Botox users have been identified as a group at serious risk of mental health issues as coronavirus shutdowns cut access to regular treatments.
Approximately 15 per cent of people who undergo cosmetic procedures have body dysmorphic disorder
Australians spend $350 million on wrinkle-reducing treatments every year
Botox and dermal fillers are prescription only
Unlike more permanent surgical procedures, the effects of injectable dermal fillers for cheeks and lips, and anti-wrinkle treatments such as botox, begin to wear off after about three months.
With the nation’s cosmetic medical clinics now closed indefinitely, body image expert and clinical psychologist at Monash University, Gemma Sharp, fears for the welfare of regular users.
“They are more likely to have conditions like body dysmorphic disorder, which affects 1 to 2 per cent of the general population, but is closer to 15 per cent in people who undergo cosmetic procedures,” Dr Sharp said.
“We are expecting people with these disorders to find lockdowns to be extremely challenging.
“They may also take matters into their own hands and try to do their own cosmetic treatments with whatever materials they can access.”
Rush to beat clinic closures
Perth-based facial plastic surgeon, Jayson Oates, said patients rushed to his clinic in the weeks before coronavirus closures were enacted.
“Some were stressed and concerned, saying they didn’t want to be going without their botox or fillers,” he said.
“She was joking of course, but there was that desire to have things done while she could.”
Dr Oates also has concerns around a potential increase in DIY treatments, which he believes are a growing issue even before COVID-19.
Around Australia, the use of cosmetic injectables is becoming increasingly common, with Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery figures revealing an annual national spend of more than $350 million on wrinkle-reduction procedures.
With this in mind, Dr Oates says current clinic closures are an opportunity to introduce industry-wide screening of all new clients for potential mental health issues.
“Maybe this shutdown period will give us the opportunity to look at that and implement it as a routine for our patients.”
Shifting to a holistic focus
On Queensland’s Gold Coast, a city notorious for its appetite for cosmetic treatments, cosmetic practitioner Laura Malceski says patients have been surprisingly pragmatic about the closure of her beauty clinic two weeks ago.
“For the most part I’ve seen patients’ concerns and focus on physical appearance decrease.”
A registered nurse, Ms Malceski is redeploying her skills to work in clinical triaging for potential COVID-19 cases and hopes the reality of the pandemic will trigger a community-wide shift in focus to holistic health.
“Any ongoing social isolation has the potential to exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety,” she said.
“So it’s good practice for all of us to ensure we’re following a healthy diet and lifestyle, including regular exercise.”