Frozen: Let It (The Botox) Go

Emotional Development and Depression Warning for Young People and Botox

London – 13 September, 2014 – Britain’s largest conference bringing together experts from the reconstructive, cosmetic and non-surgical worlds will bear witness this year to an “urgent” warning regarding the growing trend for young people undergoing ‘preventative’ Botox treatment.

A study published in the prestigious Journal of Aesthetic Nursing and which will be presented at the Clinical, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Expo ( this October suggests the implications for young people are much farther-reaching than an inexpressive ‘frozen’ face, in fact their emotional growth could be severely affected.

With many celebrities from the most popular programmes openly admitting to the ubiquitous wrinkle-smoothing injections – from judges in the upcoming X Factor to the ever-present TOWIE reality stars – it is no surprise that a growing number of people in their late teens and early twenties see the treatment as both widespread and desirable.

Yet an expected 4,000+ strong audience of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeons, surgical trainees, cosmetic doctors and nurses at the event in London’s Olympia will be warned that it’s not just young patients’ forehead movement but long-term emotional maturity that is at dire risk with these treatments.

Aesthetic practitioner and nurse prescriber Helena Collier is author of the study. She is based in Edinburgh and has been invited to speak at the conference this year. Helena, who is studying for a Master’s Degree in Cosmetic Medicine, says;

“The inappropriate and often unethical use of botulinum toxin in teenagers and young adults can have significant and long lasting effects on their emotional growth. As human beings, 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. Only fully expressive teens are able to provide and receive emotional feedback and ‘mirroring’ – which reassures speakers and listeners that they are being understood or disagreed with, a huge part of growing up.  Removing the ability of the face to express these emotions can seriously affect the ability of patients to develop into maturity.”

According to the 'facial feedback hypothesis', facial expressions not only reflect feelings, but also cause them.  There is also a direct link between facial expression and the ability to understand language. The data in Helena’s study showed a 10% rise of botulinum toxin injections in this vulnerable group of patients – those in their late teens and early twenties. She explains;

“Young girls today are often under extreme societal pressure to look perfect. As medical aesthetic practitioners we should be allowing them to grow into their bodies – and indeed, faces – first, before we potentially limit their ability to communicate as adults.”

Helena continues;

“There are a wealth of assessment tools available to practitioners to objectively measure age related skin changes and help determine clinically whether certain treatments are the ideal solution for a patient.  However, young adults often present to clinics after making a subjective decision, demanding anti-wrinkle treatments perceiving there to be a 'real' condition to treat – and too often their demands are met without question.”

As well as the emotional stunting, there is also clinical evidence of botulinum toxin as a cause of depression as the inability to actively smile and show a positive emotion meant that the patients in the study were less happy because their smiling faces were less animated than previously. 

Dr Michael Lewis from the School of Psychology, Cardiff University is conducting research into the link between Botox and mood. He says;

“The expressions that we make on our face affects 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.”

Psychologist Connie Weir ( who works in the fields of clinical hypnotherapy and eating disorders, has seen a rise in young people with serious body image problems;

“The influence of the media is ever powerful but different in the digital age. We are relentlessly bombarded with images of celebrities – not unknown models – that have been altered to an ideal of ‘perfection’ that is unreal as well as unrealistic. I have seen many young girls in distress as they fight to achieve this fake ideal.  The rise of social networking means there is a forum for group chat and therefore group pressure. I feel it is due to this darker side of our technological age that body image and related self-esteem issues are more prevalent.”

Helena concludes;

“There is no definitive chronological age to start treatment with botulinum toxin treatment, but the issue of stunting emotional growth in adolescents and young adults needs to be seriously addressed, before the world becomes populated by not just expressionless but immature or depressed adults. This disturbing trend has continued to grow since my original findings and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

According to Peter Jones, Chief Executive Officer of CCR Expo;

“Our trade expo in Olympia is the ideal destination for clinicians to explore the latest advances in the sector – the show has grown exponentially this year and we look forward to showcasing the most cutting-edge technologies and techniques from the reconstructive, aesthetic and non-surgical arenas.  Debates such as this are vital and they wouldn’t happen if we didn’t bring everyone from the sector together to discuss relevant developments.”

Out of 6.1 million injections in 2013 in the U.S. alone, around 100,000 were for patients in their twenties - a 10% rise since 2011.

About the Clinical Cosmetic & Reconstructive (CCR) Expo

The Clinical Cosmetic & Reconstructive (CCR) Expo is a groundbreaking business-to-business event that will bring the international surgical and non-surgical community together under one roof. The expo runs from 10-11 October 2014 at London, Olympia and will showcase over 120 international exhibitors: from cutting edge surgical equipment and supplies through to non-invasive products, business services, training and consultancy. There will be 14 days of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) content, including workshops, conferences and live demonstration theatres, packed into an exciting two-day event. Clinical Cosmetic & Reconstructive Expo is organised by NINETEEN EVENTS, whose management team has a solid track record of organising large-scale international award winning shows.

For media enquiries only, contact Tingy Simoes or Paul Keirnan on 020 7549 2863 or email