“I Asked For Filler For Christmas” – The Rise Of Injectables As Gifts

With the demand for dermal filler set to rise among millennials, injectables may be one of the last beauty taboos to shatter. From lip filler to chin, cheek and jaw filler, more of us are looking to aesthetic procedures for a cosmetics boost, and with clinics popping up all over the UK in dermatology centres and beauty salons, it's easier than ever to book in.
But filler doesn't come cheap. At reputable dermatology clinics in London, filler prices can start at £450 and exceed £750 for just 1ml, though the cost does vary depending on the amount of filler administered and by who. "Generally, registered medical professionals will be a little pricier than non-healthcare practitioners," says Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, aesthetician and founder of Smileworks. "This is because of training, experience, product and practice." Dr Rowland-Warmann mentions that you are likely to get a much safer and more predictable result in the hands of a trained medical professional who is experienced not only in treating you for filler but is more likely to manage a situation if it doesn’t go to plan, for example if you have a reaction.
As a result of safety measures and quality ingredients, high costs can often put people off filler, but a new study conducted by Dr Aesthetica found that millennials have no qualms about asking friends or family members to contribute to filler procedures, especially at Christmas time. Out of the 500 individuals surveyed, half said that they would ask for a procedure (or money towards one) as a Christmas gift, and almost one in five have done so in the past. The study also discovered that women were more likely than men to ask for this type of gift.
With filler so popular among millennials, most are no longer quick to judge or pass comment. Of course, a person's choice to get filler is entirely theirs. The procedure should then only be done by a trusted, qualified expert who has assessed the person during an initial consultation, as mental health conditions like body dysmorphia can also factor in deciding to get cosmetic work, according to Dr Aesthetica's medical director and lead doctor, Baldeep Farmah. If the consultation goes smoothly and no complications have occurred as a result of the procedure, you'd assume there wouldn't be an issue. But with so many different views on filler procedures, including whether they are ethical (there have been several undercover reports about practitioners performing treatments on patients who are underage) or safe in the long run, this makes asking for filler, or money towards it as a gift for Christmas, problematic.

My boyfriend kicked up such a fuss when I asked him for money towards filler and my parents would never agree to it.

Jasmine*, 27 (whose name we have changed, as she has experienced backlash for getting filler in the past), asked her boyfriend to contribute towards a lip filler procedure for Christmas last year. "All I really wanted for Christmas was a pair of Dr. Martens and lip fillers. I asked my parents for the boots as there's no way they would pay towards cosmetic stuff," she told R29. "I asked my boyfriend upfront and said I wanted money towards lip filler, although not the whole amount as it was £185 a pop, which I thought was steep for a present. He wasn't happy about it and refused at first. He made it clear that he thought I was throwing away money and always tells me I look great as I am. I reasoned that anything else he got me would be a waste as I wouldn't use or enjoy it as much as I would filler. Plus, if I had to pay for the procedure myself, it would have taken me months to save up, which meant we wouldn't be able to go out for dinner or on dates for a while."

