Friday 27 April 2018

Let's face it: How to wrinkle out a bargain over the Border

Anti-wrinkle treatments to smooth the skin are cheaper over the Border, writes Aideen Sheehan

Library Image.
Library Image.
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

Ireland is the Botox capital of the world, with the entire global supply of the cosmetic wonder-drug manufactured in Westport. But with treatments costing up to €350 a go, we wondered if, despite the downturn, Irish people are continuing to get injected with the wrinkle-busting drug.

Ireland is the Botox capital of the world, with the entire global supply of the cosmetic wonder-drug manufactured in Westport. But with treatments costing up to €350 a go, we wondered if, despite the downturn, Irish people are continuing to get injected with the wrinkle-busting drug.

What we found is that hundreds are travelling north of the Border to avail of cheaper treatments up there.

Botox-makers Allergan do not disclose details of sales in Ireland or other individual countries – they'll only say that worldwide sales were up 15pc in early 2013 compared to the same time last year, reaching €2bn annually, though half of that is for other medical uses such as relieving migraine.

But though Botox has become synonymous with wrinkle-treating drugs in the same way "hoover" did with vacuum cleaners, it's actually just one of a number of almost identical wrinkle-treating drugs including Dysport and Azzalure, which are also used here.

But while there are numerous clinics offering Botox and similar anti-wrinkle treatments, it's still difficult to find anyone who'll own up to having had it.

Doctors and dentists are the only people licensed to provide these injections in the Republic, and they say that women usually don't even tell their husbands they're getting it.

But bulletin boards on discussion websites such as rollercoaster.com are full of queries about Botox, suggesting there's a strong interest in the topic.

We surveyed prices for anti-wrinkle treatments and found they ranged from €120 to €350 to treat a single area of the face.

A single area means the sides of both eyes, the forehead or the frown line between the eyes, but if you get more than one area treated at a time, the price comes down substantially.

The treatment involves injecting tiny amounts of botulinum toxin into wrinkles to freeze the muscles and thus smooth the skin, and its effects last from four to six months – which means it's quite a pricey business if you keep having it.

However, dozens of consumers are travelling north of the Border each week to get anti-wrinkle treatments because of cheaper prices available there.

Elizabeth Filbin of the Hylagen Clinic in Newry said 85pc of their customers came from the South. "We had 27 people in yesterday for this and 18 of them were from the Republic," she said.

"We decided to take less of a profit on each treatment, but aim to get a bigger turnover and thankfully that's worked for us," she said.

In line with tighter regulations introduced in the UK last autumn, a doctor in the clinic now has to prescribe Botox or Azzalure for cosmetic use, but the injections can be carried out either by the doctor or trained nurses.

In the Republic, the regulations are stricter because only trained physicians – doctors or dentists – can inject wrinkle treatments.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said it had some investigations into the administration of these products by unauthorised persons, but can't comment while these are in progress.

Because Botox and other anti-wrinkle products are prescription drugs, they may not be advertised directly to the public, the IMB said.

It said it had received two reports of adverse reactions to the use of botulinum toxin, such as blurred vision and muscle weakness.

Irish Independent

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