Bo­tox, fillers, cos­metic treat­ments

The new norm?

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents -

it’s Jan­uary 2018 and Mag­gie*, 27, is at her best friend’s bridal shower. “Cheers!” cries the bride-to-be, in the cen­tre of the room. But in­stead of quaffing a glass of bub­bly, she leans back and closes her eyes as a woman poises a nee­dle at the side of her fore­head. Wait, what? “It was a Bo­tox party,” Mag­gie* ex­plains, adding that, since then, she’s had one ad­di­tional Bo­tox treat­ment at a clinic. “I wear sun­screen, I buy face creams. To me, Bo­tox is the next step and it’s now part of my beauty rou­tine.”

The new nor­mal?

Mag­gie* isn’t alone. Re­search shows a huge up­surge in 20-some­things get­ting in­jecta­bles in the form of Bo­tox and lip aug­men­ta­tion, as well as non­sur­gi­cal en­hance­ments, in­clud­ing der­mal fillers and jaw­line re­shap­ing. Over half (51%) of women aged 16-29 would con­sider get­ting cos­metic en­hance­ments ei­ther now or in the fu­ture – and by 2020, it’s be­lieved that al­most 1.5mil­lion of us will have had a non­sur­gi­cal treat­ment such as Bo­tox or fillers. “I con­sider get­ting Bo­tox as just good groom­ing – it’s like floss­ing my teeth,” says Zan­dre*, 22.

Gen­er­a­tion X may raise their eye­brows – or would, if their eye­brows could move. Be­cause one of the rea­sons so many mil­len­ni­als are ex­plor­ing non­sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures is be­cause their moms are do­ing it or have it done it, too. “We see a lot of mother-daugh­ter pairs in our of­fice,” says plas­tic sur­geon Dr Nor­man Rowe. And for some of the daugh­ters, the mo­ti­va­tion is get­ting a step ahead of the age­ing process. “Peo­ple start ear­lier,” agrees plas­tic sur­geon Dr Ti­jion Esho. “In the past, you might not con­sider these treat­ments un­til your mid-40s, now women in their 20s are more aware of the age­ing process and are do­ing things to halt it.”

Women like Lau­rie*, 26. “In­stead of fork­ing out hun­dreds on ex­pen­sive creams that might not work, I know Bo­tox can stop my frown lines get­ting any deeper. I don’t fear age­ing but I also don’t ac­cept that age­ing has to mean re­sign­ing your­self to ev­ery­thing na­ture does to our ap­pear­ance.” Not only that, but Gen Z and mil­len­ni­als who have grown up see­ing a der­ma­tol­o­gist, us­ing skin creams and hav­ing spa ap­point­ments such as lash tints, fa­cials, fillers and in­jecta­bles have be­come the next log­i­cal step.

“Mil­len­ni­als are more open to cos­metic pro­ce­dures than any other generational group,” says Jack Dick­ett, a se­nior con­sumer life­styles an­a­lyst at a global mar­ket-re­search agency.

His most re­cent re­port found that 28% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 31% of 25- to 34-year-olds have had some form of cos­metic treat­ment. “This age group is more knowl­edge­able about non­sur­gi­cal treat­ments, and what can be achieved with them,” says Dr Rekha Tai­lor, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of health and aes­thet­ics.

Ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy have also led to sub­tler re­sults, which, in turn, means less stigma sur­round­ing in­jecta­bles. Peo­ple are start­ing to re­alise that Bo­tox and fillers can be done, and still give the per­son a nat­u­ral ap­pear­ance,” says Dr Rowe. Of course, it’s easy to pin the rise of in­ter­est in cos­metic tweaks on In­sta­gram. “I feel so­cial me­dia has im­bued this very spe­cific, Bar­bie-es­que aes­thetic with big lips and a sculpted face,” says Kalani*, 43. But your feed might not be telling the whole story. Make no mis­take; scrolling through a well-cu­rated ac­count can make us com­pare our looks, but ex­perts point to a wider shift in cul­tural norms.

Air­brush­ing apps such as Face­tune (R3.99 on IOS and An­droid), as well as the con­tour­ing makeup trend, can give peo­ple a glimpse into what fillers or Bo­tox could do to their faces. “Con­tour­ing made me re­ally aware of my an­gles and, to be hon­est,

get­ting fillers was a less labour­in­ten­sive so­lu­tion,” says Ntswaki*, 42. But Ntswaki* is quick to point out she isn’t turn­ing to treat­ments to raise her self-es­teem: “It’s just a look I pre­fer, the same as I pre­fer plucked eye­brows and straight­ened hair.” That, say ex­perts, is the key change in at­ti­tude from ear­lier gen­er­a­tions. “Pa­tients used to bring in im­ages of celebri­ties as a ref­er­ence; now more and more pa­tients show us air­brushed and re­touched pic­tures of them­selves as a guide to how they want to look,” says Dr Jean-louis Se­bagh, a world-renowned cos­metic doc­tor.

Sil­i­cone = sta­tus sym­bol

In the ’90s and early parts of the mil­len­nium, cos­metic treat­ments were kept hush-hush for two rea­sons. First, the ef­fect was of­ten far less sub­tle. Sec­ond, plas­tic surgery pro­ce­dures were some­times seen as ad­mit­ting fail­ure; that your body didn’t live up to a ‘per­fect’ look. To­day, it ap­pears per­cep­tions have changed. The hash­tag #Lip­fillers has over 300 000 posts on In­sta­gram (as a point of com­par­i­son, #Stretch­markre­moval has only over 6 000) and for some women, in­jecta­bles have be­come an­other way to claim their body as their own.

