Botox comes of age

Related tags Treatment United kingdom

With clinics in the UK reporting a huge influx of clients seeking
Botox treatments in the run up to Christmas, specialists are now
reporting that an increasing number of younger people are now using
it as a preventative treatment. Simon Pitman reports.

As with any holiday season the Harley Medical Group​, one of the UK leading cosmetic surgery specialists in the UK, has reported a massive run on clients seeking non-surgical cosmetic treatments to treat age-related symptoms at its ten clinics throughout the country. Indeed, in the first two weeks of December the group said that the number of people having injectable treatments - which also includes Reftylane and Collagen - had increased by 150 per cent compared to the same period in 2003.

"What people are picking up on is the fact that, at £260 (€370) a session it is a relatively affordable, non-surgical treatment that can be carried out in comfort and with ease,"​ said Claire Painter, clinical nurse specialist at the Harley Medical Group's Leeds branch.

"This treatment is helping people to postpone facelifts by around ten years. Instead of paying around £6,000 for this procedure and having to take two weeks off work, clients are able to make an appointment for their lunch hour and in most cases side effects are absolutely minimal."

Doctors first began to use Botox in the 1950s to treat facial twitches. The injections comprise tiny amounts of bovine-sourced poisons that were used to freeze the facial muscles and in turn prevent spasms. However, in administering the treatment it was also discovered that the treatment helped to minimise wrinkling.

Botox started to be used as an anti-wrinkle treatment in the US some ten years ago, since then it has evolved in to a multi-million dollar business. But, as is often the case with both cosmetic and surgical treatments, the UK has been the first European market to take up on the treatment.

"We first starting offering the treatment four years ago, making us one of the pioneers in Europe,"​ said Painter. "At first people were coming from all over Europe to have the treatment done in the UK, but now it has become more and more widespread, with clinics offering the treatment in places all over France, Germany and Italy."

In the first instance Botox proved to be particularly popular for women in the 40 to 60 age group. However, as the treatment has become more and more popular, so too has the diversification of people taking up on the treatment. Painter highlighted the fact that now approximately 30 to 40 per cent of her clients are now men and that, likewise, her clients are getting younger.

"Now we are starting to see increasing numbers of clients in their late twenties and 30s,"​ Painter said. "What is interesting about this group is that they are not necessarily seeking the treatment for existing signs of ageing. Often they want it as a preventative measure, the idea being that it will help prevent wrinkles occurring in the first place."

The treatment, which has to be administered by a qualified professional, lasts anything from eight weeks to eight months, depending on how individuals react to the injection. Painter says that in the UK it is used to treat 'anger' lines on the forehead and crow's feet around the eyes.

"In the US use of the treatment does seem to be more liberal though and there is a growing number of people who are having the injections to treat signs of ageing around the mouth,"​ she said. "We would not carry out the procedure on this area of the face because of the risk of undesirable effects, as it can restrict lip movement."

In 2003 an estimated 2.9 million Botox injections were administered in the US, and demand for the treatment is still growing. In Europe demand is growing at an equally rapid rate, but, despite there being no official figures for the number of injections administered, industry experts believe that the numbers still represent a fraction of those in the US market.

Although use of the treatment is unlikely to be as widespread as it is in the US, with take-up of the treatment burgeoning in the UK and continuing to grow, it will not be long before similar levels of use are seen elsewhere in western Europe. And as more males and younger people take up on Botox, the scope for the market there means it looks set to become a multi-million euro industry to rival that of the US.

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