The Snake Oil Alternative to Surgery – Are You About to Bite?

There’s no doubt that Britain is a nation obsessed with looks. The 40,000 plus cosmetic surgery figures for 2011 make that abundantly clear. But with the price of perky boobs being in the region of £10,000 and the NHS reportedly spending £500,000 correcting botched operations, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

So what’s the alternative? Fortunately, for men and women across the globe, there are literally thousands of healthcare products on the market today that claim to not only be good substitutes for surgery, but also to have similar effects. But do these ‘snake oil’ concoctions live up to their promises? Are there really miracle cures for bingo wings and crows feet? Let’s take a look.

Weight Loss Pills

What they Claim: There are really three kinds of weight loss pill available; ‘metabolism boosters’, ‘fat blockers’ and ‘craving preventers’. What they all have in common is that they promise to make weight loss quick and easy by using natural ingredients to burn fat faster, reduce fat absorption and make you feel fuller for longer.

Metabolism boosters contain chromium which ostensibly helps to break down fat in the body. Fat blockers reduce the amount of fat that’s absorbed from food, while craving preventers usually contain a seaweed product that swells the stomach, banishing those pesky hunger pangs.

What they Cost: According to a recent study, 52% of British women are reluctant to have sex because they feel too fat. So you really can’t put a price on confidence. Then again, one month’s supply of these fat burning pills can cost up to £50, or £600 per year.

What’s the Problem?: Studies have found absolutely no effect of chromium supplements on metabolism. Fat blockers also prevent the absorption of essential nutrients such as protein and ‘good’ fats, and seaweed based pills have been found to cause painful abdominal cramps and even leaky diarrhoea! Would this improve a woman’s confidence? Or, indeed, her sex life? Really?

Weight loss isn’t an art, it’s a science. To lose weight, more calories need to be expended than consumed. There are two ways to do this; eat less or exercise more. The UK’s best selling slimming pill company are quick to point out that their supplements work in conjunction with a “calorie controlled diet with exercise”, making them appear entirely surplus to requirements.

‘Botox’ Creams

What they Claim: Botox is one of the most common ‘lunchtime’ cosmetic procedures, and even celebrities are admitting they’re beating the ageing process with the help of the quick injection that freezes facial muscles and prevents wrinkles. The antioxidant creams claim to boost circulation and relax muscles, leading many to dub the creams ‘fauxtox’.

The word ‘collagen’ is thrown around quite a lot in relation to anti-ageing face creams. Collagen is what supports the structure of the face, preventing sagging, so it’s only natural that this is a big selling point of many creams. The collagen filled lotions applied to the skin help to increase collagen production, keeping everything wrinkle free.

What they Cost: What’s the price of everlasting youth? A lot! One of the leading brands on sale in the UK, nicknamed ‘Botox in a jar’ sells for £40 per 10ml. 10ml is roughly equal to about two teaspoons. In terms of normal face cream usage, that would be a 4 day supply. And that’s just the ‘instant wrinkle treatment’. For best results, use with the £40 cleanser, the £65 moisturiser and the £70 eye serum.

What’s the Problem?: Anti-wrinkle creams have been described as the biggest con in the beauty industry. The facial muscles are, thankfully, internal (the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about!) and that’s why Botox works so well. It targets the problem internally. If a spring broke in your sofa, would you fix the internal spring, or just place a new spring on top of the cushion and cross your fingers? Exactly. Putting collagen onto the skin is not going to affect collagen under the skin.

Breast Firming Lotions

What they Claim: No one wants saggy boobs, but unfortunately ageing and childbirth can wreak havoc on the chest region, causing things that once were firm and pert to look a little sad and droopy. The lotions claim to be able to tone the chest and increase the tightness of the breasts, so that those girls stay plump and perky all day long.

Not only that, but there are even products on the market that actually promise to make boobs bigger! By encouraging more fat distribution to the breasts, some creams boast they can boost natural boobs by up to a cup size!

What they Cost: While gentle firming creams can cost as little as £5 from the local supermarket, expect to fork out hundreds for one of the miracle ‘boob job in a bottle’ lotions. And, of course, there’s a whole range of brands in between.

What’s the Problem?: As with the ‘fauxtox’ creams, topical treatments aren’t going to make the slightest bit of difference to internal breast tissue, which is what’s needed to make the breasts appear firmer. Even if the creams firmed the skin itself, if the breast tissue is loose underneath, it’s still going to be a problem – and it’s still going to show.

Creams that contain hormones to enhance breast size (which is what happens during pregnancy) simply do not contain high enough levels to work in the way they promise. It is interesting to note that in spite of creams claiming huge success rates among consumers, absolutely none of the natural treatments on the market today have any scientific backing.

Too Good To Be True?

There is one very big and very obvious sign that these fad and expensive scams don’t work, which many companies seem to think the average consumer will overlook (and, sadly, many do!) That is, if these £40, £50, £100 treatments actually do work, why are expensive and risky cosmetic surgeries continuing to rise?

In the beauty world, there are no miracle cures. Sure, there are plenty of ways to keep skin looking and feeling healthy, but anything that promises to reverse ageing or turn 60 year old wrinkly breasts into those perky 20 year old boobs on advertisements is more likely than not writing a cheque it can’t cash. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Ed Roberts-Beardsell

Edward Roberts-Beardsell is the Publishing Manager for Clinic Compare, a unique online match-making service designed to put people in touch with the most suitable clinic for their cosmetic surgery treatment needs. He is passionate about providing impartial, informative and helpful news, advice and insights in to all aspects of cosmetic surgery.

2 thoughts on “The Snake Oil Alternative to Surgery – Are You About to Bite?

  • September 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I find it amusing that you suggest this Gentleman is providing impartial anything. How can all supplements and all creams and lotions be lumped into one catagory? That would be like all Media people are idiots, while it’s true for most I don’t think it applies to all of them!!!

  • September 4, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I think that it’s still in the best interest of a person if she will ask a plastic surgeon about this stuff. There are countless beauty products available this days so if you wan to be safe, you should ask your plastic surgeon so that you will have a clear and holistic picture of the pros and cons of the products that you are using onto your face and body. After all, prevention is still better than cure.


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