A man receiving botox is the new aesthetics boom, Thrive E Magazine, Issue 7, Health and Wellness Magazine

The losses, upheavals, restrictions and comprehensive lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic have resulted in an unexpected outcome – a surge in demand for cosmetic medical treatments.

Flying in the face of a sharp downturn in many industries and businesses since the COVID crisis, a surprising new trend has emerged. 

Over the past year, Australians have been flocking to receive non-surgical cosmetic medical treatments such as Botulinum toxin (anti-wrinkle) and dermal filler injections – the most sought-after procedures – laser skin resurfacing,  intense pulsed light (IPL), non-invasive body contouring and general laser treatments to enhance their appearance.

The Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia (CPCA) – the leading representative body for medical practitioners practising non- or minimally-invasive cosmetic medical treatments in Australasia – recently conducted a member survey that showed an unprecedented surge in clinics seeing new patients seeking these procedures in the last 12 months.

According to the survey, there has been a massive 41.5 percent increase in new patients who have never previously had aesthetic treatments.

According to the CPCA survey, there has been a massive 41.5 percent increase in new patients who have never previously had aesthetic treatments.

The survey attributes the top three key drivers as: 

  1. An inability to travel, leading to more disposable income
  2. More time available due to working from home 
  3. A general dissatisfaction with one’s appearance after staring at it for collective hours on video calls such as Zoom (also known as the Zoom Boom effect)

Other factors include social media influences and a general desire to improve appearance.

While, individually, our College’s members have noticed an increase in new patients requesting non-surgical aesthetic treatments, we had no idea that collectively this figure would be so high,” says CPCA President Dr Michael Molton, Principal Cosmetic Medical Doctor/Senior Medical Officer at Adelaide’s Epiclinic.

I personally have seen new patients facing unemployment who are applying for new jobs and getting back into the workforce, seeking these treatments. 

The great thing is that while these procedures enhance someone’s aesthetic appearance, they also contribute significantly to their psychological wellbeing.”

“It’s also wonderful to see the message getting through that these procedures are cosmetic medical procedures and should be performed by trained and experienced health practitioners.”

The CPCA provides education, training and ethical practice standards for its Fellows and Members, who are required to have relevant training and experience as prerequisites for admission to the College. 

Members are required to keep abreast of the most up-to-date, relevant information and latest medical and scientific advances. Overall, the key role of the CPCA is to develop and maintain the highest standards in cosmetic medicine.

Dr Micheal Molton

“With a level of uncertainty still lingering, whether it be financial or health concerns due to COVID-19 and potential lockdowns, there seems to be an ever-increasing shift towards non-invasive procedures, which are considered lower-risk than invasive surgery,” says Dr Molton.

“These procedures offer a wide array of aesthetic enhancement benefits that are effective, time efficient, with little to no downtime and achieve great results that are almost instantaneous.

“Travel restrictions have also resulted in many people reinvesting this money in themselves. Many of our patients have decided that money spent on self-care is money well spent.

The inability to travel has meant more time and more funds for patients to invest in treatments – and let’s face it, looking good is synonymous with feeling good.



A woman receiving botox is the new aesthetics boom, Thrive E Magazine, Issue 7, Health and Wellness Magazine

Of the doctors who responded to the survey, 65 percent have found that patients are more frequently requesting multiple treatments per visit.

An overwhelming 75 percent of patients are requesting a combination of anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers in the one treatment, with the next most common combinations being Botulinum toxin/dermal filler and Botulinum toxin/threads (each 8 percent), Botulinum toxin/body contouring and skin resurfacing/threads (each 4 percent).


Botulinum toxin is an injectable muscle relaxant, commonly used to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the surface of the skin by relaxing muscles beneath, for instance across the forehead, between the brows or “crows feet” around the eyes. 

Dermal fillers are a gel-based treatment injected into the skin. The gel imitates a naturally occurring substance within the body – hyaluronic acid (HA), a sugar molecule that exists naturally in almost all living organisms. 

Threads (aka thread lift). Instead of removing a patient’s loose facial skin surgically, a cosmetic surgeon places temporary sutures (threads) under the skin to “stitch up” portions of it to produce a subtle but visible “lift” in the face. 

Non-invasive body contouring is an umbrella term for fat dissolving and skin-tightening procedures that involve the use of devices that harness various types of energies, such as ultrasound, radiofrequency or cryolipolysis (aka “fat freezing”), to achieve a shapelier, more toned-looking body in multiple sessions. Many people choose these over surgical procedures such as liposuction as they are minimally invasive and have minimal downtime.

Skin resurfacing involving laser is designed to reduce facial lines and wrinkles and skin irregularities, such age spots, scars, acne scars, sagging skin, uneven skin tone, enlarged oil glands and warts. This technique directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a type of light therapy used to minimise or remove age spots, sun damage, freckles, birthmarks, varicose veins, broken blood vessels on the face, rosacea and hair on the face, neck, back, chest, legs, underarms, or bikini line. IPL is similar to a laser treatment. However, a laser focuses just one wavelength of light at the  skin, while IPL releases light of many different wavelengths, like a photo flash.


