The viral “Botox Barbie” fad, in which women as young as 20 undergo toxin treatments to mimic the look of the film’s lead actress, Margot Robbie, could provoke opposition from users and limit the medical use of these procedures in the community Complicate the future, doctors warned.
Also known as “trap tox,” it’s commonly used by doctors to inject a class of drugs known as botulinum toxins, like Botox, into the trapezius muscles of the upper back to treat migraines and shoulder pain.
But since the release of the movie Barbie in July, demand for its use as a cosmetic procedure has increased. The BarbieBotox hashtag had 11.2 million views on TikTok.
The procedure “allegedly results in a thinning of the throat, and in a way the blame has been placed on the actress who plays Barbie,” Dustin Sjuts, president of Revance Therapeutics, said in an interview with Reuters.
“They don’t treat wrinkles or sagging skin. They want a narrower, slimmer, more contoured neck,” said Scot Glasberg, president-elect of the Plastic Surgery Foundation, which practices in New York.
Approval for this type of injection for aesthetic reasons is limited to facial treatments only, so the use of trapezius injection is off-label.
The US Food and Drug Administration places the responsibility for off-label use on healthcare professionals, who must assess such procedures as “medically appropriate.”
Meanwhile, Revance and Evolus Inc, which make similar toxins under the brand names Daxxify and Jeuveau, respectively, told Reuters that while “Botox Barbie” has picked up steam in recent months, they don’t expect the trend to significantly boost sales become. Botox maker AbbVie Inc declined to comment.
Risk of Botox resistance
According to Shilpi Kheterpal, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, increased use in younger women, whose immune systems tend to be stronger, also increases the risk of products becoming less effective over time.
“If you’re giving large amounts of Botox very frequently… over time, they can lose their potency, not just with Botox, but with the other products on the market because they all have a similar molecule,” Kheterpal said.
Doctors also warned of the risk of administration by people who may not be appropriately qualified, particularly in medispas where there is little oversight.
“There are no standards for the type of doctor who can run a medispa,” said Melissa Levoska, associate professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
“That’s technically how a family doctor or a gynecologist can open a medispa, and now more and more physician assistants and nurses are giving injections.”