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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 12:14 GMT
Botox boom among young women

By Hannah Morrison
Newsbeat reporter

Abigail Willmitt trying to frown - without success
Abigail Willmitt tries to frown - without success - after her jabs
A rising number of women in their 20s are getting Botox before they have even started to get wrinkles or lines.

It is to stop the ageing process kicking-in in the first place. But some doctors are warning they are wasting their money.

Radio 1's Newsbeat and 1Xtra have surveyed salons and clinics across the UK and they all have told us Botox customers are getting younger.

One of the main cosmetic centres in the country says a quarter of its clients are now aged under 30 and that number has doubled in three years.

Radio 1 listener Abigail Willmitt, 23, starting having the treatment when she was 21.

She said: "I had a pretty strong frown but no actual wrinkles there. When I looked at my mum she's got a really strong frown line, so I went and had it done. It's just a preventative measure."

Muscles paralysed

The injection temporarily paralyses muscles in the face so it is virtually impossible to frown or raise your eyebrows.

It is these movements that eventually lead to lines and wrinkles.

Abigail continued: "Nobody actually looks at you and thinks you've had something done. It just means you can't frown. You don't look odd or anything, you just can't look angry."

Abigail Willmitt trying to raise her eyebrows and still no wrinkles
Abigail trying to raise her eyebrows and still no wrinkles

Dr Nick Lowe does hundreds of Botox treatments a year at his clinic in central London but he does not agree with injecting people who are too young.

He told Newsbeat: "You've got to have some lines and wrinkles to start with. A lot of people come in as a result of peer pressure, when there's absolutely no need for them to have it.

"It's very easy to coerce them in to having that treatment and I think you need to advise against it."

'Step up from face cream'

But 24-year-old Molly says it should be down to personal choice whether you have it done or not. She's been having injections at the side of her eyes for 18 months to stop them creasing up when she smiles.

FACT BOX: BOTOX
Botox was first used in 1980 to treat muscle disorders like lazy eye, eye ticks and uncontrolled blinking
In small doses, Botox works by paralysing the muscles of the face which are used in frowning and raising the eyebrows
When these muscles relax, the fine lines and wrinkles smooth out
In larger doses, Botox can leave the face with a lack of expression
Some Hollywood stars have injections in their armpits to paralyse the sweat glands there
Side effects include soreness or mild bruising and headaches
She explained: "I see it as a step up from face cream. People who are against it, a lot of them have facials, a lot of them have treatments done."

But with treatments coming in at 200 a time it can be costly.

The effects wear off after four months so if you want to maintain the look you have to keep going back.

As a result, there are worries that the younger end of the market will go for cheaper, less regulated options. Dr Lowe is concerned that high street salons are offering cut price deals.

He said: "It's not a dangerous treatment unless you go to someone whose not trained in it. You could get a loss of facial expression and a dropping of the brows and you can look completely frozen."

The advice from doctors is make sure the person administering the injections is a medical professional. Beauty therapists are not allowed to do it.



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