It took Maggie Williams a few seconds to realize, with a vague sense of unease, that there was something strange about her daughter Sophie's face.
It was December last year, a few days before Christmas. Maggie, a 52-year-old boutique owner from Torquay, had arrived excitedly at the train station to gather her older child she hadn't seen for months because of her busy marketing career in London.
In recent years, like every parent, she had felt a slight inconvenience on the Instagram page of her 25-year-old daughter full of glamorous selfies, some of which showed her in swimwear.
Maggie Williams and her daughter Sophie, who succumbed to the allure of cosmetic medicine, and her lips & # 39; ready & # 39; had
Maggie consoled herself by deciding that this was just normal for girls her age. However, this was different.
& # 39; It was her lips, & # 39; Maggie remembers, visibly shuddering at the memory.
& # 39; They were just … so big. I actually wanted to shout: "Oh God, help!" Finally I could calmly ask: "What did you do to yourself?"
& # 39; I tried to keep my head cool, but I was on the verge of tears. She is my beautiful girl. She didn't have to do this for herself. & # 39;
Like shocking numbers of perfectly attractive young women, Sophie had succumbed to the allure of cosmetic medicine and had her lips & # 39; ready & # 39 ;.
The augmentation procedure involves injections of a syrupy gel – known as a filler – that is under the delicate skin of the lips, adding volume.
First developed to treat facial loss in AIDS patients, the injections were quickly adopted as a cosmetic rejuvenation procedure.
Today, record numbers of teenagers and people in their twenties choose treatment in Britain (pictured left: Sophie before treatment. Right: Sophie afterwards)
Older women opted for the treatments to restore the chubby pouting of youth that was naturally lost with age.
But today, record numbers of teenagers and twenties in Britain are opting for treatments alongside anti-wrinkle jab Botox – not to make them look younger, but to radically change the shape and proportions of their faces.
Many young people are driven by the pressure to look good in selfies that have been uploaded to social media sites such as Instagram, which can greatly increase any perceived error.
And hit shows such as Love Island from ITV2 – currently on our screens in the fifth season – mean pout, soft lips are increasingly coveted merchandise among the female participants in the show and the 3.3 million viewers of the show.
For older women, a discreet & # 39; pin and blow & # 39; have been given in trust only to good friends, or not at all.
Today's reality TV stars wear their extreme makeover like a badge of honor – and a Love Island participant, Megan Barton-Hanson, 25, reportedly spent £ 40,000 on cosmetic procedures after her first visit at a clinic at the age of 14.
That is the concern about the influence of these shows, earlier this month the Royal Society of Public Health asked for a ban on giving fillers to people under the age of 18.
However, Sophie is very happy with her new look – and says that & # 39; at least half & # 39; of her friends has undergone similar adjustments.
She says: & # 39; Every generation has its trends and with my generation, cosmetic surgery has definitely become the norm.
& # 39; Ten years ago I never said I'd do it. Now it is cheap, it is immediately available, it is a quick solution and you immediately feel better.
& # 39; The question is: why should I not do it? & # 39;
The look: Love Island participant Anna Vakili on Instagram photo
A & # 39; GOLD TICKET & # 39; TOWARDS A GLAMOUS LIFE
The cosmetic injection industry is big business, estimated to be worth £ 2.75 billion in the UK – 75 percent of the value of the entire cosmetic surgery sector.
These are estimates only because the real picture is not known if the market is unregulated.
But plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover, a former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, is concerned that shows like Love Island are equivalent to & # 39; brainwashing & # 39; and viewers imply that fillers and implants have a & # 39; golden ticket & # 39; for a glamorous lifestyle, without warning of the serious potential consequences of such procedures.
The risks of filler treatments, if performed poorly, include pain, swelling, bruising, and infection.
Chunks known as granulomas can form in about one third of all cases, which can be difficult to remove and make the lips appear deformed.
In rare, worst-case scenarios, fillers that are accidentally injected into blood vessels can cause blockages that limit blood flow to other tissues.
The US medical regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, has warned that this can lead to a stroke, visual disturbances and permanent facial abnormalities.
& # 39; Alex tells me it boosted her self-confidence, but I can't bear it & # 39;
Alex, a hairdresser and makeup artist, for the procedure
& # 39; I now take many more selfies & # 39 ;: Alex after following the procedure
PR manager and mother Nici Cunningham got the shock of her life from her Love Island-addicted daughter Alex, 19, when she announced that she had had lip fillers.
& # 39; She sent me a picture of herself and assured me they were swollen and would go down, & # 39; Nici said. & # 39; When I first saw them, I fear that my response was, "Oh my God!"
& # 39; I appreciate that it is a first-world problem, but I was really in total shock. She has a beautiful face and I tell her that, but she doesn't see it. I sincerely believe that the trigger comes from those reality shows and those endless photos on social media. All Alex's girls are on Instagram and watch reality TV. Alex's generation has only known this type of show.
& # 39; She feels more secure when she has let her lips sit and believes they look better, but I can't bear it. & # 39;
Alex, a hairdresser and makeup artist, is not excited. Like Sophie, she doesn't see the problem, but instead sees her lips being injected as no more serious than the hair extensions she had done this year.
& # 39; I'm used to seeing girls my age with artificially improved lips & # 39 ;, Alex explains.
& # 39; At the last count had at least half a dozen of my girlfriends. I didn't do it on a whim.
& # 39; I understand that women in their 40s and 50s will be tutoring my generation to do this, but that is normal for us. I did my homework first. The clinic I went to was recommended through a friend of a friend. & # 39;
And Alex is very happy with her new pout.
