Social media may be pushing more millennials to turn to cosmetic procedures, clinics say

Clinics around Toronto are telling CBC News that more and more women in their early-to-mid 20s are getting Botox injections and other cosmetic procedures. And at least one expert says it could be due to growing pressure to look their best on social media.

Facial plastic surgeon in Yorkville says there's been an increase in early-to-mid 20s clients

Dr. Cory Torgerson in Yorkville uses social media to educate potential clients on different procedures. (Tina Mackenzie / CBC )

At age 27, Vanessa Alaumary has already had several cosmetic procedures.

She started getting injectables a few years ago and says many of her friends also started in their early 20's.

"All of my friends are in their 20's and they all do it," Alaumary said.

"I love the filler and Botox because you don't want to get lines, and I can see friends who didn't do it and they're starting to get lines and I'm not, so I can see it's working."

The 27-year-old says it's very easy now to access information online about which procedures are available to younger people as well as to research various clinics around the city.

"You can look at videos of procedures, you can look up doctors on social media, it's perfect."

Vanessa Alaumary says she did a lot of research on websites and social media before choosing a clinic for her procedures. (Tina Mackenzie / CBC )

Alaumary is not alone. CBC Toronto called various clinics around the city and many say they are seeing an increasing number of clients in their early-to-mid 20s.

Clients like Amanda Lao.

She also started treatments in her mid 20's. She believes getting botox and dermal fillers is becoming more accepted — and thinks it's important to be open about it so that people don't always take what they see online as reality.

"You cut your hair and you feel better about yourself. You get a new pair of jeans and you feel better about yourself. It's just another thing you can do to feel better about yourself," Lao said.

Amanda Lao says injectibles have been in the spotlight more and she believes that is making them more socially acceptable. (Susan Goodspeed / CBC)

Lao adds that clinics seem to be advertising in a way that is more appealing to young people by posting before and after photos and using social media.

'It's more acceptable than it ever has been'

Facial plastic surgeon Dr. Cory Torgerson in Yorkville has a large following on Instagram as well as Youtube. His website includes a section about preventative botox for millennials.

"We're seeing a lot more people in their early-to-mid-20's not just for surgical things but maintenance prevention things," Torgerson said.

"There are so many more options, and because it's non-invasive, more affordable and culturally it's more acceptable than it ever has been."

Torgerson says the younger clientele is a big growing part of the industry, and he works with his clients to make sure the procedures they want can be done in a way that looks natural and works for them.

"There are things that people are self-conscious about, and now there are non-surgical procedures," he said, noting he sees an increase in some of the clients' confidence afterwards.

Dermal fillers, botox and laser treatments are the popular non-surgical procedures among Torgerson's younger clients.

The doctor admits that social media likely plays a role in the increase in younger clients.

"People are always coming in showing examples of what they would like," Torgerson said. "For lips, Kylie Jenner has the gold medal for that."

He says the social icons online seem to be a powerful force in influencing the younger generation.

'Bombarded with idealized images'

Dr. Stephanie Cassin, who works in the department of psychology at Ryerson University, says the rise in image-based social media could be contributing to millennials feeling pressured to look a certain way.

"Being bombarded with a lot of idealized images of what the ideal appearance is, and constantly seeing that in a social media feed, over time you start to think that's just what everybody looks like," Cassin said.

Cassin adds that using filters on apps also contributes to the idea of trying to achieve perfection.

"It leads people to this idea that anything imperfect needs to be changed, needs to be improved."

Dr. Stephanie Cassin says images of 'idealized beauty' are more accessible now, which may be putting more pressure on the younger generation to pursue perfection. (Yanjun Li / CBC )

And Cassin says perhaps the filters could eventually lead to fillers.

"It's almost like seeing what an idealized version of yourself would look like, and then it seems like a realistic thing to go after to achieve."​

Botox is safe: dermatologist 

Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue, a cosmetic dermatology and laser clinic located on Avenue Road near Davenport Road in downtown Toronto, says botox is a pediatric drug for therapeutic use for conditions such as cerebral palsy.

"We are using it in children who are quite young, younger than the people using it for cosmetic purposes," Kellett said. "When it's used correctly, it's safe."

Kellett said the most common side effects when injected are swelling and bruising but there aren't any known long- term dangers.

"If you see someone like a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist our products will tend to be safer," she said. 

"I always tell patients when they're looking for someone to see a specialist because they know the products that are safest to inject."

About the Author

Talia Ricci

Talia Ricci is a CBC reporter based in Toronto. She's from Guelph and has also reported in London and Winnipeg. From the Middle East to West Africa, Talia has travelled around the globe volunteering and photographing. She enjoys covering offbeat human interest stories and exposing social justice issues. When she's not reporting, you can find Talia creating recipes for her plant based food blog.