Often associated with reality TV casts, the use of Botox and lip filler has moved off-screen, with statistics showing an increase in younger people going under the syringe.
The non-invasive cosmetic procedures, used to alter the appearance of one’s lips and facial features, or to smooth lines, officially became a billion-dollar industry in 2017.
That year, Australians spent 40 per cent more on the procedures than the US per capita, according to the Australian College of Cosmetic Surgery.
“When I first started, most of our patients were in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They wanted to reverse their ‘static’ lines and reverse the signs of ageing,” Dr Vivek Eranki of Cosmétique tells 9Honey.
“But now we’ve seen three times the amount of people aged 18-35 come in, with the largest increase in 18 to 25-year-olds.”
The Perth-based cosmetic surgeon says the influx is a result of two factors: preventative treatment, and a movement “propagated by social media.”
Linda*, 22, says she received her first treatment on her 21st birthday, opting for lip fillers because of her personal insecurities.
“When I put on heaps of weight, I became obsessed with looking better in my face to compensate for being overweight,” she tells 9Honey.
“My logic was ‘OK, I’m the fat girl but at least I’d be the really pretty fat girl’, which is dumb, I know.
“But one day I just decided one day, ‘I’ve thought about it for long enough and I still want them done’.”
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While Linda absolutely “loves” her transformation, she cites social media as a “huge influence.”
“You see picture-perfect women left and right, and I always felt so ugly and inferior. And then you see flawless women left and right, and it’s super hard to remain body positive.
“In the end, while social media impacted me, I wouldn’t say it was the driving force behind the decision. But then again, societal pressure drives most of these decisions these days anyway.”
Similarly, Savannah*, 24, has undergone a number of procedures, including lip, chin, nose and cheek filler, a lip flip and Botox, in part due to “social media along with reality TV.”
“The first time I got my first injectables was also the same day I first got my eyebrows tattooed. And because I hadn’t eaten the entire day, I passed out while they were injecting and had a seizure,” she tells 9Honey.
Since then, the Melbourne woman has undergone injectables of different varieties every three to six months.
Aside from enjoying the visual result of her procedures, Savannah says they’ve had a “definite” benefit to her sexual experiences with her long-term partner.
“Everything above my waist is fake, so I don’t see myself stopping injectables anytime soon,” she shares.
Dr Eranki says it’s not “uncommon” for young people to “livestream their experience” with cosmetic appointments.
“The younger generation is on Instagram and TikTok, and they have that second to show the world their interesting life.”
The total number of procedures in Australia in 2018 was 202,642, according to the ISAPS, with anti-wrinkle injections and fillers topping the list.
However, Victoria*, 27, maintains a “casual approach” towards cosmetic treatments.
Opting for smaller treatments to her lip and forehead, the Sydney woman remains aware that “perfection is impossible to achieve”.
Hating how her top lip disappeared when she smiled, the beauty worker says despite these things seeming minor, “looking at your own face every day” sparks a curiosity around “what you could improve.”
“I love having the choice to alter my appearance if I want to,” she tells 9Honey.
“I think a lot of people get carried away, projecting some misogyny on these elements of the beauty industry. I personally feel pretty good about it, I think there’s something really liberating about being able to alter things that I’m not happy with.”
Victoria notes the impermanent nature of the majority of cosmetic injectables offers a “fun” way to change your appearance, without going “overboard.”
“I guess if you told people many moons ago that you would apply peroxide to your scalp just to see what it looks like, I’m sure they would cringe,” she says.
“I feel like we are going to look at cosmetic procedures in much the same way in the future.”
Sofia, 26, was intrigued to try filler in her lips, cheeks and jawline when she discovered the procedures were “more accessible” than she initially thought.
“I consider it as an anti-aging procedure and I wanted to slightly enhance certain features,” she tells 9Honey.
“I have always been mildly self conscious/frustrated by the fact my jawline and cheeks were not symmetrical, so that did feel more like a ‘fix’ than an enhancement.”
Dr Eranki says the younger demographic is opting for non-invasive treatments earlier because they’re “less likely to go for invasive surgeries” such as face lifts as they age.
“There is medical evidence backing the preventive merit of injectables at a younger age,” he says, explaining the process of freezing the muscles stops frown lines and creases from occurring as frequently.
Alana*, 24, was prompted to try a lip flip and filler after being shocked by “how natural” the procedures looked when a friend tried them.
“I didn’t want to be leaving looking like an idiot. I don’t want people to notice. I just want to be able to be confident and smile with it a top lip!” she explains.
“I love the look they give my lips, but not the pain that comes along with the procedure!”
While Alana notes she’s prone to noticing “something different” to “fix or tweak” during her bi-annual appointments, she’s never pursued more options.
“I feel like the one thing I was insecure about is now fixed. Why would I change something I’d never noticed before just because I’m now sitting in a chair with the option? It doesn’t sit right with me.”
However, for Cartia*, 25, however, getting Botox is a matter of medical necessity, and the “stigma” associated with young women going to clinics places an undue pressure on her.
“I needed Botox in my jaw to ease lock jaw and clenching, this was a last resort and recommended by my dentist. It has been instrumental in easing jaw pain and headaches, and I regularly get top-ups,” she explains to 9Honey.
“There is a huge stigma and misunderstanding around Botox and how it is used (particularly from a medical perspective). I feel the need to quickly explain myself whenever I mention I have Botox!”
With an increase of younger people opting for cosmetic procedures, Dr Eranki says measures are in place to ensure the practice is done safely.
“We never touch patients under the age of 18,” he explains.
“It’s on a case by case basis. If we can do the procedure they want safely, then we will.”
As a rule of thumb, Dr Eranki says a patient has to “feel comfortable with the practitioner and a practitioner has to feel comfortable with the patient.”
Dr Vivek Eranki and Cosmétique follows the governing body, the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery, for best practice.