That Time Diana Braved $12 Botox (And Actually Really Loved It)
My glamorous friend Alex (the owner of The Blue Heron on Isles of Capri, who played a starring role in my Sunglass Hunt post) had been nudging me for months to go with her for Botox. She waxed rhapsodic about her Bonita Springs-based practitioner Helga Girschik, noting her delicate touch and daintiness.
But really, who cares about that? I just didn't want risk deformity. It happened once before, circa 2003, with one on NYC's top docs who shall remain nameless. But if you've ever read a woman's mag or watched HSN, he's of that caliber.
I asked Alex if Helga was a doctor. Her reply was yes, she's a PhD in chemistry, as well as a BSN (a top nursing degree). Educated in Germany, Helga's enjoyed a long-term successful practice with her now ex-husband, a plastic surgeon.
To entice me, Alex dangled a huge carrot - a rock-bottom price of only $12 per unit. That's basically bargain-basement Botox. And that's where my confusion and concern amplified. I backed out of going three times since November, breaking-sweat nervous about it. I caught a lucky-for-me-unlucky-for-her break when Alex broke her toe in January, forcing the postponement of our appointment. Whew. Another reprieve (and another month of angst).
Let's just say I'm a chronic worrier. My husband notes dual personalities: Happy Diana and Septic-Tank Diana. Reader, this is gross, and TMI, but our first year residing on Isles of Capri, where we're surrounded by water and there's no effective drainage, we spent one paycheck per month flushing out our tank. #OldSchoolFlorida. Drainage indeed.
Usually Alex and I are on the same page on most topics (excluding the 2016 election), but in a weird way, I felt our friendship would be jeopardized if I backed out of the bargain-basement Botox yet again. This is a woman who lent me a car for three months when I moved here. I never needed one in 25+ years living in NYC, so I didn't have one. That's a friend. Though she thinks I drive like "grandma..."
With my husband away for the week, I stuffed $100+ into my bag, thinking that 10 shots should do it. (I was up to a dozen in NYC, but never paid because I was comped. My girlfriends were spending $500+ depending on how much they needed.)
Alex and I schlepped* (*Yiddish for tedious travel involving something heavy; in this case, I was carrying bottles of wine as a gift for Helga and Alex's clunky restaurant-resy book as she has broken yet another toe, and must use a walking stick) an hour via I-75, arriving at Advanced Laser Aesthetics, located in a fancy-schmancy industrial park.
Helga's office was immaculate, with several treatment rooms appointed with various lasers and other high-tech gadgets. We sat in the waiting room while Helga finished with another patient, and Alex bemoaned my paltry $100. "You need so much more," Alex said, pointing out my various facial creases. "Let Helga tell me what I need," I shot back. "She's the pro."
Simultaneously in my head, I'm thinking: I really hope she IS a pro.
After filling out a questionnaire, Helga and I talked, and she reminded me we'd met before at The Blue Heron. She looked at my facial movements while I spoke. She then asked how much I wanted, and I shared my $100-ish budget. My math was off though; the number of shots isn't equivalent to the number of units used. Though I still don't understand Botox algebra (units, vials, injections, syringes, yada), Helga was patient and thorough in her explanation.
We then talked aesthetics. I was seeking a gentle lift for my forehead, so subtle that my husband wouldn't notice upon his return. She led me to one of the private offices where she reclined the chair and voila! Seven shots (the "11s" creases between my eyes, plus the lower third of my forehead above my eyebrows), two needles and no pain.
It was the most gentle Botox experience I've ever had, with the least discomfort or irritation. Helga explained that injecting at a specific angle decreases the likelihood of bruising, blood and bumps.
Now that I'm Helga's biggest fan, I had to ask about spider veins, which she also treats. She examined my legs, recommending a sclero/laser combo. That will clock-in at approximately $700 per treatment, should I decide to partake.
A week later, my forehead looks relaxed. Not overly done, just expertly done! Natural.
Obvi, I'll return. If you live in Lee or Collier County, you, too may want to consult Helga. But be forewarned: You may not be a candidate for Botox, and if you are, you may require more (or less!) than I did. A consultation is the only way to suss all that out. Here's the link to her practice again: Advanced Laser Aesthetics. Good luck, lovelies!