Sure, it would be great to look younger. And maybe Botox can help in that regard. But, shit, what if you end up looking like Nicole Kidman? Her beautiful face is frightening and mesmerizing to watch, if only because of its sheer lack of mobility. Dr. Howard Sobel explains how you can get Botox and still look like a human being.

Why does Nicole Kidman look as though she is made of wax?

I can’t comment on Nicole Kidman specifically. I can tell you why some people look frozen. The way Botox works is that it makes the muscles not contract. However, you don’t have to hit all the muscle groups. You can hit some and stay a little higher on the forehead, which will let someone move their eyebrows. You really want to allow some movement. I think everything in life is moderation. In my office, we stay a little higher above their eyebrows so they maintain some expression.

Does anyone want to look like Nicole Kidman? Do people come in and say “make my face look like a giant shiny glacier?”

Some people do look at movie stars and they like that frozen look. Some people probably think that having no lines on their face makes them look younger. But look at a baby! When they smile or lift their face, they do have little lines. Even after you do Botox there are some lines that are still etched into the skin.

I get actresses in here, and they need to have some movement. Actresses need to frown! They need to show some expression or they won’t get the parts they want. Some people though, they don’t want to move anything. I personally don’t love that look – they look like mannequins. With Botox you do restrict the face’s movement, but I think you still want some facial movement.

How can one get Botox and not look plastic?

You want to put a small amount of the solution in each area. You want to put small amounts in each muscle group, so it lasts 3 to 4 months. If you put too much in, there are problems. The solution can drift downward, and it gets to muscle groups where you don’t want it to get. That’s how people end up with droopy eyelids! If you put too much in the forehead area, or the muscle where you frown, you’ll get into the muscle, which is where you get droopy eyes.  Aim for small amounts over the whole forehead area.

What do you recommend in terms of spacing appointments?

It really depends. Botox lasts about 3 months. Most people come in anywhere from 3 to 5 months. It depends on how their muscles are, it also depends on how frozen they want to be. Some people don’t care as much. Some people believe you should continue to use it because the muscle atrophies, if you continue to do botox the space may be less.

What’s a good age to start getting Botox?

I don’t know. Do you start as a teenager? That seems silly. In your 20’s? Well, look at your parents. They’ll give you an idea of the kind of lines you’ll get. Eventually those lines will become etched in, but I guess you start when it starts to bother you.

My face is currently pretty line free. If I start Botox now, will it be alabaster smooth forever? How well does this whole “preventative Botox” business really work?:

Well, it will stop you from wrinkling your face, by doing things like furrowing your brow. And wrinkling is one thing that causes wrinkles. But there are so many other factors. The sun will still age your skin, and it depends a lot on that. The sun is a huge thing. So, depending upon whether you tan, or wear sunscreen, that will have a big impact on how your skin looks. Another big factor is where you live. Do you live in a polluted area? And there are hereditary factors.  Also, of course, whether you’re a smoker. Botox is one of the many factors, it will help muscles not contract so you won’t see those wrinkles, but it’s one of many.

How should you go about deciding on an appropriate doctor? Go on the Botox website and they have a list of doctors. The list is extensive and goes by area. And ask a friend. See a friend who got Botox that you like. Doctors do it in different ways, and when you get in, tell the doctor how you want to look. Be specific. And talk about it with people. Go out to lunch – I guarantee you, one of your friends has Botox. Talk to them.

Can you think of any celebrities who you suspect have had Botox that seem like a better example of how it can look?

If Botox looks good, you don’t know they did it. A person looks natural, looks younger, but doesn’t look like they’ve had Botox. If you can look at someone who had good Botox, you’ll realize that it’s something that strangers don’t pick up on.