Social media has been named as the chief culprit behind the rise in young people seeking aesthetic procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers and now the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the UK’s leading independent plastic surgery association of which I’m a member, has been moved to comment on the situation.
Last month, a study published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics called for the UK government to provide greater protection for young people. In particular, they pointed out the vast amount of makeover apps and online cosmetic surgery games that were accessible and even aimed at very young children.
Furthermore, the rise of social media platforms that focus on ‘selfies’ which can be digitally manipulated before being posted for likes or negative reviews combined with a celebrity culture that portrays an unrealistic lifestyle and airbrushed images, contributes to a spike in anxiety and impact on self-esteem.
Professor Jeanette Edwards of the University of Manchester, who chaired the Nuffield Council’s research into ethical issues and cosmetic procedures, said: “There is a daily bombardment from advertising and through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat that relentlessly promote unrealistic and often discriminatory messages on how people, especially girls and women, ‘should’ look.”
The Council were focusing on those under the age of 18 that might be being pressured into these kinds of procedures and BAAPS agrees that there are serious concerns over how these treatments, particularly dermal fillers, are being marketed to Millenials.
A recent poll by WhatClinic.com found that almost half of traffic to web pages about lip augmentation were from visitors in the 18-24 age bracket and those clinics surveyed said that although they wouldn’t treat under 18s, they would provide fillers to those under 21.
Dermal fillers remain unregulated in the UK and, as a result, plastic surgeons are increasingly being called upon to treat complications arising from treatment. Despite many calls for the Government to introduce more stringent regulations of fillers and a whole host of other ‘minimally invasive’ procedures, patients still remain at risk.
Until new laws are introduced, the best advice is always to see a medically qualified practitioner such as a plastic surgeon that has the necessary experience to both produce the aesthetic results you’re hoping for as well as deal with a problem if it was to arise.