Botox treatments on young patients (under 25) may retard their emotional growth and is "morally wrong" according to some UK clinicians.
At least that's a recent BBC headline that might be more link-baiting than actual research.
According to the UK's Journal of Aesthetic Nursing, clinicians say there is a growing trend for under-25s to seek the wrinkle-smoothing injections but research suggests "frozen faces" could stop young people from learning how to express emotions fully. Additionally, a leading body of UK plastic surgeons says injecting teenagers for cosmetic reasons is "morally wrong".
What's going on here?
Nurse practitioner Helen Collier, who carried out the research, says reality TV shows and celebrity culture are driving young people to idealize the "inexpressive frozen face."
But she points to a well-known psychological theory, the facial feedback hypothesis, that suggests adolescents learn how best to relate to people by mimicking their facial expressions.
She says: "As a human being our ability to demonstrate a wide range of emotions is very dependent on facial expressions.
"Emotions such as empathy and sympathy help us to survive and grow into confident and communicative adults."
But she warns that a "growing generation of blank-faced" young people could be harming their ability to correctly convey their feelings.
"If you wipe those expressions out, this might stunt their emotional and social development," she says.
Dr Michael Lewis, a researcher in psychology at Cardiff University, says: "The expressions we make on our face affect the emotions we feel.
"We smile because we are happy, but smiling also makes us happy.
"Treatment with drugs like Botox prevents the patient from being able to make a particular expression and can therefore have an effect on our learning to feel emotions naturally."
Rajiv Grover, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, says: "Injecting teenagers with Botox for cosmetic purposes is morally wrong and something that no ethical practitioner would do.
Of course this might have been morea bout Ms Collier's presentation at the Clinical Cosmetic and Reconstructive Expo and generating a little visibility for both the presenter and the venue.
I tend to agree with many of the premises here in that cosmetic treatments simply to cater to perceived imperfections for younger patients just shouldn't be performed, but it seems a stretch to say that the Botox is the cause rather that the effect. In the patients that I've seen that fall into this age group and are looking for cosmetic treatments there are already many factors that are contributing to this behavior in the first place rather that flowing from previous treatments.
Body dysmporphic disorder in the young is something that every cosmetic practioner runs into from time to time. It's up to each clinician to understand what the patient psychology is and how best to address it. Blaming the actual treatments is overly simplistic in my view.