If you had told me when I was 21 that people my age would soon be getting Botox done without a second thought, I would’ve said you were mad. But now? I’d believe you instantly. Cosmetic surgery has been a huge thing for years now, but what’s worth noting is that the trend is swiftly moving from surgical procedures to the minimally invasive, with Botox topping the list.
According to a report released last year by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were a whopping 6.7million Botox procedures performed in the US alone. This was up by one percent from the previous year, and by 759 percent from 2000! But what’s even more significant is that the women getting Botox are younger than ever. It’s hardly surprising – it’s become easy and convenient, and you simply need to look at social media and the selfies of countless young stars to see that they’re all (clearly) doing it. It’s become normal. It’s almost become expected. But why?
We sat down with leading Dubai-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Jaffer Khan (a.k.a. the “King of Botox”) in his cutting-edge clinic Nova by Aesthetics to pick his brains on why women are opting for Botox at a younger age. Here’s what he had to say.
More and more young women are getting Botox.
I have noticed that women are younger when it comes to Botox, for sure. The number of women who are under the age of 30 visiting me for Botox is significantly higher than ever, without a doubt. I’d need to look at the exact statistics, but off the top of my head, the biggest group is between the ages of 30-45, but the 25-30 group is getting much, much bigger. Below that? No. But they’re all starting by 25.
The number of women who are under the age of 30 visiting me for Botox is significantly higher than ever.
Caucasian skin is thinner, and therefore wrinkles much faster than Asian or Middle Eastern skin. I really don’t like the fact that I now get young Asian or Middle Eastern girls coming in at the age of 25 or 26 asking for Botox – they don’t need it. But suddenly, they don’t want to frown. They don’t want to lift their eyebrows because they think their makeup gets clogged inside those lines. Should I turn them down? You know, I’m comfortable enough with Botox that I use it on my own family and friends, so there’s no hypocrisy in this.
There’s no doubt that it works for numerous purposes beyond cosmetic ones, but aesthetics is now the number one reason women are getting it. There is no surgery that’s going to fix dynamic lines once they’re there. I mean, you could cut the muscles in your forehead, but besides that, you can’t do anything else. If someone comes to me and they don’t need Botox and have no visible lines, I will send them away. I do it all the time! You won’t get a happy patient unless there’s the right indication. Simple.
Why are young women doing it?
Well, in terms of vanity, it’s down to habit. Muscular contraction, which regularly causes stress to the same part of the skin, results in collagen loss and therefore fixed lines. These fixed lines denote age, or a feeling of tiredness or a lack of freshness. Interestingly, nobody really notices that anything’s happening when you’re undergoing Botox because of its gradual onset of action and the fact that wrinkles disappear slowly. They’ll just say, “Oh, you’re looking quite fresh!” – not that you look “stiff” or “plastic”, contrary to what people say.
But it’s not all for looks.
We have to remember that Botox is used for many things, not just aesthetic reasons. For example, there’s hyperhidrosis, a condition in which people suffer from excessive sweating in the hands, feet, and armpits. Hands and feet are a bit more difficult to do as it can be quite painful, but the axilla (armpit) is almost painless. So, for example, patients who have true hyperhidrosis and are starting from the age of 13 or 14 will have Botox every four to six months.
It’s important to remember that Botox has been used for non-aesthetic purposes for a very long time. We also treat people who have difficulty with focusing because of one of their ocular muscles. If someone has reflux, you can block the cardia around the stomach and relax that. Botox is also used for quadriplegia, painful and involuntary muscle contractions, and even migraines. There are lots of medical reasons as to why we’re using Botox at a younger age too.
At what age should women consider Botox?
I don’t think that there’s any “best age” that you should start using Botox. It’s more about when you start seeing lines that are fixed on your face, which you don’t want. Remember, many women do – they see them as character! If you want to prevent dynamic lines, then you need to start sooner because, once the collagen has depleted, you’re looking at fillers to replace it.
For example, if I have really deep lines in my frown area because I never stopped the movement by freezing those muscles, which Botox would relax and make better, I would then need something else to replace the collagen that’s been lost, otherwise the lines won’t go. So, if you do Botox when you first see the lines and stop them then, you won’t need to resort to measures like fillers later. It is valid when people say it’s preventative. If you’re stopping movement, you’re stopping collagen depletion. Simple!
Remember that the thinner your skin, the faster you’re going to wrinkle – and I mean the wrinkles caused by movement, not natural aging. Smokers or those with sun-damaged skin will get wrinkly later in life. I will use lower dosages in younger people, whereas more will be needed for the older age group to stop that movement completely and get a better effect. In younger age groups, I can stop half of the movement and still get a nice effect, so I use half the dose. The older we get, the higher doses we need to block the muscles.
If women are afraid of looking “frozen”, they should just start with a small dose. If you still want some movement, you just block half. It’s a very important discussion between me, as a doctor, and my patients. I don’t get it when people come to me and say, “I don’t want to look like a blowfish.” Listen, you’re there and I’m there. I can show you what I’m doing. You tell me what you want, and I do so accordingly. Moderation, in everything, is the right way forward.
Always be educated.
At the end of the day, every practitioner has a moral obligation to treat the person in front of them as they would their own family. When it comes to training and ethical practices, that’s where I worry. In the UK, for example, nurse practitioners are doing Botox. Here, however, it’s highly legislated because only dermatologists and plastic surgeons are legally doing it. So, if you’re going to seek out someone who’s practicing Botox out of their apartment on the Palm Jumeirah – I hear about that a lot – then you can’t be upset if you get a bad result. You almost asked for it! We have much tighter regulations here.
The most important thing is always dialogue. Even if someone doesn’t want to book in for an initial consultation, I will always talk to them first to make sure they’re there for the right reasons, that they understand the risks. With new clients, I always underdose as some people are sensitive to it or they might not be happy with a full dose. It might be a bit of a pain having to call people back ten days later to put more in if they want, but at least they’re happy! I’d rather see someone happy and safe, even if they have to come back for more. Remember, Botox is never going to give you prolonged results – within four months, it’s gone.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Jaffer Khan, call (+971) 4 384 5600 or click here.