Eventually, Jasmine's boyfriend did gift her money for Christmas and she booked in for lip filler. "He agreed that if filler will make me feel better, that's my decision. My parents on the other hand hate filler. They know I get my lips done and tell me how OTT and ridiculous they look. I don't think they do, as I go for a very natural amount and people who find out I have filler don't believe me! All of my friends are pro-cosmetics if it's not 'overdone', but I'm the only one who has ever had filler because it's so expensive."
The negative response is the reason why Jasmine wouldn't ask for money as a Christmas gift to put towards filler again. "My boyfriend kicked up such a fuss and my family just wouldn't gift me money towards the procedure. Now, I tend to save a little every month, so when I book in every six to nine months, I have the money already."
Being judged or scolded could explain why many millennials are dishonest about using Christmas money for cosmetic procedures. Zoe, 24, says that she has lied to family members about how she has spent gifted money in the past. "I was asked what I wanted as a gift, and if they were offering, I'd say that money is fine. I'd tell them that I would put it towards my savings, which isn't true! The reason I keep it to myself is because older generation family members would judge me. Or I'd feel as though they wouldn’t understand why I wanted something done."
Zoe continues that her family was vehemently against her decision to get lip filler when she was younger. "They’d call me crazy, especially when I was in my late teens, which is understandable. On the other hand, some of my friends are into filler, so I wouldn’t feel as judged by them. To be honest, I work so hard for my money to pay my bills and to buy essentials, so any procedure is a luxury and the extra money helps if I really want something done. One thing I wouldn’t do when accepting money from a family member as a gift is ask for permission for filler. Essentially, it's my decision."
Amara* recalls asking her mum for money towards a lip filler procedure as a Christmas gift, and after some resistance, she eventually agreed. "My mum has had a boob reduction and a gastric band, so I don't think she can really judge my decision to get filler," says Amara. "She offered to give me money for Christmas because I'm difficult to buy for, and when I first asked her to help towards the procedure, she was wary. She was worried it would go wrong, as all we see in the press is pictures of botched jobs. But we did lots of research together and finally found someone we trusted. It was very expensive. I paid £350 for 1ml of filler at a reputable London clinic and my mum contributed £100, which she slipped into a Christmas card. She stressed that it covered my birthday present as well! I'm lucky she isn't critical. My body, my choice, really."
Dr Rowland-Warmann says that while the majority of her patients still want to look "naturally good", there are a very few patients who want that "overdone" look, which could contribute to how filler is often perceived negatively. "I always grow a little concerned when I see people with very large lips or obviously exaggerated aesthetic treatments because I worry not only for their physical safety but also for their mental health," she says. "Body dysmorphia is a huge thing in aesthetic medicine, affecting around 5-15% of all patients. Unfortunately, many beauticians aren’t trained in spotting this and this is where a lot of the scary results come from." A good doctor will always insist on a consultation prior to a procedure.
For those interested in filler, Dr Rowland-Warmann continues: "It's important to understand that there are restrictions on cosmetic treatments. For filler, patients should be over the age of 18." She reiterates that a consultation is also essential, especially if you are looking into another procedure, such as Botox or semi-permanent nose jobs using filler, which are becoming more popular. "Botox in particular is a prescription medication and can only be prescribed by someone with a medical licence," she says. "This means that if you are going to a beautician for your Botox treatment and you haven't seen a doctor or nurse for a consultation, then they are breaking the law. In terms of nose or jaw reshaping, treatments should be in the hands of medical professionals as they are higher risk. I get many complication referrals from other practitioners when these go awry. It’s important that practitioners have a sound knowledge of anatomy to complete any aesthetic procedures, but even more so with noses."
You also get what you pay for, according to Dr Rowland-Warmann, who recalls seeing a lot of counterfeit products on the market which have been bought cheaply by people who call themselves 'experts' in aesthetics, but don't have a proper medical licence. "Cheap products are low quality, produce a lot of complications, and give bad results. Well researched and developed, high quality products make good results in the right injector’s hands, but they are expensive. This is where a large chunk of the treatment cost will come from." It also pays to take the premises into consideration. "If you’re being treated behind a curtain in a hair salon, then your injector is likely cutting all sorts of corners with regard to protocols for safety. A proper, purpose-built practice is the best place to have treatment. This means that rooms are clean and contain the right amenities, for example a surgical trolley, and staff are on hand to deal with any concerns or questions you may have. You get a better standard of treatment in a safe environment."
Dr Farmah finishes with some sound advice for those interested in filler. "If you or a loved one are thinking about asking for money to go towards a cosmetic procedure this Christmas, ensure you have done your research. Being well informed will help you to decide on the best treatment plan to suit your individual needs." As well as the above guidelines by Dr Rowland-Warmann, there are a number of helpful and educational websites such as RealSelf and SaveFace, which include real reviews of clinics with pictures. (Warning: they can be quite graphic.) The British Association of Dermatologists also has some information on aesthetic procedures and practices, while the General Medical Council Register allows you to search the name and qualifications of your prospective practitioner.
*Name has been changed

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