& # 39; I'm taking much more selfies now & # 39 ;, she says.
& # 39; My larger lips make me feel more confident. & # 39;
Like Sophie, Alex says she didn't do it to attract men.
& # 39; I'm not sure if men like my new lips. I didn't do it for them – it was about me, & she adds.
Yet social media and reality TV apparently have more influence than real life. Sophie, who lives in Clapham, South London, openly admits that Instagram has contributed to her own decision. But she claims that the procedures – the first she had on her 25th birthday in September 2018 and cost £ 350 – have given her new confidence.
She was so happy with the result of her first lip enhancement, went back three months later for more and spent £ 270.
Sophie wants extra fillers when the effect disappears within three months. & # 39; I have so much more confidence and love the way it is in photos & # 39; s, & # 39; says Sophie. & # 39; I will never stop to get it done.
& # 39; The Instagram trend for fuller lips has definitely influenced me, absolutely. My job marketing brands mean that I spend a lot of time on Instagram and that I work with models, bloggers and social media influencers every day.
& # 39; I spend hours browsing the site by browsing photos. I follow many beautiful women – not so much the Love Island girls – and models like Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley. & # 39;
She adds: & # 39; I have always been self-conscious about my teeth after having braces when I was young, and my thin upper lip. I felt that I had a sticky smile and would not smile on photos. Now I'm not worried, and I'm always happy to be in a selfie. & # 39;
There is, of course, a difficult conflict between the ideals of the # MeToo generation – who want to avoid the sexual objectification of women – and the results of such a cosmetic work that, it can be argued, is fully designed to let women out more see sexually attractive.
But Sophie claims: & All women feel the pressure to look naturally sexy. Those models on Instagram with huge lips … men see them as the ideal woman. So I want to be seen as attractive, with that puffy smile that you know boys like.
& # 39; But I did it for myself, for my own confidence and not for the way some guy would perceive me. & # 39;
However, Maggie sees it differently. & # 39; I understand it is good to make her lips beat and as a mother you just want your children to be happy. Sophie is so smart. She has a first-class diploma with praise and a good job.
& # 39; I don't agree with this whole look. It's like girls all want to look the same – the same hair and clothes and now faces. Nobody wants to be an individual anymore. & # 39;
HIGH STREET CHAIN DIRECTED STUDENTS
In August last year, high street chemist Superdrug – a former sponsor of Love Island – drew criticism when it started offering Botox and lip jabs in stores. Yet the retailer was just one of many. Today, specially-made Love Island-themed Botox and filler packages are also offered by cosmetic clinics, while advertisements for such procedures – combined with images of women with so-called & # 39; perfect & # 39; lips – widespread on Instagram.
One chain, Kavas Cosmetics, with 27 branches in the UK, targeted youth on Facebook last September through & # 39; Freshers competitions & # 39; to offer: free treatments for people who come in with a valid student card.
The same company is currently offering & # 39; Love Island & # 39; discount packages for people who book filling procedures and use fake tan or manicure at the same time.
Last year, Love Island itself was squatted by supervisors for placing a clinic for cosmetic surgery during commercial breaks.
No wonder therefore that it is young women who succumb – a report of cosmetic surgery. WhatClinic.com found that 42 percent of visitors to lip augmentation pages were 18 to 24 years old.
On social media, Sophie discovered her own practitioner, Dr. Krystyna Wilczynski, a dental surgeon with training in facial aesthetics.
The appointment lasted 45 minutes and an anesthetic cream was added to her lips before the injections, usually to her upper lip, were administered.
& # 39; Now I send Dr. Krystyna regularly takes a selfie of my lips to check when she thinks I should have them done again, & # 39; she said.
The injections are not permanent and the effects wear off, so refill & # 39; is necessary. But over time this can cause the skin to stretch excessively and there is scar tissue and hardened tissue at the injection site. Ironically, if treatment is stopped, the face may look even older.
It is her biggest fear for Maggie. & # 39; I'm getting scared because she basically puts poison in her body & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; She was perfect as she was.
& # 39; And what happens in a few years, if these things have been in their bodies for a while? We just don't know. & # 39;
Surgeon Mr. Grover says: & # 39; These treatments were originally marketed to restore youth to the elderly. As age progresses, the lips and cheeks lose volume, so that fillers can inject it again.
& # 39; But with young people who already have full lips, fillers cause malformations. Many of these girls' lips look like sausages.
& # 39; Young people want to look good on Instagram, but the tragedy is that it really doesn't look good in real life. They would actually look better without it. & # 39;
Plastic surgeon Nigel Mercer, chairman of the steering committee of the Center for Appearance Research at the University of West England, said the mental health condition dysmorphia – an obsessive idea that a certain aspect of one's own body or appearance is seriously inadequate – is now & # 39; an important issue & # 39; for young women.
& # 39; This Instagram look is clearly a fashion statement, and how we have reached a stage where people think it's attractive is hard to understand, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; There is very little information about the drivers behind this market and it is clear that people are not adequately screened to ensure that they are psychologically fit to undergo a medical procedure that changes their appearance.
& # 39; Of course, a reputable doctor will dispose of a patient if he has unrealistic expectations, or if he asks for something that can make him seem worse.
& # 39; But there will always be someone prepared to perform the procedures.
& # 39; One in twenty women now has self-harm and this is almost the same – we all have the responsibility to keep it under control. & # 39;
Maggie seems to withdraw from her daughter's choice, but is worried. & # 39; I am worried that as soon as people take this road, they will become addicted & she says.
& # 39; It's up to her of course, but I'd rather she never started. & # 39;
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