What Nobody Tells You Before Your 30th Birthday

And what fillers have to do with it.

By: Laurel Pantin

Before turning 30, you dread that milestone birthday. Before 30, all birthdays ending in zero were thrilling! Ten—almost a teenager! Twenty—one year to 21! Thirty—oh boy.

But! Turning 30 is actually the best. I’m probably not the first person to tell you this, but trust me, it is. You get to have a big fun party, and you’re still close enough to your 20s to go completely nuts and party your face off. Thirty is glamorous—you’re at your prime in lots of ways, and probably earning enough not just to survive, but to treat yourself in a major way (maybe for the first time in your life). You finally know yourself (up until 30 I didn’t even really know what “knowing yourself” actually meant, I was so clueless), and you finally, finally stop putting up with pointless bullshit from people you don’t actually like. Seriously, it’s the best.

But then there’s 31. With the exception of 21 (and if you’re lucky enough to live to 101, or even 111—it’s the future!), no birthday ending in 1 will be fun ever again. 31 is decidedly un-glamorous. It’s likely at this point that your metabolism gives you the middle finger, and you start to understand why everyone told you to wear sunscreen in your teens. (If you happen to be reading this in your teens, WEAR SUNSCREEN!)

Thirty-one is when things like your 401(k), life-plan, marital status, and fertility start to become open topics of conversation with family members and strangers alike. It’s when shit really starts to get real. While it once felt like fun to complain about your puny hangover and whine, “I’m getting so old!”, when you’re 31 and on the second day of a pounding headache after a measly two glasses of Pinot Noir, it’s not cute anymore because you’re *actually* getting old. And yes, two-day hangovers aren’t a myth, they’re very real, and they’re awful.

Can you guess how old I am by now? I rang in my 31st year two weeks ago (happy birthday, me!), had a very civilized party (it was super fun—at my age civilized = fun), and decided to investigate the world of preventative maintenance.

About two weeks before my birthday, I got invited to a press event hosted by Galderma, the makers of Restylane. They were launching two new products: Restylane Refyne, and Defyne, which are thicker and more flexible than existing fillers, making them perfect for pesky smile lines. The whole thing was incredible and a story for another day, but it ended with a live injection of the product on an actual patient! Beauty editors stood around trying to *remain calm* while a total stranger had her face analyzed and then stuck about 20 times with a needle. It was thrilling.

That night I went home and listlessly prodded at my face. Maybe I was prompted by the event, maybe by panic over my upcoming birthday, but in any case, I was intrigued. I sat down with Dr. Robert Anolik, a New York-based dermatologist who, in his own words, “does a lot of fillers.” Great!

“There are several types of fillers, so there’s a lot of flexibility to address many different areas,” he told me. “Restylane Lift is firmer and ideal for mid-face, when you’re trying to get a vertical lift because you’re fighting gravity. Restylane Silk is softer, and it’s approved for the lip and little lip lines—it’s really soft and not at all nodular.

“Defyne and Refyne are different. They’re still hyaluronic acid sugar chains, which I prefer for use because it’s found naturally in the skin, and there’s an antidote. If there’s something we don’t like about the result, we can inject something else to dissolve it, which you can’t do with other kinds of fillers. These two types are flexible—they can bend away and then spring back into shape. Refyne is a little softer and more flexible, and Defyne is a little firmer and less flexible [and better for deeper lines].”

First: the bad news. Fillers hurt—but Restylane comes with a teensy bit of Lidocaine mixed in, so it doesn’t actually hurt that bad. There can be a little bruising, and the area can be a tiny bit sore afterwards. The other bad news? Fillers, unlike products that freeze your face (like Dysport), aren’t actually preventative—they aren’t *proven* to stop new wrinkles from forming necessarily.

The good news?

When most people start to see their laugh lines deepening, the answer is to plump up the upper cheek a bit. This creates a domino effect of good things: your cheekbones can look more defined, the lines around your mouth are softened, and it can also help ease the look of bags under your eyes, since your cheeks aren’t really tugging on them anymore.

The goal here, especially at the tender age of ~early 30s~ is to look perkier—happier, more awake, and just ever so slightly more robust than before, and that's pretty much always what ends up happening. 

The results are supposed to last around a year, which (considering the cost...and it’s steep) is incredible, and it’s reassuring to know that if you do come out of the experience looking...different than you’d hoped…it’s all reversible.

In conclusion—will it give you a major transformation? No. Does anyone *need* it (like die-without-it need it…)? Definitely not. But will it make you feel better if you’re sad about aging? In all honesty, maybe. Things like this can feel indulgent in a way that getting a massage or a blowout doesn't, and bonus, the results last longer than a few days. Should you do it? That’s a totally personal decision, but I will say if you do, seek out a plastic surgeon or dermatologist. You don’t want just any old “expert” with a needle injecting anything into that precious face of yours. Do your research, weigh your options, stop staring at yourself in the mirror, and trust your gut.

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