In an ABC show in the US a couple of years ago, women in there 20s, one young lady being 22, were asked about their attitude to Botox injections. Their enthusiasm was obvious. They wanted to act preventatively, and were not interested in developing the lines and wrinkles women in their 40s were complaining about. However, an American Plastic Surgeon interviewed on the same show had a very different attitude. He was very discouraging of cosmetic treatments among the 20 year old set, stating that “if it isn’t broken, we shouldn’t be fixing it”.
Should women in their 20s and 30s consider cosmetic injections? I feel that this issue is not black and white. I disagree with my American colleague who is adamant that these treatments are always wrong in this age group. You need to evaluate each individual carefully. Even in one’s 20s, it is possible to see the early signs that suggest someone is at risk for premature aging. If someone is genetically predisposed, for example, with very fine , thin , fair and dry skin, they may go on to look older earlier in life. Certain structural features , for example a sunken mid-face, bony injury to a cheek, a small jaw or tooth loss can all result in the early development of volume loss and lines and wrinkles. Starting with small amounts of cosmetic injections, infrequently, can be preventative, and can mean that a given individual may require less extensive treatments later on, and enjoy an overall better result for many years to come.
It’s also important to remember the modern approach to cosmetic injections isn’t just about treating lines and wrinkles. It’s about enhancing one’s overall appearance, and of course ultimately it’s about enhancing self esteem. So, for example, many of my young patients see me for treatment of a subtle but bothersome facial asymmetry that can be corrected by injections, as, for example, when one brow sits higher than another. Lip augmentation is another commonly performed procedure in the younger patient, and can look really lovely when it is subtle, and improves the overall proportion of the face. Filler injections to alter nose shape, and improve nose symmetry is yet another example of something that is easily done in the young, and I would say that I think it is much better for a young person, who is at that stage of life when appearance can be so important, to deal with this sort of thing early rather than spend years being self conscious.
However, there are occasions when I resist a patient’s desire for early cosmetic treatments. Young people with good complexions and solid facial architecture, no early sun damage, and no early visible signs of lines or wrinkles are probably wasting their time and money getting injections early, when it may be years before they will really benefit from them.
That’s not to say there aren’t things they should definitely be doing if they want to stave off signs of aging. I think it is interesting that some surveys reveal only a small percentages of young women are interested in aesthetic skin treatments like microdermabrasions and peels, and even fewer are opting for good skin care and sunscreen. Most cosmetic physicians believe that good skin care, including high quality ‘medical grade’ at-home creams coupled with periodic exfoliation will help maintain a youthful looking skin as we age. Unfortunately, many young women are still quite keen on looking tanned and it’s often an uphill battle to persuade them of the significant health risks, not to mention aging risks, that are associated with overexposure to UV radiation. A spray tan is a good substitute for the real thing, and other treatments like Peels or Photofacials, have many of the perceived benefits of a tan, in that skin looks more even toned, brighter, and smoother, but these options are healthy for the skin instead of damaging.
Leaving aside skin issues for a moment, and looking more broadly at what procedures are popular among those in their 20s and 30s, body contouring, tummy tuck and breast surgeries all rank highly. When Beauty For Life respondents were asked “Which part of your body are you most concerned about,” 37% in the 30s age range chose abdomen & hips, and 18% chose breasts as their top concern. Liposuction, breast reduction, tummy tuck and breast augmentation are all quite popular among many of the young women I see, and these are among my happiest patients after surgery. People in their 20s and 30s don’t attach any stigma to cosmetic procedures. They proceed from the premise that physical attributes are important to how we feel about ourselves, and they have no hesitation taking charge and instituting change when they can.