A new tech platform allows you to ‘Photoshop’ your face before your consultation. Is this a good thing? We ask the experts...
There’s no shying away from the fact that cosmetic treatments, from Botox to injectables such as Juvederm and Profhilo , have become part of the everyday conversation. Now a new service aims to make it easier for people to get their look of choice and find a doctor to do it.
NowMe is a cosmetic tech platform that connects cosmetic doctors, many of whom are respected names in their field such as plastic surgeon Norman Waterhouse of the Waterhouse Clinic, directly to patients who are looking for non-surgical and surgical treatments. You search for the treatment you are after in your geographical area and the site suggests practitioners to contact. You can then upload a selfie and apply digital ‘tweakments’ to your face or body – fuller lips, contoured face etc – to take with you to your consultation, should you decide to go ahead. The feature works like FaceTune or Photoshop and if you don’t want to use a picture of yourself, there’s a model image you can ‘tweak’ too.
But is this ‘face tuning’ approach to surgery a good thing? It comes amid a report by The Sunday Times , which revealed surgeons and doctors had raised alarm bells over the growing number of teenagers as young as 13 seeking Botox treatments to look like celebrities. The surgeons expressed their concern that a surge in mental health and self-esteem problems were the root of the issue, as well as the growing obsession with celebrity culture.
The ‘Rich Girl Face’ aesthetic has been one of the biggest trends in 2019 for 20-29 year-olds according to the Harley Street doctor Dr Dirk Kremer who coined the term after he saw the rise in demand among patients in their 20s. It includes a cocktail of Botox fillers, dermal fillers, and chemical peels to achieve a plumper, fuller looking face, a look is inspired by reality shows such as Made in Chelsea and The Real Housewives and isn’t designed to look discreet.
Last year high street giant Superdrug began offering in-store Botox injections and responded to criticism by bringing in mandatory mental health checks for patients.
NowMe founder Vikash Agarwal says the platform has been designed to be a safe space and is not designed for anyone under the age of 18. “Our USP is our smart technologies which are engineered to filter out underage users, and help our users understand their options better,” he says. “Our users can be 100 per cent assured that the doctors they meet on our platform are GMC [General Medical Council] registered and experts in their fields. We only partner with the UK’s top plastic surgeons and doctors who strongly support our mission and provide treatments to 18 years and older, unless medically required.”
Alice Hart-Davis, beauty expert and the creator of The Tweakments Guide online platform and book, believes platforms such as this can be informative for people interested in treatments. She says: “Any site that offers impartial information about cosmetic procedures has to be a good thing; it’s an area that people are increasingly curious about, but hugely confused about. And the visual tool, where you can play with your features is irresistible. What would you look like with poutier lips or bigger boobs? Just upload a picture and have a play.” But she’s also cautious. “It sounds like - and it is - fun, but is it a good idea for anyone already insecure about their looks? Hmm.”
"What bothers me more is the fact that the site offers to arrange to finance for cosmetic procedures - offering loans, for this reason, is something that the Nuffield Committee for Bio-ethics pointed up as an example of poor practice in their report last August," she says, adding that surgical and non-surgical treatments are medical procedures, not consumer purchases. "This seems to be a line that is gradually being blurred in people's minds."
The idea that you can book a consultation with one of the site’s GMC-registered and well-known surgeons makes the process easier for both surgeons and patients, says Hart-Davis. The enhanced selfie feature is rather like turning up at the hairdresser with a picture of Jennifer Aniston’s latest do and hoping it will translate. “At least it will help the conversation about what it is about your face that bothers you, and how you would like it changed.”
NowMe maintains that its ethos is to educate patients rather than push them into undergoing cosmetic procedures they’re not physically or mentally prepared for. While concerns have been raised over a rise in self-esteem issues and body dysmorphia, it appears the industry is working to ensure patients are clued up on the processes before they step into the clinic.
Jessica tried the visual tool on NowMe
Dr Rozina Ali, an award-winning aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon who is signed up to the platform, disputes recent claims that Botox is used to make teenagers look like their favourite celebrity. “Botox has many uses including the treatment for hyperhidrosis (excess sweating) and muscle spasm or asymmetry,” she says. “It doesn’t make anyone look like their favourite celebrity, it’s simply a muscle relaxant.”
“Patients are encouraged to bring in pictures of themselves and if I suspect unrealistic expectations, I will decline surgery. If I suspect body dysmorphia, I will alert the GP and offer referral to psychiatry services. Patients who decline these services are not offered plastic surgery.”
Find NowMe at www.NowMe.co.uk
Find beauty expert and author, Alice Hart-Davis, at www.thetweakmentsguide.com
Follow Jessica on Instagram @jessicanoahmorgan