Needles. Needles in the front of my face

No longer a famous natural beauty

The above text chain is self-explanatory. I said yes to facial fillers and got some last Monday. This was my first time getting any type of injection in my face.

I could wax on for you about my relationship with my looks and the topic of vanity but here is the beginning and end of it: The lines on the sides of my face along my nose were bumming me out. They really made themselves known this year (I’ll turn 42 in April) and became the thing on my face I got sick of staring at. I suddenly realized that I will win no awards or get a special obituary if I die without seeing what happens if a needle is stuck in my face— and that a better, lower stakes opportunity to try something like this would never likely come along.

My friend Dr. Sara Dickie, the sender of the text above, is, to put it concisely, naturally beautiful and normal-looking, which is to say that she’s an effective walking advertisement for her own work. She doesn’t look like she is trying to look younger; she just looks terrific and healthy and happy. Also I’ve met her mom a few times and Dr. Dickie still looks like her, which I think is a testament to her subtlety. She and some other school moms and I periodically met up virtually/distantly over the last year and she heard me say that these lines were bugging me, so she knew it was on my mind when she texted me. Here is my report a week out:

What exactly did you get put in your face? RHA3 filler in my nasolabial folds and smile lines, a hyaluronic acid filler. “It’s new to the American market but it has been used in Europe for many years. It was developed in Switzerland,” says Dr. Dickie. I asked another friend, a dermatologist, about this product who said “It’s pretty new so I don’t know much about it but I polled a few colleagues and they love it!”

Did it hurt? I won’t lie, it didn’t not-hurt. It’s shots in your face along your sinuses. But it wasn’t dramatically painful—deep breath pain, not “hold my hand” pain. My face felt achey and a bit stiff the first night as the lidocaine in the mixture wore off (which made my upper lip numb for a few hours after injections). I iced it a little. It felt much better by far the next day. I was also a little bit wiped out by the evening the day of the injections. I think similar to the crash that comes after getting a tattoo (after the adrenaline rush from the pain and overall experience.)

Did you look weird right after? The weirdest part was the marks from the injection sites but you could only see them if you were pretty close to me. There were a few bumps in the skin up to a few days after but they were also apparent only to me and went away in a few days. No bruising.

How much did you get put in and how much would you pay retail? I got 1.45ml , or 1.5 syringes gratis. It would have cost around $1200 if I paid for it in her office. To say thank you I made a donation to Medical Aid for Children of Latin America, where Dr. Dickie donates her time.

How long do the fillers last? 12-18 months. Maybe trying to maintain them will encourage me to drop bad habits like chewing the insides of my cheeks and touching my face.

Will you pay to have them done again? Yes.

What about COVID safety? I know it wasn’t a risk-free endeavor, but Dr. Dickie has received both doses of her vaccine, she wore a mask and gloves, and we did it on her front porch on a cold breezy day with the door open. I had my mask off for about 15 minutes.

Are you worried about the vaccine interacting with them? The potential for reaction seems minimal, as I’ve never had a similar reaction to other vaccines. Dr. Dickie said that if I had the choice, seek out the Pfizer vaccine. “The Pfizer vaccine has not shown reactions with fillers, so choose that one. But the vaccine is so important; don't let fillers deter you from getting the vaccine” Also, I’m allergic to bees so already I carry my own Epi-pen and have Benedryl I can take if there was an emergency, plus, thank god for masks. I also, sorry to say, don’t anticipate it being my turn to receive the vaccine anytime soon but that’s another story.

Would you have gone into an office and paid money for these in the first place? I don’t know! I don’t know if I would have had these lines or noticed them if it wasn’t for COVID. It’s also very unlikely I wouldn’t have gone into a medical office just to get these in the age of COVID. But I am trying to spend less time focusing on the path not taken.

Did you tell your family? Of course. I had new information, a new story, which in this economy is more valuable than the Spice in Dune or gasoline in Mad Max.

What do they think? My kids were very alarmed at first that their friends’ mom put shots in my face. Then they completely forgot about it. My husband said with surprise, but in a good way a few days after, “I can tell the difference!” By Friday it was old news.

Could you feel it under your skin? Yes for the first week or so when I lightly pressed on my smile lines it did vaguely feel like something was ‘in there’ but not in a way that I minded. The first night I skipped flossing my teeth because raising my lips up to do it felt funny. If you’re an exercising-type person I’d recommend for a few days forgoing workouts where you do things like pushups or downward dog or burpees if you want to avoid exacerbating that feeling.

But how do you look and how do you feel about it? I used to look in the mirror and lift up my cheeks a little to see what my face would look like without those lines. Now I have that look without the lifting. It’s not that I look ‘younger,’ I feel like I look more pleasant and less frowny and haggard and so I don’t cringe from my own reflection. I took the crappy filter off my Zoom. The first week my smile seemed a scoche narrower but then it either went away or I got used to it.

Can I see photos?

Yes. These are all without makeup:

Right before my appointment:

Immediately after (you can see the injection marks):

That evening:

A week later:

Why aren’t you smiling with your teeth?
Smiling with my teeth is for a post-pandemic world. Plus, they are very brown right now. (At-home pain-free tooth whitening is my next beauty experiment.)

Are you a big skin regiment person aside from this? Have you used lasers and peels? Dermatologist-prescribed retinoids were the strongest thing I put on my face prior to these fillers.

Now that you got that done did you start noticing other parts of your face you want to fix? No. If anything I look more favorably on my face overall now that that tired-looking part is relaxed.

How do I get free fillers? Make good friends with a cool plastic surgeon/dermatologist who gets free samples, have your kids go to school together for many years, travel together, drink together, maybe recommend some clients her way, be very lucky, and never ask for them.

Any regrets? No, not so far. Not only do I love the results there is a residual afterglow of doing something solely focused on making me feel happier. A good of my pandemic has involved me panicking or hiding or recovering in the bathroom, staring at my own face, so it’s a treat to make that time a little more pleasant. And again, there is a certain thrill of going through a new adventure during these monotonous times.

Are you telling me that I should get fillers? No, I think you are perfect as you are!

Are you a totally different person now that you’ve had work done? Do you feel fake? Do you think you’re such hot shit?

End credits

I hope you enjoyed this subscriber-only issue of Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who sometimes need to stick needles in their face to feel alive. If you thought this would be helpful to someone considering something like this, feel free to forward this and encourage them to subscribe, or, better yet, buy a subscription for someone you love. Use this link to buy someone a gift subscription for 20% off between today and Monday February 15. If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions (about the newsletter in general or the fillers) you can reply right to this email. You can follow us on Instagram here and talk to other witches on Twitter, too. PS You may experience an issue or two less in your inbox this week and next, d/t no-school days.

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