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2nd December 2022

Extreme beauty procedures: The Botox craze

We look into rising botox trends that move beyond the face into the strangest places imaginable, like feet and bladders! Read about the doctors who perform these treatments and the reasons people are getting.
Extreme beauty procedures: The Botox craze
Photo: Sashi Chaturvedula @ Unsplash

Botox is no longer a stigmatic, elitist procedure but rather something that many people – celebrity or non-celebrity – get to prevent ageing. While some botox can be used to treat medical conditions, for cosmetic purposes it remains one of the best-selling beauty trends since the early 2000s with approximately up to six million people receiving botox each year.

It comes as no surprise that the procedure achieves such popularity, with successful results, it is proudly endorsed by celebrities. Botox even received a Cosmopolitan Beauty Award in 2021.

When the majority of people talk about Botox, they are usually referring to the dermatologic procedure whereby wrinkles are reduced on the face by smoothing out the skin with a nerve-blocking drug, but now it seems that people are using Botox on their feet, hair and even their bladders!

Upon reading Highsnobiety’s article on ‘foot Botox’ I knew that this was an area I would need to do a deep dive into.

So, what exactly is this new Botox craze and how exactly did it come about?

Botox (the brand name for the drug botulinum toxin) became FDA-approved 20 years ago and is the most effective way to minimise the appearance of wrinkles. It works via injection into the selected areas of the face and blocks nerve signals so that the muscles can’t contract and consequently don’t wrinkle.

The procedure is relatively mid-range with it costing from $250 to have your forehead done, but celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Cindy Crawford, and Linda Evangelista probably pay upwards of $600 for that area alone.

In a society where sadly older women are expected to stay looking eternally young in order to be perceived as attractive, it’s understandable that a lot of people turn to this cosmetic procedure.

What is news though is the trend of Botox being used on other body parts for a variety of reasons.

Extreme beauty procedures are no rare unicorn, in fact they now seem relatively common, for example the Kardashians’ Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBLs) which they denied but their pre-2022 figures seemed impossible to achieve without them.

Despite the procedure having a high mortality rate of one in every 3000 surgeries, BBLs rose by 90.3% between 2015 to 2019. The beauty industry has once again created a procedure so that women can live up to ever-changing ephemeral beauty standards.

But foot Botox seemed to me to be almost too shocking to be true; if the headline hadn’t come from a Highsnobiety article I wouldn’t have believed it.

Writer Alexandra Pauly said that due to the resurgence of high heels after the pandemic as people return to the office and consequently office parties (as well as other in-person gatherings), people are “having trouble adjusting to footwear’s new heights,” and so are turning to Botox “to make their towering shoes more comfortable.”

The drug’s muscle-relaxing effect can also be used to address foot pain caused by high heels: “A shot of Botox… paralyses the muscles on your heel bone, thereby reducing discomfort.”

Some people are also receiving dermal filler (used in facelifts) to “the balls of patients’ feet for added cushioning.”

If that wasn’t crazy enough, Highsnobiety also published an article less than half a year ago about a New York City urologist administering Botox to Manhattan’s one per cent to cure ‘Hamptons Bladder’.

Dr. David Shusterman uses the drug to inject it directly into people’s bladders to decrease urinary frequency for women, “allowing rich people to drive to the Hamptons faster.”

His slogan ‘race to the Hamptons, not to the bathroom’ has allegedly helped thousands of people. They no longer have to pee in public bathrooms – thank goodness.

On the other end of the spectrum, botox is being used under an umbrella term to hydrate and strengthen people’s hair in the form of a deep-conditioning treatment. The name is purely a marketing move suggesting that the effects of smoothing and softening your hair will be as effective as those of Botox on the skin.

Since it is usually only received in hair salons, the treatment contains more potent forms of active ingredients. Plus, there’s added benefit of Botox being tailored to your hair type and sometimes even enhanced with red light therapy, to achieve an effect that could not be done at home. If you can afford the $30 – $300 dollar procedure, then hair botox is meant to be a brilliant quarterly treatment for all hair types and concerns.

Whilst I’m looking to improve my own hair health, I think I will give hair botox a miss for the time being!

So, what does the Botox craze tell us about society today?

In my opinion, it’s a reflection of the impossible beauty standards set out by a society that people are forever trying to live up to whether that’s through extreme beauty procedures, trends, or diets.

Of course, I’d never shame anyone for choosing Botox or any other cosmetic procedure, but I can’t help but wonder when society will embrace diversity, body positivity and ageing, amongst other things.

With the reincarnation of the deadly heroin chic trend that contributed to thousands of eating disorders in the 90s and 2000s, and now people getting foot Botox to deal with the discomfort of high heels, I’d encourage people to prioritise their own health above trends and beauty standards.

Let’s hope that the Botox trend stops where it is – I will certainly, for the moment, stick to my gua sha and Dr Martens!

Imogen Mingos

Imogen Mingos

Head Fashion & Beauty Editor 2023-24 | Winner of Best Newcomer (The Mancunion) at SU Awards 2023

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