“My generation doesn’t see anything wrong with getting work done,” said Bailey.
Like Bailey, more young women — some without a wrinkle in sight — are spending their savings to capture their youth.
It’s a phenomenon usually associated with the Kardashian capital of California, but thanks to social media and the quest for the perfect selfie, the trend is widespread.
Botox treatments for those 19 to 34 years old shot up by 41 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The use of Botox tends to rise and fall with the economy. It peaked prerecession in 2005, fell off dramatically during the downturn and now has returned to high levels, with more than half a million procedures a year in this age range.
Young women are getting the message that fillers and freezers will keep them in the fountain of youth longer and delay the need for more invasive procedures down the road.
So is it preventive? Botox is the brand name of the drug botulinum toxin, the world’s most lethal neurotoxic agent. In its purest form, the drug works by paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Doctors and dermatologists tell their patients that if they can limit repetitive gestures (squinting, frowning) that eventually cause wrinkles, they can prevent them in the first place vs. trying to correct them later.
Bailey, who is a clinical assistant and aesthetician, says cosmetic surgery procedures have helped her to feel more confident and she doesn’t see anything wrong with that. She has injected filler into her lips and under her eyes and jaw line, and has had liposuction under her chin.
“It’s addicting when you see the results right away and love it,” she said. “It’s a slippery slope, but I think most people want to look natural and not overdone.”
As millennials scrutinize themselves mercilessly in selfies, the stigma of cosmetic enhancements falls away.
For others, it’s more about concealing the effects of 50-hour work weeks and not enough sleep.
Melanie Lafferty has been getting Botox injections around her eyes for a year. The 33-year-old real estate agent said the procedure has eliminated the dark circles under her eyes.
“I look less tired and a little freshened up,” she said. “I’m OK with keeping up with the times.”
How young is too young? There are no U.S. laws preventing teens from indulging in Botox or fillers, but parental consent is required for patients younger than 18.
“At 18, most people still look pretty good, and yet we do have some 18-year-old patients,” Tholen said. “That’s typically driven by — say — their 36-year-old mothers who want their daughters to look good in a preventive sense and stay looking good.”
In general, Suess said women are paying more attention to their skin at a younger age.
“They’re better about using sunscreen and staying out of the sun, and Botox is a natural extension to that,” she said. “You’ll still look like you, just softer and refreshed. I compare it to getting your hair done.”
Selfie culture isn’t the only thing driving Botox business. Clinics offer VIP loyalty rewards programs, while Allergan, the maker of Botox, gives away free Botox treatments to women who get breast implants.
It’s not only millennial women who are smoothing the developing lines on their faces. Young men do, too — just fewer of them. Men now make up 10 percent of all Botox users, leading to it being dubbed “Brotox.”
Botox users on average spend $382 per treatment, according to a 2015 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. That’s not a drop in the bucket for a college student or someone just starting out in their career.
Wendy Jensen, 33, had been “dying to try Botox” when a friend invited her to a Botox party last year. There was a two-for-one deal, so Johnson also had a filler injected under her eyes to improve the look of her under-eye bags.
“I loved it. I would do it every six months if I could afford it,” she said. “I can tell I’m getting older and I want to look like I did in my 20s.”