If you're following beauty influencers on Instagram or YouTube, you may have noticed that they (should) now include a disclaimer when using or talking about products they have been #gifted by brands for free. Now though, cosmetic doctor, Dr Tijion Esho of ESHO Clinic, says that the same transparency should extend to cosmetic procedures, like Botox and filler.
Dr Esho stressed the importance of enforcing rules and regulations on social media for safety and ethical reasons. "Consumers are becoming savvier to influencers receiving product and experiences in return for content, but what isn’t always clear is whether their filter-free face is actually filler-free. Interestingly, there is currently no legislation surrounding whether people should declare if they’ve had a free procedure," he said, adding that perhaps a special hashtag may be needed for the protection and wellbeing of consumers booking in for procedures.
Dr Esho continued: "For the same reason that people need to declare if products are an advert, they need to do the same for treatments." His reasoning is that this way, social media users will be aware that a procedure was given for free and why. "If it’s because the clinic wants to show ethical ways of treating people, the pros and cons of a treatment and how to get a good result, then great," Dr Esho added. "If the patient is just having the treatment because it’s free and the clinic simply wants exposure, then it becomes very wrong."
Worryingly, Dr Esho mentioned that in some cases, these procedures are being performed by people with little to no experience. Why? They are targeting influencers who may be impressionable, he says. "You’ll see that leading up to the treatment they’ll post on Instagram to say how excited they are and they might even post straight afterwards looking pleased with the results, but adverse reactions can be delayed and that’s what you don’t see. In the meantime, their followers may be signing up to the same place to have the same treatment."
Dr Esho said that while we rarely see the dark side of cosmetic procedures gone wrong on Instagram, he has dealt with his fair share, including cysts caused by botched filler treatments which he has had to extract in clinic. For this reason, he believes that an enforced hashtag is a step in the right direction to taking responsibility. Ultimately, though, it is the government that needs to pay attention.
When it comes to any cosmetic treatment, it pays to do research. To find out whether your chosen aesthetic doctor is properly qualified, check whether they are registered with a governing body such as the General Medical Council (GMC), British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) or the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN). As well as this, always ask to see photos of the practitioner's work and request information about their qualifications and training before booking in for any kind of procedure.