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Boytox: Botox for Men

Rating

3 Star

Boytox: Botox for Men

Our Review Summary

This snarky, smarmy [smarky?] essay in Time magazine is just a goof, an apropos-of-nothing first-person indulgence in the topic of male use of Botox. It’s not a serious piece of health journalism. It’s pure infotainment, with more "tainment" than info. 

Still, it’s an instructive exercise to see how something like this holds up to HealthNewsReview.org criteria. The answer, as illustrated by the grades below: Not so much. 

To belabor the obvious only briefly: There’s nothing here to prove that Botox works, that it’s safe or even that the statistics cited about use by males are accurate. It doesn’t mention that there are some legitimate medical uses for Botox, including excessive sweating and migraine headaches.

All sources in the story are friendly to the practice, ludicrously so. The story explores the Botox phenomenon in a context where it makes the juiciest, easiest comic target, Los Angeles.

And speaking of juicy targets, it has annoying sport with the "fact" that many male users of Botox are gay. But it’s a benign enough reference that it’s unlikely to do much harm beyond making the author look like a jerk. 

The question is this: At a time when space in print publications is so precious–and Time Inc. is struggling to sustain its flagship magazine–whether this is a good use of time and talent. The story is kind of amusing, some [strained] comic relief in a newsmagazine otherwise full of stress and gloom. Maybe that’s a good, or at least understandable, editorial decision.

The story probably won’t lead any reader to do anything stupid or dangerous. 

That’s a pretty low bar to pass over, but there it is.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story states that Botox treatment costs $500 to $600 per "session" when provided by one Palm Springs-based, housecall-making doctor.

The cost of Botox varies geographically, and the terms "injection," "treatment" and "session" mean different thing to different practitioners. Actual price paid to get a certain result can vary widely. The article should at least have implied this. 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The article assumes Botox reduces the appearances of wrinkles. But it provides no data to verify this.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the potential harms of Botox treatment, which include a droopy eyelid, muscle weakness, headache, headache, respiratory infection, flu-like symtoms and redness and pain at the injection sites. 

The risk of these side effects may be reduced if the treatment is provided by a licensed dermatologist. This should have been stated. 

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The article does not cite any evidence about the safety or effectiveness of Botox treatments.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not imply that Botox treatments for wrinkles treats any disease, and it doesn’t make the procedure appear necessary. 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story cites statistics showing increased use among males, but cites no source.

The reporter interviewed one enthusiastic practitioner who services Hollywood stars, an enthusiastic paid celebrity spokesman, one enthusiastic patient and his even more enthusiastic wife.

No dissenting voice, even a comic one, is included. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

Well, the story does mention that an alternative to Botox, a product called Reloxin, may be approved by the FDA soon.

The story implies that getting no treatment for wrinkles is a reasonable alternative. 

It would have been useful, however, to hear about other cosmetic treatments–fillers, laser treatments, creams, and so on–that are used on wrinkles, whether they are shown to "work" or not. 

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story implies, correctly, that Botox injections are widely available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story makes no false claims for the novelty of Botox treatments for wrinkles.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There does not appear to be a press release related to this story.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory

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