botox social media age

Botox isn’t frowned upon anymore. Photo: Envato Elements

Botox in the age of social media: How your timeline is getting younger

Celebrity Instagram has slowly given rise to a new normal within the cosmetic procedure world. No longer taboo, the practice of Botox is proudly openly flaunted.

botox social media age

Botox isn’t frowned upon anymore. Photo: Envato Elements

Botox hasn’t been a taboo subject for a while.

Going under the needle was once something frowned upon (no pun intended). These days, the cosmetic procedure doesn’t have anyone batting an eyelid. Instead, it has led to the rise of the post injectable selfie and fresh new filler Instastory.

Botox is one of the most common cosmetic procedures which involves injecting Botulinum toxin into an area of the body, usually the face, to reduce facial lines and wrinkles. It works by causing paralysis to your muscles which lasts for three months.

Patients usually tolerate Botox well.

A variety of medical treatments make use of Botox and it has few side effects. Ironically it is actually very poisonous.

“Botulinum toxin also called “miracle poison” is one of the most poisonous biological substances known.”

Botulinum Toxin, The Indian Journal of Dermatology

But this has not stopped its continued rise in popularity as both a solution and prevention to the effects of ageing.

The recent annual survey from The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) reveals that

The average number of surgical procedures has almost doubled since 2013 (up 47 per cent) with a 22 per cent increase in Botox injections compared to 2013, revealing that facial tweaks and treatments continue to be embraced and are sought after at a marathon pace.


Preventative Botox

I knew that one or two of my inner circle of friends have had botox but was surprised at the responses I received when putting my feelers out to my Instagram audience.

“No way! I had no idea.” was my reactions to all the respondents.

“It means I’ve got a good doctor,” was the retort.

I interviewed women who are all in their early 30’s, well put together and gorgeous.

They are not your stereotypical cosmetic surgery candidates: old rich white woman, forehead taut and unmoving, sporting that distinctive burnt orange shade of lipstick which matches her chihuahua’s collar and her spray tan.

For these ladies, this is as normal a part of their self-care regime as a hair cut. It makes them feel confident and was even likened to the everyday practice of applying makeup. If you apply foundation and base to hide your skin imperfections, why do hide your frown lines or better yet, prevent them?

It makes a massive difference to my face and makes me feel so much better about myself.

Rowan, Durban

Many of them had noticed familiar lines forming, similar to the ones they saw on their parents and chose to nip it in the bud and get a step ahead on genetics.

“Prevention is better than cure” said one woman.

Women in bath
Photo: Pexels

Referred to as “pre-juvenation,” patients want to remain youthful as opposed to trying to turn back the clock.

Our younger patients are controlling the ageing process and taking prevention seriously.

Phillip R. Langsdon, AAFPRS President

Selfie nation and The Kardashian effect

Every woman I interviewed said that they were open about their Botox use.

I don’t see it as taboo or something that should be hidden. I also feel the more people talk about it, the better service and quality you will receive.

S, Cape Town

We can credit celebrities like the Kardashian’s for lifting the veil on the topic of cosmetic enhancements. Kim has posted Instastories about her procedures and Dr Diamond, a well known plastic surgeon who has a following of 220 000 on Instagram, often has well know celebrities featured on his Instagram feed.

Millennials have grown up in an age where plastic surgery is normal.

Women taking a selfie
Photo: Pexels

Injectables are easy to have done if you have a lot of spare change and some free time in your calendar.

The relative ease of which you can get these done translates into how casual and blase people are about the topic these days – it’s as common and as widely accepted as going for a wax.  

Sure, the women I spoke to aren’t hashtagging #injectable and #botoxupdate along with selfies in the doctor’s chair but they aren’t keeping mum about it either.

I’m not shy about it, if people ask me about it I’ll happily share my experiences and tell them about my reasons for doing it. I’ve even recommended a doctor to a few of my friends.

Michelle, Cape Town

“I am very open about it. There is no shame in doing things to help your appearance. It’s the same as using makeup,” says Megan.

Botox bars

“Injectables” are now so mainstream that there have even been “Botox Bars” cropping up in cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Plump is a injectables bar that specialises in non-invasive treatments for the face. It is one of the growing numbers of establishments that seek to make the procedures more acceptable and less clinical.

We founded Plump to make the world of injectables more approachable, more talked about and more enjoyable.

Plump treatment menu
Plump Treatment Menu

These “Botox drive-throughs” welcome walk-ins, provide gifts cards for those who would like to gift a friend some fuller lips as well as offer monthly memberships. Should you wish, you may even gather a few friends and host an injectables party, complete with vegan snacks.

Now Botox parties aren’t something new and these gatherings have been taking place in South Africa as far back as 2010. However, they were privy to the hosts closest circle of friends not opened up as a Facebook event.

Hey Mickey Beauty House which is based in Cape Town, held a Botox and Bubbles Party way back in 2017. They used Facebook to create an event and advertise it.

We will be hosting our very first and certainly not last Bubbles and Botox party where the bubbly will flow and you can magically make those lines disappear.

Hey Mickey Beauty House

The guests were treated to facials and manicures and vials of Botox.

The risk

I think the benefits outweigh the risks.

S, Cape Town

But do they?

Not only do you risk walking away with a face that will be paralysed for a couple of months but you also risk infection, lumpiness, allergic reaction, prolonged swelling and bruising should your doctor perform the procedure incorrectly.

Botox users end up with ‘muscle atrophy or loss of muscle mass. This can cause an indentation in the temple and indentation in the forehead furrow line, which creates a shelf-like droop of wasted muscle.’ There’s also a risk of scarring from repeated injections, he noted, since “it’s not the filler, it’s the needle” causing trauma to the skin.


Psychology Today reports that the latest research also shows that Botox rearranges the brain’s sensory map of the hands.

It is common knowledge that when one part of the body is not working, another part is heightened to compensate. An example is an elevated sense of hearing if blind.

The “brain map” of the hands and the “map” of the face lie next to each other. Patients with facial paralysis due to Bell’s palsy or stroke have enhanced metabolic activity in the hand region of the sensory cortex so you would expect hand maps to increase after a patient’s face is paralyzed by Botox injections. But it doesn’t.

Your forehead and general facial movements provide sensory input to your brain. When you paralyse your face, your brain is deprived of the sensory inputs that are made by your expressions. This slight loss is enough to affect both your hands…

Currently, research has only pinpointed that the hands are affected. Researchers still need to establish if other areas of the body are too.

Woman applying make up
Photo: Pexels


Aren’t the above findings as well as the previous list of possible risks enough to at least get one to question if that perfect selfie is worth it?

Do we still want to rage war against ageing even though we have moved into a time where body positivity, self-love and acceptance is at its highest?

Then again we are also at a time where we are pushing body autonomy harder than ever before and showing the middle finger to anyone who questions our choices.

My advice? You do you boo.