What is 'Barbie Botox', and why are health experts against this beauty trend?


Far from trivial, it involves injecting botulinum toxin into the trapezius muscle to create the effect of a longer neck and sculpted shoulders. Photo: AFP

The cult of the perfect body still rides high, and the success of the Barbie film – which sought to expose many such cliches and constraints – may actually have amplified it.

After the craze for "Baby Botox", an alternative considered milder and more natural than the full works, here comes "Barbie Botox", a technique that's far from new, but which has gained fresh interest with the release of the feature film dedicated to the cult doll.

The technique involves getting Botox injections in the trapezius muscle to refine the neck and shoulders. And, as you'd expect, the procedure is anything but trivial.

Read more: You've heard of Botox as a beauty treatment, but what about Baby Botox?

Mostly in the US

The #BarbieBotox hashtag already has over 12 million views on the Chinese social network TikTok. That's enough to cause a stir, but it's by no means a widespread trend, let alone a global one.

Looking at the videos posted with the hashtag, it transpires that few users have actually succumbed to this cosmetic procedure.

And those are the ones that count most of the views on the subject – and which are the source of discussion, debate, praise and criticism.

Similarly, the users in question are mostly in the US, where the technique seems to be particularly sought-after, as Dr Catherine Bergeret-Galley, a plastic surgeon and member of the French Society of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (SOFCEP), explains.

"Barbie Botox or Traptox is a technique that's currently gaining ground in the US. It involves young women getting injections in the upper part of the trapezius muscle, which is very broad, in the upper back and neck, and very often bulked up in bodybuilders," the expert says.

"More precisely, they are injected with one or two vials of botulinum toxin, averaging 100 to 200 units per side, to reduce the strength and prominence of this muscle on either side of the cervical spine."

Once the injections have been performed – as can be seen on the TikTok account of one user who tried the technique – the neck seems to become more refined with each passing day, while the hollow between the nape of the neck and the shoulders seems more pronounced, and the bones more prominent.

The objective is indeed to slim this part of the body.

A useful technique... in certain cases

No aesthetic medical procedure is trivial, which is why it's important to seek the advice of an experienced health professional, and not to be tempted by the ridiculously low prices often seen on social platforms, as is – once again – the case with "Barbie Botox".

"French plastic surgeons are not very keen on this type of technique, which is useless if performed without any real [clinical] indication... As with any aesthetic medical procedure, excess carries risks," adds Dr Bergeret-Galley.

"There's no reason to inject the upper part of the trapezius muscle in a young, slender woman with weak musculature, unless there's a particular sore spot that could lead to neck pain or headaches,"

In such cases, "the advice of a neurologist or rheumatologist will be invaluable".

Read more: Not just for getting a youthful-looking face, botox is being used on the feet...

The plastic surgeon also points out that the actual medical reasons for getting "Barbie Botox" are "unbearable tension of the muscle [in question], permanent contraction, [and] specific pain on pressure of the muscle or radiating into the skull and causing headaches," which fall within the remit of "therapeutic treatment".

It's worth noting that while the Barbie film gave this technique a new name, Traptox had already been brought back into the spotlight by Kim Kardashian, with the reality television star confessing to having used it.

The trend had already gone viral, with no fewer than 26 million views for the associated hashtag on the Chinese social network.

Botulinum toxin injections of all kinds have been booming for several years now, representing the world's most popular aesthetic procedure (43% of all procedures), ahead of hyaluronic acid injections (28%), according to IMCAS data.

This has given rise to some dubious practices, called out by professionals in the sector, notably with the emergence of illegal injectors.

These "fake injectors" are not qualified or authorised to carry out these injections, which are liable to cause serious adverse effects.

These individuals are particularly active on social networks.

"We really need to be vigilant and only offer patients treatments that are well-founded, and above all that our young patients resist the call, not of sirens, but of influencers, which is unfortunately all too common," explains Dr Bergeret-Galley.

She concludes: "Better is the enemy of good, so let's stay beautiful and natural, within reason." – AFP Relaxnews

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beauty , trends , TikTok , Barbie , Botox


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