The step from filters to fillers is getting smaller

Arie Kers

Will fillers and botox soon be the same as getting a new haircut? Cosmetic doctor Tom Decates and eclectic scientist Anne-Mette Hermans talk in Studio Erasmus about the normalisation of cosmetic surgery. What do people do to themselves and why?

In the Dutch top three of cosmetic procedures, lip fillers are at the top, followed by Botox for wrinkles near the eyes. There are also many people who want a fuller jawline.

Fairly little known about the cosmetics industry

Although it seems that taking fillers and botox is becoming more normal, there is still relatively little known about the cosmetics industry in the Netherlands, say Tom Decates and Anne-Mette Hermans in Studio Erasmus. For instance, no numbers were known and no records were kept. For this reason, the two decided last year to set up the Expertise Group Cosmetic Surgery. "We see that things sometimes go wrong, but we don't know how big the group is", says Hermans.

Increase in number of complications

We saw last year that a cosmetic procedure can sometimes go seriously wrong. A woman died after undergoing a Brazilian Butt Lift, a procedure in which fat is removed from the abdomen and then injected into the buttocks. This results in a slimmer waist and a larger buttock. Both Hermans and Decates note that people go completely overboard. The result: an increase in the number of complications. Some of these end up at Erasmus MC, where victims are helped during the only complications consultation in the world.

Arie Kers

Decates: "We found out that in the Netherlands about 450 thousand filler or Botox treatments are performed every year. One in forty people undergo a filler treatment. We see 1,500 complications per year. I think that's the tip of the iceberg.”

Why do people want to tinker with themselves like this?

The idea of perfectibility and the pursuit of beauty is not new. Hermans investigates, among other things, the extent to which social media play a role when people allow themselves to be tinkered with. "We know that seeing ideal images on social media causes you to mirror yourself to a certain degree. That can also do something to your self-image, which can make you more likely to see a cosmetic doctor or plastic surgeon", she explains. 

The step from filters to fillers

Research also shows that there is a relationship between taking selfies, editing them with filters, and wanting to see a cosmetic doctor or plastic surgeon. "It does do something to your body image and the way you start looking at yourself."

Yet there are also counter-movements, such as the Body Positivity Movement. "That kind of counter-movement really brings about something. Young people look for that kind of content to make them feel more confident. People are also critical about having themselves altered", concludes Hermans.

Arts Tom Decates & dr. Anne-Mette Hermans over de normalisering van botox - Studio Erasmus

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