“I think education and really reinforcing self-worth, self-esteem and body image is a good thing and should start at a young age.
“I think education and really reinforcing self-worth, self-esteem and body image is a good thing and should start at a young age."

Muscles can ‘waste away’: Teens warned against botox

Teenagers should be educated about the dangers of cosmetic treatments to prevent them from being lured into having botox or surgical procedures soon after they leave school, according to a leading plastic surgeon.

Dr Peter Laniewski said he's aware of people as young as 18 having botox, potentially risking lasting changes to their facial muscles which can "waste away" if teens get hooked on the injections.

And cosmetic procedures aren't just popular among young women - the Sydney-based surgeon said men are also getting non-surgical treatments for conditions such as gynecomastia, often referred to as "man boobs".

"I think education and really reinforcing self-worth, self-esteem and body image is a good thing and should start at a young age," Dr Laniewski said.

Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Peter Laniewski.
Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Peter Laniewski.

"(Botox) is really designed for rejuvenation and enhancement of people when they age - it's not designed for people... when they're 18 or 21."

The NSW government has supported a string of recommendations to protect the public from botched treatments, including stopping rogue operators from using the "cosmetic surgeon" title.

It will also consider whether cosmetic health services by non-registered practitioners should be subject to a cooling-off period.

The current cooling-off period for adult patients is seven days for major cosmetic procedures such as breast augumentation or liposuction.

No cooling-off periods apply for minor procedures such as laser hair removal, chemical peels and injections.

The NSW government is also cracking down on the cosmetic industry. Picture: iStock
The NSW government is also cracking down on the cosmetic industry. Picture: iStock

Patients under the age of 18 must wait at least three months for major procedures and seven days for minor treatments.

Dr Laniewski warned teens against cosmetic procedures until they have finished growing, saying they could "develop permanent changes as a result of their early uptake of applying toxins".

"It takes a long time to happen but you can get loss of muscle bulk ... when muscles are not working they waste away," he said.

Dr Laniewski said social media is a big part of the problem because young people only ever see successful cosmetic procedures.

"Generally only anything positive is portrayed on social media so any real world outcomes never really appears... they're seeing a distorted version of events," he said.