Screen idol Elizabeth Taylor was at the peak of her legendary beauty in her mid 30s, yet if she’d had access to anti-wrinkle injections in her early 20s, she may never have reached her potential, medical experts say.
What was originally intended as an anti-ageing treatment for men and women with moderate to severe frown lines, anti-wrinkle injections are now increasingly sought after by wrinkle-free 20-somethings – even teens – as a “preventative”.
British experts are not only questioning where the evidence is to support this trend but whether it can actually make younger users look older than their years.
Dr Darren McKeown, a cosmetic physician with clinics in London and Glasgow, says that having anti-wrinkle injections to inhibit facial expressions that may one day contribute to wrinkles is completely different from treating actual wrinkles.
‘While hyper-expression may eventually lead to wrinkles, forfeiting normal facial expression at such a young age in the hope it may stave off wrinkles in later life is surely a sacrifice too far,’ Dr McKeown says.
`Also, starting anti-wrinkle treatments at an early age ultimately could do more harm to your looks than good.’
He explains that the face is an ever-evolving structure and that long-term overuse can lead to atrophy [slackening] of the muscles. In younger women, the effects of this can be quite significant.
‘As the muscle thins around the eyes, you lose volume and padding and can end up seeing the outlines of bones. This can result in an aged appearance, despite the lack of wrinkles.
`Having the treatment too early may not only lead to undesirable results over time; you could just be depriving yourself of the best looks you were ever destined to have.’
Dr McKeown points out that when Elizabeth Taylor died, newspapers were filled with photographs of the Hollywood legend used from each of her eight weddings (almost consistently five years apart), which neatly documented the evolution of her looks.
`While Taylor was clearly always a beautiful woman from her teens onwards, arguably her looks did not reach their peak until she was in her mid 30s,’ he says.
`Had anti-wrinkle injections been available to Taylor in her early 20s, would she have ever reached that same level of mature beauty for which she will now always be remembered? I suspect probably not.’
Dermatologist Dr Michael Prager, who works on London’s famed Harley St, believes women who ask to eradicate wrinkles that are barely there are experiencing age dysmorphia: seeing lines that others don’t. He also warns that such treatments are addictive.
‘The earlier you start, the more obsessed you risk becoming,’ he says.
‘If you get rid of every tiny little line, you lose sight of what looks normal.’