Working in fashion and beauty is a weird one. You’re constantly navigating the cracks and chasms between ever-shifting paradigms and trying to decide where you stand with regards to the week’s bizarre controversies. I’ve always had pretty strong views about beauty and body agency but in recent months, the onslaught of op-eds, vlogs and tweets about fillers and botox just floored me.
I wondered how I could ever make my mind up about this stuff with so much contradictory information doing the rounds. Everyone I knew had a different opinion on non surgical beauty treatments, and despite these kinds of treatments becoming more and more normalised, there still seemed to be a murky culture of shame and bad press surrounding them.
Not content with what I’d learnt from beauty bloggers and online women’s mags, I caught up with a professional aesthetician and plastic surgeon based at the Cadogan Clinic on Chelsea’s Sloane Street. A leading expert in surgical and non surgical beauty treatments, I asked Olivier Branford for his thoughts on why fillers and botox are suddenly so popular but why they seem to have such a bad rep…
‘I think that the worry around the cosmetic side of medicine is that some practitioners go into it to financially benefit themselves, not to benefit patients’ says Olivier. ‘Traditional plastic surgeons don’t tend to do fillers, but if you look at the data from last year, there was a 42% drop in facelifts whereas fillers are just booming. It’s people buying counterfeit product on the internet and doing a weekend course that are contributing to these numbers.’
Now, I’m guilty of spending a lot of money on skincare but a treatment like botox or facial fillers can be very pricy. I was keen to know why such an expensive set of treatments, given one that only lasts six months to a year, had managed to become quite so popular. Olivier told me that generally, people think about availability and price before they consider safety or quality, meaning many practitioners will offer cheap counterfeit filler at reduced costs and mess with patients’ lips by over-injecting non-licensed product.
‘Whereas I would use 0.5ml of filler for lip enhancement others will use 2ml and that’s how they end up with a trout pout. Most practitioners will tell you that the product doesn’t keep and should be used all at once so will inject the whole 2ml. The product keeps for at least two weeks so returning for smaller quantities is best.’
I asked Olivier why this sort of thing has come to represent the medical-beauty industry to such a great extent and why we never think of natural beauty when we think about fillers and botox. ‘Obviously the media shows us worst case scenarios and celebrities who’ve had dodgy work done but marketing also has a role to play’ he told me.
‘Dodgy practitioners do a lot of marketing so if you want to have a treatment and don’t know where to start, it’s likely that one of these practitioners will be more discoverable to you. Doctors who don’t aim for an image of natural beauty with these treatments are distorting our ideas of what is beautiful. As medical professionals, we’re responsible. Everyone is beautiful and no one needs these treatments but if you want them then it’s essential that you work on enhancing your natural beauty with safe quality results.’
Whatever your opinion and whether you’re for or against these sorts of treatments, the most important thing is knowing where and how to have them carried out safely and professionally and being able to recognise that fillers and botox don’t represent a particular aesthetic. A large proportion of people who’ve undergone these quick, un-invasive procedures generally don’t look ‘fake’ or ‘botched’ and it’s important to remember that. It’s also worth bearing in mind what an enormous confidence booster a treatment like this can be for some.
After my chat with Olivier I was confident that the negative stereotypes connected with and the shame culture that surrounds these sorts of treatments are things we should leave at the door when we discuss beauty. I’ve always believed that self improvement is nothing to be ashamed of. Your body is yours to do whatever you want with, though with that being said, you only get one body so being safe with your choices is paramount.
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