Young influencers are getting free plastic surgery in exchange for promotion

by Susan Ryant

There is a horrifying uptick of young influencers receiving discounted cosmetic procedures in return for promotion. And the result is not just teens and early 20-somethings endorsing alterations to fellow teens and younger. Once they’ve had a taste of cheap procedures, the influencers can’t stop, giving rise to a new a form of body dysmorphia brought about by availability. And the core of this tragic trend is a cash grab for an industry already out of control. NBC News has an in-depth look at this and here’s a segment from that.

From Botox to breast implants, medical providers have turned to social media for a new kind of personalized advertising that comes directly from influencers. And in the growing industry of cosmetic providers, there are few to no rules when it comes to advertising body modifications, which opens the door to offering teenagers free, unlimited cosmetic procedures.

NBC News spoke with 12 social media personalities with audiences ranging from under 100,000 to more than 10 million followers who detailed how they feel pushed to look perfect in real life and online. This has led younger creators in their teens and early 20s to get cosmetic procedures, ranging from lip filler injections to plastic surgery — many of which they received at discounted rates. Many expressed regrets about some of their procedures. Six of them described feeling addicted to body modification.

“If you have an iPhone, it has affected you,” Sebastian Bails, a TikTok star with 12.8 million followers, said. He said he got his first cosmetic procedure, lip filler injections, when he was 18.

“I got my lips done, not because I was insecure, but because I was offered free lips,” he said. “Who is going to say no to free lips?”

[From NBC News via Yahoo!]

I would say no to free lips – and I have thin lips. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to change was my nose, but I don’t know that I would even do that if it was offered. Would I have accepted all this crap at 18? Hell yes. Because at a certain age, a person makes a choice to alter something because *they* have never been happy with it. But the message people this young must hear is that someone else is not happy with their features so they *need* whatever procedure is being offered to them. People quoted in the article admit they love attention, which is apparent from their vast followings. And having this work done is giving it to them. Sebastian Bails, who’s quoted above, saw his “likes and views and shares” go up with every procedure and he just kept getting more work does because if it. At one point, he said he had almost 20 syringes in his face every time he went to the doctor.

But there are age restrictions in place so how is this happening? Only board-certified plastic surgeons get reviewed, but med spas don’t, and they’re doing most of the work.

Individuals between ages 20 and 29 only receive 3 percent of total filler procedures and only 1 percent of total Botox procedures, according to 2020 data collected from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ pool of board-certified surgeons. Teenagers make up an even lower percentage, according to the same data.

But that data doesn’t account for med spas, an industry valued at $4.8 billion in 2021, that is loosely regulated. The spas have become popular destinations for simple procedures such as Botox and fillers.

I appreciate the few people quoted in the article who came clean. But almost everyone involved is doing major CYA. TikTok said they aren’t to blame because they don’t allow unethical sponsored ads. So the influencers do “shoutouts” and tag the businesses instead. It’s a simple workaround that everyone knows. The influencers say they aren’t to blame because they make it very clear they are just doing these procedures for themselves and never push them on anyone else. They are influencers solely because what they post sways their followers, they know that. The below board businesses don’t try to absolve themselves while the board certified businesses say they counsel their patients before having procedures done. I don’t buy it. I was “counseled” out of a procedure at the age of 36. If they honestly thought the patient shouldn’t have one done, these numbers would not exist in people this young. This is all frightening. I need to recheck all my kids’ social media to see who they are looking at.

This influencer quoted in the article is 19 years old:

Photo credit: Instagram