Every now and again I read an article in a newspaper which hits a nerve with me. Just recently I came across one in the Telegraph by journalist Claire Cohen. Claire is not a personal fan of Botox but she raised some very valid points in her article which focused on high’ street chemist superstore, Superdrug, and their decision to supply Botox and filler injections to people aged 25 years plus. The article went on to examine how Superdrug is influencing how young people feel about their bodies.
Now, if you are not a fan of Love Island, you may not be aware that the programmes main sponsor is indeed Superdrug. No surprise you may think, when their prime demographic is the same as those interested in viewing this “reality” TV programme.
Two recent surveys were quoted in the article, those carried out by the charity YMCA. YouGov an international internet-based market research and data analytics firm.
Research from the YMCA was quoted that told us that 62% of 15-16 year olds feel pressure to look perfect (whatever that is currently), whilst the YouGov research was specifically concerning Love Island.
This research found that 40% of women watching this programme (aged 16-35) felt more self-conscious AFTER viewing, with 11% considering lip fillers, 8% breast implants and 7% Botox. And this is just one programme which a making this age group feel less confident than they should be!
Why has this made me put digital pen to paper?
The whole article reminded me of a worrying trend and future problem that as a medical professional of some 20 years, who now practices aesthetic medicine, I feel morally bound to comment on.
Body dysmorphia is heading towards crisis point in England. When people as young as 25 contact my clinic for radical changes to their face, I have to make a judgement call: Is what they are asking reasonable, is it based on a consideration or a whim reflecting one of the latest trends? Are they reacting to something like the pressure from a programme like “Love lsland,” or is this something more deep rooted and a possible good intervention to offer?
As a fully trained GP and medical practitioner, I am probably in a fairly good place to make those judgement calls, helping my patient become really aware of that they are asking, AND what I am prepared to deliver, which sometimes has to be a resounding no!
As a medical professional, I have taken the oath “to do no harm”. In some cases giving the treatment requested may in fact, in my opinion be the wrong solution for that person. In some cases I may offer alternatives, in some cases I may have to decline if the request is clearly the same impulse that drive young people go out and get a tattoo after a night out in Magaluf!
But it wasn’t just the on going problem of body dysmorphia that worried me about this future “product offering” from Superdrug. Nor was it the bargain basement price that they are offering. It is more the combination of the two creating the potential cosmetic “perfect storm”.
As the article put it so well, what happens if you make it as easy to buy Botox (a medical procedure) as it is to buy shampoo?
Botox can only legally be administered by a doctor, nurse or dentist as the law stands today, but pretty much anyone can inject filers. You don’t have to browse very far through YouTube before you see the dire results of badly injected filers. Side-effects stretch from the bloated trout-lip look to loss of vision; it’s that serious!
Just type in “Badly done dermal fillers” to see for yourself.
My concern is about how much consulting time, training time and opportunities to get really good are the Superdrug practitioners going to have, given the price of just £99 per treatment? For many,
this may make procedures affordable, but at what overall cost to health, both physical and mental?
Superdrug state that they will be using Nurse Practitioners, who will be qualified, and I am sure that will be the case.
In our experience, saving to have these procedures, gives time to really think about them, often prevents addictions than can follow with wanting more and more work, believing that it is improving looks (see Too Far Face blog) and saves very uncomfortable and expensive reversals, where they are actually possible.
At Somerset Cosmetic Clinic we are not the most expensive, but we do charge a reasonable fee to ensure that we can invest in the best training, time to consult properly and research treatments thoroughly. Every patient attending is given time and follow-through aftercare.
How will a high street Chemist be able to meet this when economies of scale are not what is needed here? And will that create even more of a danger to Millennials who are already feeling the pressure to be Instagram filter perfect?
Don’t get me wrong, people from all walks of life are treated in our clinic, and there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone be the best version of themselves they can realistically be, but we understand where the line should be drawn, what will harm, what is possible.
Chasing dreams created by “reality” TV shows and the desire for perfection is a rocky road we actively discourage.
And that do I think of the 25 year old starting point? I think it depends on the individual’s needs.
Our governing body, British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) are actively fighting against unqualified people administering dermal fillers and we fully support this. The cost of reparative treatment for cosmetic treatments that go wrong are growing and putting increasing pressure on the already stretched NHS.
The question is – after Superdrug who will follow next? A quick filler whilst you visit the supermarket… ?
Dear Dr. Ed,
Thank you for putting pen to paper, couldn't agree with you more on all the points you have made.
Self interest, profit margins, lack of professional conduct and lack of medical training made me very reluctant to seek out Botox treatment.
I'm very grateful that you sent me away the first time I came to you, as you were not convinced it was what I wanted. After my second visit, you were assured I was confident proceeding with the treatment and you as my cosmetic physician.
After nearly five years, I am still unwavering in my confidence in you, to do the best for me.
Thank you for writing this.