After a Fashion

The Style Avatar's Botox experiments -- and their eyebrow-raising results!

BOTOX DIARY I am raising my brows up and down and frowning, staring across the waiting room at three women who are squinting and smiling like madwomen, none of us saying a word. It's as if there is some otherworldly communication going on ... and there is. We've all bonded over Botox injections.

I got home late on Sunday night, and there was a message from my good friend Vickmay Quinn on my voice mail. "Steeeephen," says the familiar French accent, "I want you to cancel all your engagements tomorrow and come to see me." Well, I knew what she was talking about: At last month's First Thursday, she told me that, in addition to all her fabulous skin-care services, her clinic would now be offering Botox treatments. "Ooohhh," I cooed, "I'd love to try that!" "Then I will call you soon, cherie, and you will have it done," said she. I was a little nervous driving over to her place (Vickmay Skin and Body Spa, 1617-A W. Sixth, 478-1915, -- I'd heard horror stories, of course, about faces that became as expressionless as those of zombies, and other less-than-desirable results -- but I'd done my homework on Botox long before. I knew that, as with any medical treatment, Botox has many unpleasant possibilities associated with it. And, with my naturally very expressive face, I certainly didn't want to lose any ability to underscore my words (or lack of them) with some dramatic facial flourishes. But for every unfortunate incident I read about, there were hundreds of success stories, and I was definitely ready to give it a try.

Of course, Botox always inspires the question, "Who was the first person who thought, 'Hmmm, I'd like to have a highly toxic substance like botulism injected into my face to see if it will make me look 20 years younger'?" Well, whoever it was, I'm grateful to them, and I imagine they still look fabulous ... and what could be more important than that? When I told friends that I was considering it, I heard, "But you don't have wrinkles!" I'd gasp in exasperation, pointing out, "What about this? And this here?" They'd roll their eyes, writing it off to another flight of fancy on my part that would soon pass. It did not pass. I managed to retain somewhat youthful looks until I hit 40 a few years ago -- then the signs of aging accelerated, and to a certain degree I began to rue middle age. I've never been on any kind of quest for eternal youth -- no byzantine rituals, no rigid regimes, no gooey cream and cotton gloves on my hands at bedtime, no injections of cow urine, no sleep cures, no cosmetic surgery. But it didn't matter what my friends thought -- I was unhappy with the lines across my forehead and between my brows. I'd considered having Botox around my eyes, but in reality, there were no lines around my eyes. Yet.

The women in the waiting room ranged from somewhat younger than me too much younger than me. They were delightful, healthy creatures, with long manes, beautiful smiles, complemented by uniformly gorgeous tans ... and therein lies a big part of the problem. The sun had done its damage, and most of them, in fact, had more lines than I did (sorry, ladies). For the time being, anyway. One by one, we were photographed and led to the treatment room -- I was the last -- each of the others emerging after a few minutes and beginning the facial contortions. I scanned each of them closely to see if I could tell where the injections had been done -- in almost every case, I could not. Then it was my turn. The visiting doctor who administered the shots was, like Vickmay herself, an exotically beautiful woman with a lilting accent and an absolutely professional demeanor. After a brief consultation to verify that I was aware of any pitfalls, I laid back and felt the prick of the needle five times in quick succession. Aside from feeling the slight pressure of the solution being injected, there was no discomfort at all. I was told that it could take up to a week for the full results to become evident, and that I had to sit upright for the next four hours and vigorously exercise the muscles in my forehead to make the potion work its magic in the right places. That's the reason we all looked a little possessed. I left shortly thereafter, bidding my sisters-in-cosmetic-procedure adieu. I drove home, wondering if I would tell anyone I had it done. Of course I would! But I wanted to get a good look at the results first. Parking myself at my vanity table, I peered this way and that, and was shocked at what I saw. Where I expected to see a little redness, swelling, or bruising, there was none. Only on closest inspection could I see the marks from the injections. Most notably, 30 minutes after the procedure, the lines were already far less visible. Even raising my brows to their highest, I remained remarkably line-free. I thought that since the toxin paralyzed the muscles, my forehead might feel numb or stiff. It felt like nothing. I immediately raced over to my sister's to show her what I'd had done. It was immediately clear to her that the deep lines were radically diminished, and we sat down to watch a tape of the most recent Cheaters so I could do my facial exercises -- Cheaters is excellent for making your eyebrows fly up your forehead in surprise or knitting them together in a Celtic knot. Of course, occasionally I'd be caught gaping slack-jawed at the television, and Margaret would nudge me, saying, "Brows." The next day, the furrows were even less noticeable. Back at work, without my having said anything about the treatment, several people asked me what was different. I willingly demonstrated the results, and they were roundly praised as being amazing. By the third day, I'm a total convert to the Botox lifestyle, prancing around saying, "Look what I had done!" Next week, I want to have my glabella done (stop smirking right now! The glabella is the area between the brows!). And then the week after that I'll have ... well, we'll see. The effects should last for several months, minimum. Obviously, my visit to Vickmay's was fabulous.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD One of Austin's premier beauties, model Amanda Mellard, announces the debut of her little bundle of joy, Elijah Wolf O'Connell. Jah Wolf (more affectionately known as Goat Boy) was conceived on 9/11 and born, via c-section, on June 7 at 4:39pm. At 6lbs., 14oz., Goat Boy was 20 inches, with blue eyes and barely a hint of blond peach fuzz. As the proud mama says, "He's the Gerber baby incarnate -- now when's the next fashion show? I'm ready to work again!"

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Vickmay Quinn, Vickmay Skin and Body Spa, Botox, Amanda Mellard, Elijah Wolf O'Connell, Goat Boy, First Thursday

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