Clinicians are concerned about the new fad growing among youngsters under the age of 25: Botox.
The need to undergo injections for wrinkle-free skin has become a trend among people belonging in this age group, but research suggests that "frozen faces" could hinder them from being able to fully express their emotions.
Botox and similar treatments temporarily paralyze upper facial muscles to minimize wrinkling brought about by frowning. Despite this aesthetic benefit, a group of plastic surgeons from the United Kingdom wrote that giving teenagers the Botox treatment is "morally wrong."
Researcher Helen Collier, a nurse practitioner, points to celebrity culture and reality TV shows as the reasons why young people are idealising the inexpressive frozen face. She believes that the facial feedback hypothesis, a well-known psychological theory, plays an important role on how teens develop emotions. The theory suggests that young people best relate to others by unconsciously mimicking their facial expressions.
Collier adds that the human ability to show various emotions depends a lot on facial expressions. However, a generation of "blank-faced" youth could be detrimental to their ability to fully express their feelings. This inability might stunt their social and emotional growth.
According to Cardiff University psychology researcher Dr. Michael Lewis, the expressions on our face affect the emotions we have. "Smiling also makes us happy," he said. Botox hinders a person from conveying a particular facial expression. This has an effect on learning to naturally feel emotions.
Collier's study, published in the Journal of Aesthetic Nursing, recommends practitioners' use of assessment tools to evaluate whether there is indeed a clinical basis for Botox treatment.
The research adds the importance of boosting the self-esteem of young people, which helps them build a stronger sense of self and lesser need to resort to Botox.
For British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Rajiv Grover, injecting teens with Botox for vanity's sake can worsen body image issues, since teenage years are a vulnerable period.