Gen Z and the Age Paradox: A Guide to Filler in Your 20s

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Recent headlines have accused reality stars in their 20s of appearing more like 40, thanks to the “work” they’ve had done with cosmetic enhancements. The Love Island UK cast, in particular, has faced online criticism, highlighting a growing trend among Gen Z to embrace injectables. This age group is undergoing more cosmetic procedures than any previous generation at their age. This trend was highlighted in a recent report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which noted an 8 percent increase in neurotoxin and filler injections among young adults.

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“Recently, there has been a noticeable rise in patients in their 20s seeking fillers. This age group is often motivated by a desire to enhance their natural features, achieve symmetry and prevent early signs of aging,” says Miami dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD. “The pervasive influence of social media and reality TV shows has also played a significant role in shaping their beauty ideals, pushing them towards cosmetic enhancements to match those seen on screen.”

Lips are by far the most popular injection for patients in their 20s. I think this is driven by social media and peer pressure,” notes West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth R. Beer, MD. “Teens are usually motivated to get these injections because they want to fit in. According to anthropologists, there’s also a component where larger lips are associated with reproduction, which may be driving some of it.”

While these treatments can enhance features, overdoing them can ironically age you prematurely. Here’s how to navigate injectables in your 20s wisely.

Choose a Qualified Injector

Dr. Beer says step one is going to the right injector. “So many of these younger patients lack the experience and judgment to find a good injector and they end up with lips that are not proportional and are overfilled.” He says to opt for experienced dermatologists or plastic surgeons who understand facial anatomy and can tailor treatments to enhance your features subtly.

“Choose an experienced injector who understands facial anatomy and aesthetic harmony,” adds Dr. Chacon. “This approach helps in achieving results that complement the patient’s natural features.”

Start Slow

Begin with minimal amounts of filler and only gradually add more if necessary. Overfilling can distort facial proportions and lead to an unnatural look. According to Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill, a conservative approach is the only way to go and if your injector doesn’t agree, go somewhere else. “There are a few factors that may contribute to an overfilled appearance such as excessive volume, inappropriate product placement, frequency of treatments, choice of filler and lack of experience,” she says. “I always suggest my patients start slow and use minimal fillers to achieve subtle enhancements. I find it important to discuss the overall goal and achievements with my patients to understand and set realistic expectations.”

Opt for Reversible Fillers

Using reversible, hyaluronic acid-based filler is also an important tip. These fillers can be dissolved if needed, providing flexibility in adjusting treatments and mitigating risks associated with permanent fillers. “To achieve natural-looking results, I prefer using hyaluronic acid-based fillers due to their versatility and natural feel,” says Dr. Chacon. “Techniques such as microinjections and gradual layering allow for precise control over the final outcome, ensuring subtle enhancements. Young patients should be aware of how fillers interact with natural aging and skin elasticity.”

“Lips are often one of the first areas treated and there is a misconception that filler wears off within a year, when in reality these products often last much longer than that,” cautions New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD. “A newer area where I’m getting more requests is the tear trough, which I think is a dangerous trend. This is a very complex and delicate part of the face. Fillers behave differently here than in other parts of the face and can often be difficult to dissolve.”

Avoid Trends

Dr. Day warns against following trends blindly. Trends may not suit everyone’s facial structure and can lead to unnatural results. Instead, focus on enhancing your natural beauty and facial symmetry. “The biggest factors are the wrong fillers placed in the wrong areas,” she says. “There are trends like ‘snatched jawline’ that become popular, but most patients in their 20s don’t need this. Overfilled cheeks and nasolabial folds are other areas that lead to an overfilled, unnatural appearance, making this age group look older than their years.”

Think Balance

Overfilling lips or cheeks is a common pitfall among young patients. Excessive volume in these areas can distort facial proportions and make you look older than you are. “Your injector should take time to analyze your face and understand why you are asking for specific treatments or products,” says Dr. Day. “We look at photos and trends on TikTok and Instagram and discuss ways to achieve the desired results without overfilling and sometimes without filling at all.”

Integrate Skin Care

Skin-care basics should not be neglected. Instead of relying solely on fillers, invest in good products that support healthy skin and complement the effects of fillers for a youthful glow. “Optimal correction is often done over several visits. Also, most people in their 20s don’t need fillers at all,” says Dr. Day. “Consider a great skin-care regimen, light laser peels, Sofwave, or Broadband Light with Thulium laser to improve skin tone and texture and enhance collagen production, so you continue to age well and look your natural, authentic best.” This includes using sunscreen, hydration and products tailored to your skin type and concerns.

Think Long-Term

Lastly, avoiding long-term dependency on fillers is advisable. Dr. Day notes, “Fillers often last longer than expected and can migrate.” Over-reliance on fillers can lead to unnecessary treatments and potential complications. Consider noninvasive treatments like laser peels or light therapies to enhance collagen production and maintain skin health without solely relying on injectables.

While fillers can enhance natural beauty and boost confidence, moderation and a thoughtful approach are key. Remember, enhancing your features should enhance your natural beauty, not change it drastically.

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