Fillers. Love them or hate them, they’re having ‘a moment’. With the likes of Kylie Jenner, as well as our OG Kylie Minogue, both known to have had facial enhancements (lip fillers, botox, cheek fillers, etc.) it’s impossible to avoid images of impossibly smooth, plump, young looking women wherever we look. Often, beauty magazines plaster their front pages with unflattering images of recently tweaked celebs with obnoxiously bold, capitalised subtitles declaring their look “BOTCHED” or “SHOCKING”. More worrying is the tendency for magazines to associate facial aesthetic procedures with mental health; a small dose of botox or a boob job becomes synonymous with a mental breakdown or depression. The question is, should facial aesthetic procedures be considered the norm and a freedom of choice? Or are we being conditioned by the beauty industry to crave increasingly impossible standards of beauty?

It currently seems like a lose-lose situation. Choose to go under the needle with fillers and Botox, you’re described as “fake” and “plastic”, without them, you’re “plain” or “old”. Women considering lip fillers are often considered weak and self-conscious, pressured into costly procedures by social media and celebrities. As I myself have never had facial aesthetics procedures, I asked two women who had chosen to undertake certain alterations to explain their decision and if they would recommend it to others.

Lauren*, in her early thirties, explained that she didn’t believe an outside pressure to look young influenced her decision to have botox, “if anything, I feel more pressure for a flat tummy and toned body than any desire to remove facial lines”. She clarified that she’s a big believer in each to their own and that there’s no one-size fits all formula for if one should choose to have fillers or not; it’s up to the individual. Lauren said “I didn’t personally feel pressure for Botox. I notice more and more that celebrities have lines, sagging and movement and I’m not a fan of the full frozen face (achieved by topping up before your Botox has dissolved). I always want natural movement”.

Katie*, aged 23, first started having lip fillers last August and says she feels a great deal more confident with plumper lips.

“It’s always something I’d wanted to have done, and I researched my nurse thoroughly before I decided to take the plunge. The way I see it, it’s no different to wearing your favourite outfit or putting on makeup; it’s a freedom of choice which best displays your inner self to the world. I feel more confident and happier since having lip fillers, so surely that can only be a good thing?”

One worry often plaguing those wishing to have fillers or Botox is the risk of overfilling, infection or freezing the face. Lauren, like Katie, emphasised the importance of researching where you go for your procedure, as well as exactly the effect you wish to see.

“It’s not something I’d do by reviews alone, as internet feedback is often meaningless. With something like facial injections, I need to see evidence of real people who have had it done. I’d look for someone with lots of before and after pics. It is also worth pointing out that it should only be done by registered nurse in a sterile, medical environment, not in someone’s living room.”

There are currently no regulations in the UK restricting who can perform injections, how much can be injected and the environment in which the procedure is carried out. If you do decide to go under the needle, think of it as any other medical procedure. You want to be in a sterile environment with a qualified practitioner. There are plenty of YouTube videos demonstrating reputable establishments and they give a thorough run down of many common fillers and Botox procedures (take a look at Jamie Genevieve and Hannah Renée for brutally honest and informative videos on lip fillers, Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels and many more treatments).

Katie admitted that she found it easy to become addicted to lip fillers after a few procedures. “After the initial swelling had reduced, I’d find myself wishing they were bigger again, like they had been in the first 24-48 hours after injecting. If you’re worried about accidentally taking it too far, I would recommend asking family and friends to give their honest advice; sometimes the fact that you see your face every day means you don’t see the changes as much as others.”

As for after care with Botox, Lauren explained “Once the Botox is done there isn’t much after care, it just takes care of itself. The results differ from almost immediately after injecting, to up to two weeks after. I noticed it had kicked in when I tried to raise my eyebrow to pluck a hair and my brows didn’t move, though this died down after a few days”

Both women agreed that having facial alterations was the right choice for them and that they did not regret their decision, though they urged caution for those undergoing the needle for the first time. “Do not let anybody else influence your decision. It must come from you alone” said Katie, “it took me months of research and thought to finally decide to book my lip fillers and I’m so glad I did. I knew that I trusted my nurse and that this was a decision made with no outside pressure”.

Lauren also emphasised the valid point that fillers and Botox are not permanent, but fade over time. If you decide after a few injections that you want to return to your original look, you can wait for the filler to dissolve naturally, or have it dissolved by your nurse. Unlike tattoos, they are not for life, though with such a delicate procedure, one shouldn’t enter into it lightly.

I’ll end by repeating a sentiment I’ve expressed a few times while writing for SCAN: your aesthetic is first and foremost your aesthetic. Wear what you want, do your makeup how you want (or don’t do your makeup at all), get fillers, get a boob job, go natural; it’s your choice. The most important thing is not to let anyone else’s definition of beauty influence your personal choices.

*Names changed to ensure anonymity