A woman posted on Facebook asking for referrals for a dermatologist who does the perfect Botox in Nairobi? ‘‘Not looking to be completely frozen,” she said. Another asked for “a safe place to do Botox and fillers and dermatologists to completely avoid.”
In a growing influence of celebrity-obsessed culture and increasing disposable income, more Kenyans than ever are lining up in beauty clinics to do anti-ageing procedures such as Botox, eyelid injections, fillers, blood facials where platelet-rich plasma is injected in the face and laser hair removal.
“Kenyans are more open about body enhancements than before. Before it was very conservative. But generally, this is the trend around the world, people want to feel better about themselves so Kenyans are no different,” says Dr Radovan Boca, a consultant plastic, hand and re-constructive surgeon at Aga Khan University Hospital.
Dr Boca adds the younger generation is mainly influenced by social media pressures but then again cosmetic surgery it is nothing to be ashamed of.
“If you want to feel good, you want to feel good. There is nothing wrong with it,” he says.
Botox tops the list of face cosmetic procedures done in most Nairobi and Mombasa clinics, according to Dr Suhail Muravvej who runs Allure Laser Skin and Aesthetic Medicine Clinic. In a month, he sees more than 30 people who come in for face enhancement. In December, up to 90 people visited his clinic, most were from Nairobi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Europe, especially those on vacation.
“Women start doing Botox from when they are 25 years onwards,” said Dr Suhail.
Over the years, there has been a lot of change as to how women approach ageing. Nowadays, most of them do not want extensive radical procedures, which involves going under the knife because the recovery time is longer and complications are high.
Dr Nura Omar of Avane Cosmetic and Dermatology Clinic in Nyali says most of treatments sought after are minimally invasive or non-invasive. People want a quick return to work. They do not want to be seen that they had anything done.
“The skin turns over every three to four weeks. If there are procedures to expose the healthier skin there is nothing wrong with that,” she says.
So how is a perfect Botox done?
On its own, raw botulinum toxin that is used for Botox is poisonous and can result in total paralysis or death. However, Botox, which uses a highly diluted form of the toxin temporarily paralyses the muscles underneath wrinkles to smooth the skin.
“We use it to paralyse certain muscle groups that we do not want to act and show signs of ageing, which is wrinkles. So for example, when the muscle is used over time, as we age, it creates skin creases so if we paralyse those muscles to prevent creases,” says Dr Boca.
As everyone’s body is unique, cosmetic dermatologists have to determine the ideal procedure for each person.
“So ideally you would have a consultation with a specialist who understands ageing, who understands the skin and the muscle function because you need a doctor who knows which muscle does what on the face so he paralyses the correct one,” he says.
Botox injections do not offer a permanent youthful look so they need to be repeated and with more frequent use, they may become less effective.
“The functioning period of a toxin can be decreased with time. It usually lasts at least three months or longer,” says Dr Boca.
Dr Nura adds that her clients mostly come in for their Botox injections twice a year. A session ranges from Sh25,000 to Sh55,000 depending on the parts of the face that
While most women who pay for anti-ageing procedures already have wrinkles, Botox only improves the appearance of the wrinkles but it does not stop the ageing.
“We cannot stop time. In younger individuals, Botox has a role. However, as we age, the skin and facial bones waste away, muscles weaken and gravity acts on the facial tissue. The position and the shape of the nose also changes,” says Dr Boca.
Also the wrinkles create folds or depressions which doctors can only correct with facial fillers to smooth the skin.
“Not everything can be fixed with Botox or non-surgical methods. Sometimes when the damage is excessive or women have excess tissue, the only way to deal with this is to surgically remove the tissue,” says Dr Boca.