Caitlin Moran recently wrote that the beauty industry is, as all multibillion-dollar industries tend to be, built on trying to encourage profligate consumerist behaviour through unrealistic imagery, but what she didn’t mention was how the end-user intended to achieve that ideal. It’s, perhaps, not what you might think.
Increasing numbers of young women are having cosmetic surgery, with statistics showing a 5% increase in women in this age group having cosmetic surgery every single year for 5 years. Apparently, young women are largely opting to have ‘liquid lifts,’ the injection of facial fillers — usually hyaluronic acid — that plump cheeks and lift up sagging jowls. This treatment, combined with BOTOX, interferes with nerve transmission, freezing the muscles to lift drooping brows. Younger women are tending to opt for the short-scar facelift (SSFL), which involves the skin being pulled upwards and redraped over the bony structures of the face. Fat pads that have dropped with ageing are restored to their proper place. Described as a “miracle treatment for many young women who want to cut the effects of ageing off at the pass," it’s the “perfect choice for those seeking to turn back the clock.” People don’t want to wait until they look older, it seems, they strike in advance. So much for applying face creams and antiageing cosmetics for 10–20 years!
All well and good, you might think, although a poor lookout for the future of the personal care industry, but what happens when it goes wrong? Breast reduction for medical reasons is one thing; voluntary breast augmentation is an entirely different issue! I refer of course to the debate surrounding PIP silicone gel implants and the ongoing discussion about removal and replacement. Professor Laurence Kirwan, a recognized leader in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has said: “The practice of reconstructing breasts after breast cancer is a mainstream medical procedure. It is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to understand the resultant physical and psychological impact of removing implants without replacing them in women with PIP implants. Leaving implants out may also result in unacceptable scarring and contracture of the remaining breast tissue.” It would be harsh and churlish to argue with that, but how many of the PIP breast surgeries were actually performed as a result of post-operative reconstruction?
According to the website, www.implantinfo.com, you may be a candidate for breast augmentation
• to increase confidence and self-esteem
• if a you feel your breasts are too small
• to improve your body image
• to make you look better in clothes
• if your breasts are different in size and/or shape
• to restore lost size that occurs from weight loss or breast feeding
• if your breasts are sagging or have lost firmness
Most of which are hardly life threatening, and many of which I suspect are elective. I’m not going to add to the “who should pay” argument right now, I think that’s been and being covered enough. But, this cautionary tale must have implications for the wider personal care and cosmetic industry. More and more women, at younger ages, are opting to eschew the research, product development, intervention studies and proven results of the myriad antiageing, youth-retention products that line mile upon mile of shelf space around the world. They’ve either tried them and they don’t work; they don’t want to wait for the results to manifest themselves or we as a sector are failing to target and convince the very market share we’re aiming at. Instead, these end-consumers are volunteering for invasive surgical procedures that may, in the long-term, be cheaper, show quicker results and are currently perceived to be on trend … irrespective of the inherent dangers involved. Granted, no potion or unguent can dramatically reduce a large breast, but we’re not just talking about breast augmentation/reduction here, it’s facelifts, tummy tucks and beyond, all of which involve a scalpel … as opposed to squeezing a tube. So what are we doing wrong?
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