The Last Word: Celebrities & Treatments

By Dr Hennah Bashir / 16 Sep 2019

Dr Hennah Bashir argues why she believes celebrities should be more transparent about their aesthetic treatments

In today’s society, the chance that your patients, and indeed yourself, are or have been influenced by images you see on social media and in glossy magazines is pretty high. In fact, it was reported that 23% of UK consumers have clicked through to buy a product after seeing it featured by a social or celebrity influencer.1

There’s no denying that the popularity of Chrissy Teigen’s ‘mum bod’ pictures and Selena Gomez’s no makeup Instagram posts show that the public appreciates the celebrities who ‘keep it real’. In regards to aesthetic procedures specifically, the likes of Kylie Jenner, Cindy Crawford, Sofia Vergara and Kim Kardashian have all been open and honest about what they have had done which, in turn, may have helped to popularise procedures like botulinum toxin, lip fillers, and ‘vampire’ platelet-rich plasma facials amongst the general public.2,3 However, so many celebrities remain silent or deny undergoing any aesthetic treatment at all.

In my opinion, celebrities who do not reveal that they have had any aesthetic procedures are arguably doing their fans a disservice. This secrecy can mislead the general public in terms of their expectations of what is or isn’t realistic as part of the normal ageing process. Beyond giving the general public unrealistic expectations of what natural ageing looks like, the lack of endorsement can stop others from exploring aesthetic medicine safely and effectively, leaving them exposed to potential risks and complications.

So, how can we, as responsible aesthetic practitioners, contribute to a cultural shift where a celebrity’s choice to invest in a service that we offer is public, normalised or perhaps even praiseworthy?

The problem

Some might say that there is a moral imperative on public figures to be body positive, based on their responsibility and the volume of people, of all ages and backgrounds, they are influencing. Based on this, celebrities who claim their gorgeous skin and sculpted faces are purely a product of nature and good living can be perceived as contributing to the narrative that we live in a world where we are all victims of a ‘genetic lottery’; that you can never improve on aspects of your appearance that make you unhappy, thus making the ‘normal’ person ‘hopeless’ with no acceptable path to embrace their wishes for aesthetic self-improvement.

This is where body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) can come into play. The disorder is thought to affect around 2% of the British population; however, prevalence of those dissatisfied with their bodies and suffering the psychosocial consequences is far higher.4 Patients with common skin problems for example, often suffer substantial psychosocial comorbidity and reduced quality of life,4 yet many are put off seeking help by negative impressions of private cosmetic doctors, long NHS waiting lists and simply being unaware of what is available to them.

If celebrities were more forthcoming about how they also suffer issues with their appearance and choose to have aesthetic treatments to improve them, our collective journey to self-acceptance would surely make the world a happier, more understanding place.

We all know that bad aesthetic work is highly publicised. The best is often not reported on. This is generally because ageing A-listers choose to be very discrete, which of course they are perfectly entitled to be

A stigma for practitioners

We all know that bad aesthetic work is highly publicised. The best is often not reported on. This is generally because ageing A-listers choose to be very discrete, which of course they are perfectly entitled to be. However, this leaves me questioning whether there is a stigma attached to the treating practitioner. For example, when celebrities with great aesthetic work deny they have had any procedures, this causes a negative media bias where stories of major complications can paint the industry as dangerous. In my opinion, the practitioner who has assisted in creating a natural aesthetic should be praised and recognised for their good work and skills.

People forget that many aesthetic practitioners have years of clinical experience and are qualified medical professionals, sometimes with specialisms in other areas as well, meaning that patients are more often than not, in the best hands.

In an ideal world, people would find admitting visits to an aesthetic practitioner as simple as telling people about visiting their dentist. In my opinion, we should collectively regard caring for the face and body as part of good overall health.

Unfortunately, as red top papers and gossip magazines love to focus on the minority of unsafe practitioners, this taints all of us who always put the safety and best interests of our patients first. Practitioners and their celebrity patients who can voluntarily offer an alternative story, could shape the narrative to be more realistic.