Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Plastic surgeons caution young women about ‘Barbie Botox’ craze

- LEBOHANG MOSIA lebohang.mosia@inl.co.za

DOCTORS warn that the “Barbie Botox” fad, which has women as young as 20 rushing to get toxin-based operations to replicate actress Margot Robbie’s appearance in the movie, may cause “resistance” among them and impede medical use in the future.

Doctors frequently use a treatment known as “Trap Tox” to inject a class of medication­s known as botulinum toxins, including Botox, into the trapezius muscles of the upper back to treat migraines and shoulder pain.

But there has been a rise in demand for its use as cosmetic surgery since the premiere of the Barbie movie in July. On TikTok, the hashtag BarbieBoto­x had 12 million views.

The actress who plays Barbie, Margot Robbie, was somehow given credit for the alleged neck-slimming effects of the operation. The technique was initially developed to help relieve the strain on the trapezius muscles, which can lead to headaches and excruciati­ng neck stress. It is now used off-label to lengthen the neck and cosmetical­ly reduce the size of the shoulders. And on social media, it’s gaining popularity.

However, it’s not being used to treat wrinkling or loose skin here: the women desire a neck that is smaller and more sculpted, according to the president-elect of the Plastic Surgery Foundation, Scot Glasberg, in a Business Day news video on YouTube.

The use of the injection in the trapezius is “off-label” because only operations affecting the face are permitted to use such injections for cosmetic purposes. Health experts must determine whether “off-label” uses are “medically appropriat­e”, according to the US Food and Drug Administra­tion.

The market for toxin-based injections, traditiona­lly preferred by those over 40, is thought to be worth over $3 billion (about R56bn) in yearly sales in the US alone, according to Reuters.

According to Precedence Research, the market for facial injectable­s could more than double in the next 10 years, reaching $36.8bn by 2032.

The Internatio­nal Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found that since 2017, the use of minimally invasive procedures like Botox and fillers has increased by 54.4%.

The doctors express concern about a younger demographi­c using Medispas more frequently, and six of them warn that treatments performed by unqualifie­d employees at some of these facilities increased the risk of “consequenc­es”.

The type of doctor who can operate a Medi-spa is not subject to any restrictio­ns. In theory, a family physician or an obstetrici­an-gynaecolog­ist can start a Medi-spa, and increasing­ly, nurse practition­ers and physician assistants are also administer­ing injections.

According to a cosmetic study published in the National Library of Medicine, Botox can fully paralyse the muscle if it is applied incorrectl­y or at the wrong dosage.

On rare occasions, the neuro-toxin may move away from the injection site, weakening the nerve connection­s to nearby muscles.

According to health influencer and licensed physician @therealtik­tokdoc, “especially if it’s around the neck, that can be quite significan­t because it can affect your ability to hold your head up properly”.

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