In a post on Oasis Med Spa’s Instagram page, a satisfied client compared a three-minute session to doing 1,000 crunches, squats, or arm curls in a single session…
By Blessing Chinwendu Nwankwo
“Never let anyone try to fix a skin ‘problem’ or ‘issue’ that doesn’t bother you,” were the words of advice Dr. Vincent Wong offered to aspiring botox and filler users in a 2016 interview. I doubt many adhered to that. The increase in the usage of aesthetic medicine between 2016 and now has been rapid—a rise so fast that the global market makes estimates for foreseen growth in 2028.
I often ask people, “Why enhance your body?” And the answer is always the same: “to improve confidence.” This is only one of the many reasons. The truth about aesthetic medicine is that it is yet another trend that we are all likely to regret. Aesthetic medicine, like tattoos and piercings, are yet another societal trend with a lot of downsides. Aesthetic medicine, particularly botulinum toxin, is used on the face to kill those nerves that aid skin ageing and, as a result, reduce the likelihood of wrinkles and frown lines. The filler is used as a skin rejuvenation element to maintain a youthful appearance. These trends resurfaced with the popularity of social media spaces and users’ desire to take stunning selfies.
Without dismissing the desire to look good, or their right to fix up their bodies (to their liking), the satisfaction of achieving that dream body is undeniable. There is the confidence it gives and the poise with and without clothes. Once the body is perfect, there is a sudden desire to be seen. There is the excitement of having perfect selfies and looking like a god/dess in clothes.
(Read also: Women, Outrageous Beauty Standards, and a Multimillion Dollar Makeup Industry.)
While aesthetic meds have its perks, some may say its risk outweighs the gains. The first con of aesthetic medicine is addiction. The possible need for repeated sessions to achieve the desired body contouring results may lead to a psychological addiction to fix more parts of the body. And in case you are wondering, yes, it is a thing.
Once started, aesthetic medicine is tough to get rid of. A single procedure raises the need for three others more. And while this is an added advantage to the doctors and post-care operators, it creates a financial strain and, even worse, increases health dangers.
Since the evolution of aesthetic medicine, the cost of beauty has skyrocketed. The increased demand for it has made it the most sought-after business idea, within and beyond the shores of Nigeria. What leaves me in shock is the deaths and complication rates; yet, there is a high demand by users who aren’t scared to take the risk.
The death, in 2020, of Pamela Ndidi Bello, one of the pioneers of aesthetic medicine in Nigeria, and founder of BNatural Spa, one of the biggest beauty spas in Nigeria, was confirmed to be caused by cancer. While no source has confirmed this, her death has been rumoured to have been caused by her constant use of aesthetic beauty procedures.
In 2005, a former Nigerian First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, lost her life in a liposuction surgery. Still, there is an increased demand for aesthetic medicine, with the erroneous belief that it has no side effects. Can we blame this courage on an attempt to back the “woke” Gen Z belief, or do we lay this on ignorance that comes with little or no value for life?
To clarify, while aesthetic medicine primarily serves women, it is not limited to them. Men are not left out of the body-shaming pressure. Men, like women, are held by expectations to appear a certain way for various reasons. A lady is expected to look good so that she’ll be the “catch,” while men are burdened with the need to appear “successful,” not only financially but physically. Balding men have to get hair treatment procedures, and men of slumped statures are encouraged to look more built. And when they are a bit short, they have to look for ways to appear or get taller.
The basis for all this isn’t entirely cultural but also boils down to societal conditioning. There is a general belief, further attested to by the Association for Psychological Science, that attractive people are treated better in every aspect of life. Whether in the dating scene, or at the workplace, society sets a double standard where men and women are judged for wanting to look better, but also preferred for their good looks.
(Read also: Women and the Myth of Vagina Fragrance)
Aesthetic medicine handles a broad range of skin changing, including procedures for treating lines, wrinkles, sun spots, sagging skin, loss of facial volume, and other unwanted conditions of ageing skin. It also now makes use of lasers for hair removal treatments, vein, scars, and stretch mark therapy. Other core treatments include microdermabrasion (a cosmetic skin care procedure), mild chemical peels; medical facials, and photorejuvenation (a skin treatment that uses lasers, intense pulsed light, or photodynamic therapy to treat skin conditions and remove the effects of premature ageing. Botulinum toxin (a neurotoxic protein injected directly into the muscle), and injection lipolysis (fat-dissolving injections injected on areas of concern), are the two most popular aspects of aesthetic medicine.
Aesthetic medicine has been projected to be the safest and healthiest option as far as body enhancement is concerned, above surgical procedures, pills, and ointments, with permanent results, non-invasive sessions, and near-zero downtime. It does work, although not always, and certainly not instantly. However, who doesn’t like the easy way out? Zero workouts, no stress, and no exhaustion from redundant gym sessions, especially when assured of permanent results. Many devices claim to have the Food Drugs Authority (FDA) approval to execute these stress-free services. Currently, the most efficient among them is the Emsculpt by BTL Industries.
Emsculpt is in use at Oasis Med Spa, and has shown proven results in using electromagnetic energy to strengthen muscles, burn fat, and inspire the growth of new muscle fibres—something no workout regimen could ever do in such a short period. In a post on Oasis Med Spa’s Instagram page, a satisfied client compared a three-minute session to doing 1,000 crunches, squats, or arm curls in a single session. Riding on the success of the Emsculpt, BTL Industries introduced a device for cellulite destruction called the Emtone. Emtone is FDA-approved to reduce the appearance of cellulite in the upper and lower body without anaesthesia or downtime.
In my recent interview with Rufiat Li of Korea Filler Experts, a key supplier of aesthetic medicine to the Nigerian and international markets, he revealed that the Nigerian market is one of the biggest users of aesthetic medicine. He also listed some FDA-approved injectables (Lipo Lab PPC, Kabelline, Lemonbottle, Rabianca body filler, and Sedyfil body filler) that are safe to use and well-known in the Nigerian market.
The continuous success of aesthetic medicine has overridden its failure. Hence, the flaws do not threaten the market. Even so, unfavourable outcomes from this non-invasive, non-surgical procedure are not uncommon. Unauthorised and unqualified specialists are increasingly using untested and unproven substances or activating machines. Hence, they are risking the patient’s health and even life. And while there is a satisfaction or “confidence” that comes with this new body, or fixing up what we believe is faulty, it might really never be enough. We will always want more.
What are your thoughts? Is it worth it? Will you consent to lipolysis injections? Botulinum toxin or body fillers? Let us know your thoughts about aesthetic medicine in the comment section below.
Blessing Chinwendu Nwankwo, a film critic, beautician, and accountant, currently writes from Lagos State, Nigeria. Connect with her on Twitter at @Glowup_by_Bee and Instagram at @blackgirl_bee.