YOU’RE walking down the street and suddenly you do a double take and try not to stare as you spot them.
A person who has undergone so much cosmetic surgery their cheeks have bulged, jawline sharpened and eyebrows lifted as if resembling Angelina Jolie in Disney’s Maleficent.
With DIY lip filler kits costing as little as £43 it’s increasingly easy to get surgery – people can even get their foreheads tightened on their lunch break.
But is this too much of a good thing? Well it can lead to what one top doctor has dubbed “alienisation” – looking as if you are, quite literally, from out of space.
One such woman who has taken it way too far is Anastasia Pokreschuk, 32, from Kiev, Ukraine.
The model describes herself as a “beautiful monster” and says that she’s happy with her features after undergoing filler all over her face.
“I have Botox, fillers in my cheeks, fillers in my lips, fillers in my jaw angles and my chin,” she says.
But she provoked shock and horror on This Morning yesterday when she appeared.
“Alien would have been more fitting,” commented one woman of her appearance.
Dr Steven Harris, an aesthetic doctor, says Anastasia’s look is sadly not unusual – and is the “new normal”.
“‘Russian’ lips, where lips are injected multiple times, are projecting more and more vertically,” he says.
“Chins are coming further out. Jawlines and cheeks are protruding further out and becoming sharper.
“I’ve spent years watching the build up of a worrying trend which is now completely out of control.
“I call it ‘alienisation’ – where a patient’s facial features have been injected with so much filler or Botox that the person doesn’t look like a normal human anymore.
“But as the number of people with alien faces has risen, the number of people I help who desperately want alienisation reversing has exploded too.”
Dr Harris, who spends much of his time reversing “alienisation”, pointed the finger of blame on “poorly qualified and greedy practitioners”.
“They are preying on people with psychological issues that shouldn’t be given cosmetic treatments at all,” he says, adding much of his business is actually reversing treatments other people had done.
“We’ve been bombarded by images of people with alien faces on social media to the point where it’s become the new normal.”
He is worried that, in targeting vulnerable people, such practitioners could be causing or worsening psychological problems – which in turn could raise the risk of suicide.
“It’s difficult to hold a conversation with someone with significant alienisation because you become fixated on their distortions,” he says.
“The patient is then going to have their friendships and relationships affected by such a negative social feedback loop.
“Alienisation preys on patients who have image disorders – low self-esteem about the way they look – and psychiatric disorders like body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
“These patients have a distorted view of themselves, and they sometimes also see particular features distorted in others.
“BDD in particular is associated with a very high suicide rate. Treating these patients leads to no good.
“A psychiatrist colleague and I did a small survey back in 2016 which found there was actually a higher rate of BDD among cosmetic practitioners (around 16%) compared with the patient population (around 8-15%).”
Although he doesn’t suggest the stars of Love Island have “alienisation” – although some like Faye Winter have admitted to having surgery – he says their appearance could impact on how people see themselves.
“Reality TV stars like those on Love Island and other influencers have fuelled demand for increasingly radical cosmetic treatments,” he says.
“With millions of us spending time staring at ourselves on Zoom during lockdown, the pandemic has also pushed more people into wanting more cosmetic procedures.”
Dr Harris says reversing procedures isn’t always plain sailing.
“Undoing the distorted look often involves dissolving fillers by injecting an enzyme to break them down,” he says. “Then I’ll typically redo the treatment the patient wanted performing correctly in the first place.
“I’m deeply concerned by the increased risks associated with distorting features – not just physical risks, but psychological risks too.
“My way of fighting it initially was to show how normal-looking results with careful amounts of filler can be achieved and look beautiful and sexy.
“Most of my reversal cases are on lips, where they’ve been overfilled and distorted to such an extent that the patient looks like a cartoon character, and the filler has started spreading out.
“They usually want it reversed ASAP.
“Two weeks after they’ve had that done, I’ll offer them treatment for normal-looking lips – I call it ‘normalisation’, and I refer to my clinic as a ‘normalisation clinic’.
“But it’s not just lips. Every area of the face can be affected, from overblown cheeks, temples, jaw-lines, chins, noses, tear troughs (the hollow region under the eyes).
“And the reversal itself carries risks – some people can have severe allergic reactions to the reversing agent, which is called hyaluronidase.
“Then if the patient wants ‘normalising’ treatment on top of that, that’s another £350.
“So you’re looking at £600 to have fillers reversed and treated properly, when you could have just had a normal-looking procedure done for half the money.”
He supports Fabulous’ Had Our Fill campaign which has cracked down on unscrupulous practitioners who are more concerned with money and greed than their clients’ wellbeing.
Anyone in this country can grab a syringe and start injecting
Dr Steven Harris
“Many practitioners themselves look like aliens and aren’t able to see the problem,’ he says. “It’s quite a complex issue. But we really need to get talking about it.
“It can be difficult to judge the standard of treatment you’re going to get from a given clinic.
“A lot of the before-and-after shots you see on social media are photoshopped, so you don’t always know what you’re getting.
“And while there’s no hard data of how much alienisation is happening, a quick look on Instagram show’s there’s been an explosion of abnormal, distorted results.
“The direction we’re heading in is worrisome.
“I have been an aesthetic doctor for 17 years and performed over 40,000 procedures.
“But anyone in this country can grab a syringe and start injecting without any formal training.
“People carrying out these treatments should at the very least be healthcare practitioners who can prescribe, and who can deal with complications.
“If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be practising.”
Dr Steven Harris is an award winning aesthetic doctor at the Harris Clinic in Crouch End, north London
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support: