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Laguna Beach

Suddenly I have skin in the game: I’m hoping to lose a wrinkle (or two) in time


In recent years, I’ve been frowning a lot. Or that’s been the perception of anyone in my presence, because two deep back-to-back commas have punctuated the space between my eyes, as they do when most of us reach our sixties.

You know how it is, you’re sitting in your car, you glance in the rearview mirror, the sun is shining brightly – you see your face! – and the shock percolates throughout your decades-old body. 

Or you have your iPhone turned the wrong way and it takes an unexpected close-up of you. O, the horror!

Why not be refreshed?

Then an ad in Stu News (of course) caught my attention: A ten percent discount with Laguna Beach Aesthetics for Botox treatments if you mention Stu News. 

I knew quite a few people who’d Botoxed their commas into oblivion. And they looked just fine. “Refreshed” is the word you hear often. 

Why not be refreshed?

Especially as I’ve been so busy writing and editing that I’ve really not treated myself to anything refreshing for quite a long time. 

Yes, these days most of my problems are first-world, but then why not treat the simplest ones with first-world solutions?

As it is, I’m often asked, “Why the long face?”

Especially as then my expression won’t terrify small children. That’s good, right?

As it is, I’m often asked “why the long face?”

And so the justifications continued. I already give to my favorite nonprofits. I haven’t bought an expensive outfit in years. My kids are self-sufficient. And the advertising jingle from years ago loops around my mind. Because you’re worth it!

Submitted photo

I had to keep smiling to avoid the impression I was frowning at everyone… and my bangs were useful too

So off I went to see Dr. Adrienne O’Connell, of Laguna Beach Aesthetics, she of the soothing manner and beautiful complexion.

(More about Dr. Adrienne in the future as my journey continues.)

She suggested trying Xeomin, a product that’s been around nearly as long as Botox, but hasn’t gained the same fame – except now Christie Brinkley uses it.

With visions of Christie Brinkleys dancing in my head, I agreed. 

Xeomin differs from Botox because it doesn’t include “accessory proteins” and is therefore a purer compound, from what I understand. Some patients say the results are softer and less likely to result in a frozen look. And the few people who get headaches with Botox – a rare complication – tend not to get them with Xeomin, Dr. Adrienne says. She says both are great. I decide to be adventurous and try the Xeomin.

(Pronounced “Zeemen,” it reminds me of another life-giving substance. I shake off the thought. Coincidence, no doubt.)

Ten units and five days later, I’m looking, well, refreshed! No children have run screaming from me in the past 48 hours.

Photo by Terry Karmen

The most flattering photo I could find of my wrinkles, because I’m too vain to bare all to Stu News readers & you’ll never get to see the one I took in the full sunlight

And a bigger adventure awaits. I’ve decided to do a series of fractional laser treatments on one-third of my face (my forehead is disguised by bangs). Dr. Adrienne explains that this will even up the blotchiness of my complexion and remove at least some of my wrinkles, plump up my complexion. 

Vain, but hoping this is not in vain

There is some downtime, maybe three to five days, but I can manage that in my profession, at least for short bursts of time.

So I thought I’d take Stu readers with me on this journey, those who want to come along for the ride. I’m a little nervous, and a little abashed to be doing this, because I didn’t think I was this vain – oh, who am I kidding, of course I knew I was vain, I’m very vain! 

Truth is, I just didn’t want people to know how vain I am, and now you do.

The adventure begins next Wednesday. I’ll be giving you the full skinny about my experience as we peel back the layers of time. 

Laguna Beach Aesthetics can be reached at or by calling (949) 415-4310.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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