choose to embrace them, or seek out solutions (night creams and anti-wrinkle treatments are popular for a reason).

The beauty of injectables is they’re an option for anyone—like me—who might feel a little self-conscious about a thin upper lip or the times I’ve gotten mistaken for “the older sister.” But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Injectables aren’t exactly cheap, and again, I probably wouldn’t have sought them out had I not gotten them for free for the purpose of this reporting.

But now that I know how much I love the results and how gorgeously subtle they are, I’d consider paying for the injectables in the future (especially the Dysport) for a special occasion (like my wedding). But for now, I feel okay with mine disappearing in the next year and going back to looking like “the old me” (which, according to my family, looks exactly like “the new me”).

So if you’re considering getting injectables for your wedding day, I’d recommend finding a doctor you trust and talking with them regarding the procedures you’re most interested in for your wedding (and the risks involved for all of them). Timing-wise, you never know what kind of adverse reactions you could have, so I’d recommend only doing it a few months out from your wedding day, although I got mine a week before the event and was fine. (It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you’re a to-be-wed.) Either way, if you think you’ll want bee-stung lips or simply slightly fuller cheekbones in your wedding photos, then go for it!

Because you should do what makes you feel as beautiful as possible on your day. But know that your partner (and family) love you just the way you are—and might not even notice a difference.

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