It’s no longer uncommon to hear about women in their twenties and early thirties visiting a plastic surgeon for Botox, fillers, and other procedures — two millennial women defend their choices.
Jennifer*, 24, from New York City, who asked that her name be changed, says she was 23 when she opted for her first plastic surgery procedure — a laser facial called Clear + Brilliant that fights signs of aging and gives you a healthy and radiant glow. While receiving a treatment, the offer of Botox was made and, curious, Jennifer agreed to spend $250 for a small amount to be injected into her forehead to smooth fine lines. She has since had three rounds of Botox and admits that, while she didn’t have actual wrinkles on her skin beforehand, the procedure makes you look as if you are wearing airbrushed makeup.
“It’s not like it was in the ’90s,” she says of plastic surgery. “Your face doesn’t look frozen.”
Jennifer has also had lip fillers to increase the volume in her top lip, a procedure she says required about 10 days of downtime, but still didn’t look unnatural and wasn’t immediately obvious to her family and friends.
And, speaking of family, what does her mom think about all of this?
“My mom said, ‘I can’t believe you’d do that to yourself, you’re beautiful,'” Jennifer says. “But she’s so old-fashioned.”
In her mom’s defense, once upon a time, plastic surgery belonged to real-life Real Housewives, celebrities and Fifth Avenue dames who could afford to nip and tuck prior to The Met Costume Institute Gala. Similar to how Edwardian society dictated that only the wealthy should have access to couture, the unspoken understanding was that in-office procedures separated the haves from the have nots. And, notwithstanding the occasional Beverly Hills teen’s nose job, it was also strictly the domain of mature women who had earned their wrinkles and were in the position to then say, thanks, but no thanks, I’ll be giving these back now.
But the plastic surgery industry has changed dramatically in recent years — some say for the better, since relatively affordable procedures like Botox and fillers have created a more democratic atmosphere in which a greater number of people from various socio-economic backgrounds, including young women like Jennifer, can adjust their appearances in ways that bolster their self-confidence. But others question whether we’ve gone overboard and if young celebrities like Kylie Jenner and our selfie-obsessed culture are to blame for driving more and more women in the twenties and thirties to visit a plastic surgeon’s office for anti-aging procedures they, arguably, don’t even need yet.
When asked whether the youngest Jenner sibling influenced her decision to have lip fillers, Jennifer said she had never really thought about it, but that perhaps simply knowing a woman around her age had plastic surgery made it more acceptable to her and her peers, many of whom she says have also had Botox and procedures to help stop aging before it starts.
“If it’s natural and safe to do there’s nothing wrong with it,” Jennifer says. She would also like the stigma attached to plastic surgery to be lifted and says her message to other young women is: “Don’t feel pressure to just accept the way you look just because people think it’s bad to want to make changes. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and you should be happy with what you see.”
Dr. Stafford Broumand, board certified plastic surgeon at 740 Park Plastic Surgery, says about one-third of his patients are millennials and that he believes media is playing an increasing role by informing younger women, specifically, that plastic surgery can be helpful, easy and beneficial for their appearance, well-being and work-related progress.
As for what they’re asking to have done — the procedure requests vary greatly.
“Most young women are looking for fat reduction by liposuction for problematic areas,” Broumand says. “Breast surgery, either to make the breast look moderately larger to feel in balance/proportion or breast reduction to relieve and eliminate back, neck, and bra strap pain. Younger patients also opt for breast reduction surgery because of the negative stigma of too large, pendulous breasts. They also come in frequently for Botox to remove forming wrinkles, and filler for deeper wrinkles and lip augmentation.”
Like Jennifer, Ava, 28, from Wayne, N.J., who also asked that her real name not be used, has had Botox on her forehead, laser facials and rhinoplasty, which was the first procedure she had done when she was 16.
“My visible difference was huge and it affected my confidence a lot at a fragile time (high school),” Ava says. “Just goes to show you how bad I wanted it, because it’s not easy to step back into high school after a school break looking different and trying to deny it.”
Since her teen years, Ava has turned to Botox, which she receives about two times a year, both to promote a smoother complexion and help prevent the formation of new fine lines and wrinkles — something the paralysis effect of the botulism can do by actually training the muscles in your forehead not to “lift” in a way that creates new lines.
“I was inspired to get Botox as a precaution to aging — not a crazy amount, just to my forehead and because I was curious,” Ava says. “I went with a friend and we thought it was fun and had lunch after. I also feel it’s become very trendy. I’ve heard of people having Botox parties at their house! I looked very ‘refreshed’ after, as a couple of people told me.”
In addition to using Botox as a preventative measure, Dr. Norman M. Rowe of Rowe Plastic Surgery says young patients are also using it to control sweating in armpits/ hands/feet — or even, more recently, in the scalp to help blowouts last longer.
“Many of the young women bring in celebrity photos and ask if they could get the same done or expect the same results after a procedure,” Rowe says. “That, however, is not only the young women — many older women refer to celebrities and ask if they could look or sometimes not look like them.”
The increasing number of non-invasive procedures, including chemical peels, fractional/fraxel facials that eliminate acne scars and improve skin texture, as well as minimally invasive fillers, has resulted in Rowe seeing about 15-20 percent more young patients in his office, compared with 10 percent from the past.
It’s certainly a brave new world out there and we may find, in a few years’ time, that plastic surgery is viewed as little more than another skin care tool, not like retinol and glycolic peel pads, that we add to our regimen. But, for now, the stigma has yet to be lifted, as is evident by these two young women not yet feeling comfortable enough to reveal their identities. It’s only a matter of time before that changes.