Dr. Baldeep Farmah is a cosmetic doctor, writer, founder of Dr. Aesthetica, cosmetics aesthetics teacher, and registered member of the General Medical Council.
At Dr. Aesthetica, we love dermal fillers, just not on 20-year-olds. In this blog, we'll explain why.
Dermal fillers have been exploding in popularity over the last decade. There's been increased usage in multiple countries all over the world in recent years including the UK where fillers are more popular than ever before.
However, this has not always been the case.
In the past, bovine collagen was injected into the face to fill wrinkles and plump up the skin. Since it came from cows, people with a history of allergies had to do a patch test first and wait at least three weeks to see if they had a reaction.
In addition, bovine collagen fillers had short longevity, often lasting only 3-4 months. This meant that fillers in general were not particularly popular 15-20 years ago.
But the introduction of HA fillers and refined techniques revolutionised the market. Suddenly, fillers were (relatively) accessible, non-allergenic, lasted longer (6-18 months) and patients no longer needed to be tested
Hyaluronic acid is a synthetically produced sugar that naturally occurs in joints and many soft tissues such as the skin and mouth. HA is also hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water, causing it to swell or expand.
It has quickly proven to be a great way to fill in flattened/ sunken areas of the face, smooth out fine lines or wrinkles, plump up the lips and contour the face with no downtime.
In conjunction with the age of social media and influencers, the use of fillers has become a part of everyone's normal beauty routine.
What's even better is that you can now have fillers without looking overdone - or feeling the pressure of having to keep it a secret. Good times we are living in!
So how does this relate to people in their 20s not getting fillers?
I have had many patients who are in their late teens and early 20s come into the clinic asking for fillers. The most common requests from these young adults are usually injections for lip augmentation, cheek fillers and Tear Troughs fillers to reduce dark circles under the eyes.
We also receive requests for other treatments such as non-surgical nose jobs and chin augmentations
And that's not really surprising
There's no denying that cosmetic fillers are becoming increasingly popular with younger people.
There are many reasons why this is so. I can think of two off the top of my head:
Videos and photos of facial filler injections are all over Facebook, TikTok and Instagram. With actual injecting procedures are now also posted in videos on social media channels, cosmetic injection treatments are often on full display.
We ourselves have a vibrant Instagram page where we showcase our treatments and our patients' treatment journeys and success stories. They may not be our target audience (the patients in our videos clearly show that), but it's a well-known fact that the largest demographic on many social media sites is young people.
So they are bound to interact with this kind of content. But that's not enough to get young people to have fillers. We also need demand, right?
No. 2 Demand
Blame today's photogenic and celebrity-obsessed culture.
Not only are many young people extremely conscious of how they look LOOK in photos, but they are also often obsessed with taking the perfect photo.
We all want to do everything we can to look our best for our Instagram posts, business profiles, dating app profiles, and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, many young people are dissatisfied with their appearance and would rather look more like their favourite celebrities/influencer with flawless skin and seemingly perfect facial contours. It is well known that many of these celebrities are getting filler and Botox injections and some even cosmetic surgery.
If you search the internet, you are bound to come across a lot of investigative articles tracing the facial transformations of celebrities over the course of their careers (we are, after all, obsessed with our celebrities).
Some people especially younger influencers with thousands and sometimes millions of followers don't mind showing off their glamorous filler results.
The knock-on effect is some of these young people who follow them are coming to the conclusion that they too need fillers.
So am I against people getting fillers?
Not at all, I run a medical aesthetics clinic! But if you take a minute to read our philosophy, you will quickly realise that we always put the well-being of our patients above everything else.
And for that, more times than not we don't recommend young people in their late teens or early twenties to get fillers.
Reasons Not To Get Fillers in Your Early Twenties (Or Younger)
1.) Once you start plumping up your lips or creating high cheekbones you may end up wanting injections on a regular basis for many, many years. Fillers really do work and produce impressive results! Many young people will respond, "That's exactly what I want!"But here is the thing.
If you "have" to be treated with fillers to feel good about yourself, that's not a good place for a young person who is still figuring out who they want to be. It is better to focus on your personal growth and self-acceptance.
Yet, young people are increasingly feeling pressured to look good and project a "perfect" image to the outside world. - using facial fillers and other cosmetic procedures to achieve this can often set up an expectation that is simply unattainable and unrealistic.
2.) If you start using fillers very early, that essentially equates to a lifetime of injectables or facial fillers. Even though fillers have been proven to be safe, they have only been around for less than 25 years.
This means that no one comprehensively knows exactly how getting fillers from the ages of 20 for the next 40-50 years will affect your skin. Maybe it's completely harmless, maybe not.
The point is that more studies need to be done and that will take time. So wait as long as you can, at least until the fine lines actually start to show.
3.) Even if you hear us often say in this blog: "One of the main advantages of fillers is that they are cheaper than cosmetic surgery", you must remember that this is a relative statement. Is treatment with dermal fillers cheaper than surgery, yes.
Are fillers themselves cheap? That depends! How do you define cheap? The average cost of filler treatment in the UK is between £250 and £800 per session, depending on the amount of filler used. There are also other factors, such as the location and experience of the practitioner, that go into the final cost.
Let us say you have your lips injected about twice a year and perhaps your chin augmented, that comes to at least a thousand pounds a year! So what does a young person do who is short of cash but desperate to have fillers? Often they will go to an unlicensed "backstreet" filler injector with suspiciously low pricing.
Many of such injectors usually have no formal training (blame UK current regulations on filler and Botox treatments) and often use inferior products. There is no strict law against this, despite the fact even though a lot can go wrong if facial fillers are not professionally administered.
4.) Fillers are primarily intended to correct age-related changes in the face, such as loss of volume and sunken skin. However, when fillers are used on a face that has not yet aged, they can distort the normal anatomy and lead to an unusual morphing of the face, actually making you look older!
All you have to do is look at celebrities or people on social media who have had a lot of work done, they look like they are in their mid to late 30s and many of them are still in their 20s. Remember, most of the studies that have been done on the efficacy of these filler products have been done on older patients with existing age-related skin problems.
Therefore, many cases of filler overfilling are usually reported among the younger generation of patients. The result is often that a younger face resembles an older woman trying to recapture her youth rather than the youthful, refreshed look you were trying to enhance!
The good news is that skin maintenance for the 20-30 age group is easier and less costly than for other age groups. First of all, there are a wide variety of steps you can take to maintain a youthful appearance.
Even when collagen production starts to decline around age 25, it may not be time to turn to fillers just yet. There are many other ways to achieve the same results.
One treatment we actually recommend for young people is microneedling. No, it will not plump up your cheeks or lips. But when it comes to stimulating collagen production, few treatments can beat the effectiveness of microneedling.