Younger & younger women are using cosmetic treatment as a preventative measure against early aging. Specifically about 30% of people who use Botox are aged in their twenties. Although this a controversial intervention for such a young age group, with many plastic surgeons refusing to provide this service to such people, this statistic is quite frightening.
Botox contains botulinum toxin, a protein produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botox is thought to work by blocking nerve signals to the muscles under the skin, relaxing them and preventing wrinkles to appear because these muscles are, for all intents and purposes, frozen.
For (generally older) people who do poses wrinkles the idea is that because the muscles can no longer contract, the wrinkles relax and soften. However younger people typically undertake Botox as a preventative measure. This highlights the concerning pursuit of eternal youthfulness that our society is currently plagued by. On an individual level, there are many worries about twenty somethings (and younger) using botox. Four of them?
- Long term effects. Botox has only been allowed since 2002 in the USA for cosmetic surgery. This is only 12 years old for these purposes!! We really don’t have a lot of information on the long term impact of this intervention.
- Cost. Once the treatment starts it generally needs to continue- a person in their 20s can would normally need to spend a few hundred dollars (depending on how much is treated- forehead, crows feet etc) 3-4 times per year ultimately spending up to $30000 on Botox treatments before the real wrinkles show up in their 40s.
- Side effects. These can include swallowing, speaking or breathing, plus symptoms of botulism, including muscle weakness, according to the company website.
- Rogue clinicians. Younger people tend to have less financial resources and are therefore more likely to choose options that are cheaper. Whilst Botox itself is a prescription only drug in Australia, a clinician does not need to have medical training to inject it. This means that there are rogue clinicians out there who perform this treatment without the qualifications or experience necessary to inject it safely.
Choice magazine offers a good summary.
Many plastic surgeons claim it does more harm than good and suggest young people simply invest their money in sunscreen! BodyMatters Psychologist Sarah McMahon spoke in this months edition of Cleo magazine about her concerns.