Celebs play a part, too, in the way even con­ven­tion­ally at­trac­tive names, like Kylie Jen­ner and the Kar­dashian sis­ters have been open about their use of cos­metic en­hance­ments. No longer do celebs ‘ad­mit’ to hav­ing a pro­ce­dure; they openly share their rou­tine, which makes cos­metic aug­men­ta­tion seem si­mul­ta­ne­ously as­pi­ra­tional and part of the ev­ery­day beauty con­ver­sa­tion. (‘If she’s al­ready pretty and ad­mits to it, then what’s the big deal in me try­ing it?’) “When su­per-con­fi­dent peo­ple like Cardi B are open about cos­metic work, it stops be­ing some­thing ‘em­bar­rass­ing’,” says Jamie*, 21. “It makes waves. It means some­one like me feels em­pow­ered. If I want work done in the fu­ture, then I will.” It’s also less about the celebrity spe­cific look that some young women as­pire to, and more about their life­style.

While most of us may not be able to af­ford to live like a Kar­dashian, the face has be­come one thing women are us­ing their money to in­vest in, if they so wish. At around R2 600-R6 000 per ses­sion, de­pend­ing on the amount of prod­uct used and where in the coun­try you have it done, Bo­tox and der­mal fillers have be­come “a nor­mal ac­tiv­ity for peo­ple with ex­pend­able in­come,” says plas­tic sur­geon Dr Rian Maer­cks. Take In­drani*, 37, for ex­am­ple, who gets lip fillers ev­ery six months. “I’m not the type to buy an ex­pen­sive purse that I won’t use in a year or so. For me, fillers and Bo­tox are much more of a sure thing. I think it’s the same as pay­ing for a gym mem­ber­ship; it’s some­thing that gives you value ev­ery day.” Like In­drani*, many women con­sider non­sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures just an­other nec­es­sary ex­pense, the same way women 10 years ago may have jug­gled their bud­get to pay for a Brazil­ian bikini wax. “I some­times have to push all my bills around in that month to pay for it,” says Yolandi*, 25. “But it’s worth it and it’s my de­ci­sion to make.”

Dan­ger zones

While many women feel it’s had a pos­i­tive ef­fect, there is, of course, a dark side to the rise of cos­metic en­hance­ments be­ing per­formed. One thing prac­ti­tion­ers stress to their pa­tients, re­gard­less of age? “Non­sur­gi­cal does not mean no risk,” warns Dr Mary O’brien, a con­sul­tant plas­tic and hand sur­geon. Ex­perts worry that the lack of reg­u­la­tion in the in­dus­try (Bo­tox must be ad­min­is­tered by a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional, but any­one

can po­ten­tially get their hands on fillers and there is no min­i­mum age limit) could lead to neg­a­tive re­sults.

“There is, sadly, an in­creas­ing num­ber of un­scrupu­lous providers work­ing in the aes­thet­ics in­dus­try who are of­fer­ing cheaper prices for coun­ter­feit, un­reg­u­lated or di­luted prod­ucts, which are then ad­min­is­tered by un­trained, un­qual­i­fied peo­ple,” says Dr Shirin Lakhani. Dr Lakhani fre­quently sees pa­tients deal­ing with com­pli­ca­tions from past pro­ce­dures. “Of­ten they have been naïve and opted for a cheaper price over qual­ity.” Dr Lakhani and other plas­tic sur­geons stress that pro­ce­dures are gen­er­ally safe, as long as you see a qual­i­fied prac­ti­tioner. “If you’re con­sid­er­ing anti-wrin­kle in­jec­tions and der­mal fillers, make sure that you use a doc­tor or qual­i­fied prac­ti­tioner who is fully in­sured and has the med­i­cal ex­per­tise to keep you safe,” says Dr Lakhani, who ad­vises steer­ing clear of dis­counts or vouch­ers and in­stead choos­ing ac­cred­ited med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

But even with rep­utable doc­tors, there are po­ten­tially se­ri­ous side­ef­fects: rare com­pli­ca­tions of Bo­tox in­clude tem­po­rary droop­i­ness in fa­cial fea­tures, blurred vi­sion and breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Der­mal fillers can cause rashes and in­fec­tion and, in very rare cases, can move from the treated area over time or even block a blood ves­sel. Rare, yes, but enough to put many women off, in­clud­ing Harper*, 41, whose friend had to have her lip fillers re­moved. “Her lips were so swollen and painful for months.” Then there’s the thought of the chem­i­cals in­volved. “I don’t smoke, I work out and eat well to stay healthy, so why would I put poi­son in my face?” says Ge­or­gia*, 20.

The bot­tom line

While the role of non­sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures in the ev­ery­day lives of Gen Z and mil­len­ni­als may seem dra­matic, the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind an in­di­vid­ual pay­ing for these kinds of treat­ment is age-old. Peo­ple want to look and feel their best, and are us­ing the tools and tech­nol­ogy on of­fer to do so. But while the ef­fects may be tem­po­rary, is their place in our beauty cul­ture here to stay?

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