Photo used for illustrative purposes.
MPs on the House of Commonsâ€™ Health and Social Care Committee have warned about the dangers of a â€˜conveyer beltâ€™ approach to cosmetic procedures such as Botox and fillers, and called for more to be done to tackle the â€˜wide-reachingâ€™ impact on mental health caused by body image dissatisfaction.
â€œWe heard of some distressing experiences â€“ a conveyor belt approach with procedures carried out with no questions asked, procedures that have gone wrong, the use of filthy premises,â€ said chairman of the committee Jeremy Hunt, as a new report calls for change.
The report also recommended minimum training standards for people providing non-surgical cosmetic procedures and a â€˜cooling offâ€™ period after consent, before the procedure is carried out.
If youâ€™re thinking about getting Botox injections to reduce your wrinkles or fillers to enhance your lips or face, itâ€™s important to carefully consider your options and not rush into the decision.
Why do you want to change your appearance?
The first thing to think about is the real reason underlying why you want to change your appearance, beyond â€˜I want to look youngerâ€™ or â€˜I want fuller lipsâ€™.
â€œIt all boils down to wanting to feel better about ourselves,â€ says Nicola Vanlint, psychotherapist, BACP accredited therapist and founder of NV Therapy (nvtherapy.co.uk), and while nothingâ€™s wrong with that, itâ€™s best to view cosmetic procedures as small enhancements, not life-changing alterations.
Are you copying a celebrity?
If your desire for fillers or Botox is inspired by the pillowy lips and smooth foreheads of models and actors on Instagram, thereâ€™s a danger youâ€™ve fallen into the â€˜compare and despairâ€™ trap.
â€œIn the social media world, itâ€™s all about everybody trying to show their best selves, but weâ€™ve got to understand that comparing ourselves is only going to equal despair,â€ Vanlint says.
With the popularity of filters and editing, you never know if youâ€™re looking at an accurate depiction of a celebâ€™s face. Plus, famous people often have a lot more money to spend on aesthetic procedures, and access to the best surgeons in the world â€“ meaning your end result could be very different to theirs.
Are you expecting the surgery will give you instant confidence?
Itâ€™s easy to think â€˜If only I could change X, Y or Z, Iâ€™d be happy,â€™ but in reality, that might not be true â€“ and you could end up wanting more cosmetic procedures to mask a lack of confidence.
It may help to think about how you would respond to a friend who told you they wanted to get fillers or injections.
Vanlint says: â€œRather than necessarily asking others â€“ because then weâ€™re seeking validation from others, which can be a tricky one â€“ just ask yourself, â€˜What would I say to a friend?â€™ Then youâ€™re building on your positive internal dialogue.â€
Could you improve your confidence in another way?
As referenced in the government report, even non-surgical cosmetic procedures can go wrong, which is why itâ€™s vital to understand the risks.
And while a â€˜cooling offâ€™ period may not be a legal requirement yet, taking time after your initial consultation before booking a procedure could be a wise idea.
Vanlint says: â€œIf we have the correct knowledge and we actually digest that knowledge, weâ€™re able to make better decisions for ourselves.â€