Darkside of a fairytale, Thrive E-magazine Issue 7, Health and Wellness Magazine

Princess Mary’s best friend and bridesmaid seemed to have it all. Just goes to show the veneer is just that.

She was the fairytale bridesmaid, supporting her best friend as she married a European crown prince, in a ceremony watched by millions around the globe.

Amber Petty’s life from the outside looked magical indeed: she was variously an executive at Mushroom Records, had “dream” jobs in magazines, was a contestant on Celebrity Survivor Australia, and a co-host of a breakfast radio show in Adelaide. 

And then of course there was That royal wedding in 2004, when Tasmanian Mary Donaldson became Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, wife of the future King, Frederik.  

However, behind the scenes Amber’s life was tumultuous.

Magazine colleagues tried to use her for “Mary gossip” to write salacious stories. Her love life fell apart so dramatically that she found herself fearing for her life (more than once), and the toxic pressures of life working in commercial breakfast radio became unbearable.

The icing on the proverbial cake came via a “gotcha call” set up by her radio co-host. 

At that point, Amber was forced to put herself under the microscope to find out why she kept attracting so many smiling assassins. And, perhaps – more importantly – why she’d allowed them to stay.

She began a decade of inner work and soul searching, her discoveries from which are gems peppered throughout her first book, This is not a Love Song, with the aim of helping those who have found themselves in similar situations.

“I know of so many people stuck in a mental and spiritual crisis, with trauma repeating in their lives, unable to break the cycle,” she says.

“I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve been able to learn some valuable lessons that I hope others might benefit from.”

Following are extracts from This is Not a Love Song.


In the early 2000s, Amber’s best friend, Mary Donaldson, left Australia to pursue her relationship with heir to the Danish throne Prince Frederik, who she’d met during the Sydney Olympics:

Things between Mary and her new Danish man progressed slowly yet steadily over the next 12 months. The long-distance courtship continued, with Frederik making trips back to Australia to spend time with her. 

There was no reference point for me to get my head around how life might look like if Mary and Frederik went the distance. Well, there was, but I found it too scary to think about. All I had was my intuition that he, a man from a very different world, appeared sincere and that their connection was growing at a natural pace.

A year or so later Mary decided to leave for Paris. It made perfect sense. She and Frederik needed more time to be in each other’s company. With the media in Australia on high alert it was no longer feasible to meet in Sydney. Nor was it in Copenhagen. Paris was the perfect (and romantic) stepping stone.

Mary smiled sweetly, tenderly, like a mother being gentle with her child. She knew I meant it – it was my way of saying I was struggling. And I was. I truly was.

The night before Mary flew out, we organised farewell drinks at one of her favourite pubs in Woollahra – a small gathering of her closest friends. The two of us made a pact to leave together so we could say goodbye privately. I’m not going to lie, I bloody hated that party, but I did my best to put on a brave face. 

The truth was I was happy she’d found love, she deserved it.

At the end of the night we made our excuses and headed off. There was a lot of hugging and well wishes, with a few friends promising to look after me (the child), while she was gone. 

I felt dumb and sulky standing among everyone clinking Coronas and chardonnays, bidding final farewells, while Jamiroquai’s Space Cowboy played way too loudly. Heading towards Oxford Street, it felt somehow surreal. And unbelievably sad.


This comes from a chapter called Playing in the Dark, when Amber was hosting the SAFM breakfast show in Adelaide with Dave “Rabbit” Rabbetts. At the time, Amber was in a relationship with a man named Travis (not his real name) whom she met while filming Celebrity Survivor in 2006.

Over nearly six months of living there, the pool water kept mysteriously turning Kermit green – no matter what I did or how many times I called the local pool guy to blitz it with chemicals.  

Darkside of a fairytale, Thrive E-magazine Issue 7, Health and Wellness Magazine

I saw photos of a young blonde on his phone which he insisted were taken between cameras rolling on a locally made TV show he was working on. 

There were photos of a woman naked from the waist down, asleep on a couch, apparently sent to him by a “d**khead mate”. And still I let him stay. Even worse, I continued to share a bed with him.

I thought by trusting Travis when we came to Adelaide I had a chance to be proven wrong. I tried to convince myself that somehow I was more in control now I had a job and a house with my name on the lease. But I was kidding myself. All I was doing was enabling both of us. 

Fears of humiliation buzzed like a fly around my head every single day.

Finally, after another call to the police and Travis taking off to stay “at a mate’s house”, I decided I needed help. I didn’t know what his limits were anymore. 

I chose the Big Radio Boss to tell my secret to because, while he was the person I wanted to impress more than anyone, I also knew he was tough and I needed someone to be alert on my behalf. To know if something happened to me that he would be aware. He could testify. He could get justice for my family.

I made one more bad decision before calling it a day with Travis. A month after my hotel stint, in which time Travis had gone to stay with a “mate” after I made it clear I was sharing the truth about us to my boss, I allowed him back home. His tears and pleading and begging for one last try had worn me down. It wasn’t long before we were up to our old tricks.

I came home early from work one Friday to find Travis’s computer open and still on. It was sitting near the front door recharging. I couldn’t help myself. I refreshed his screen, revealing the last website he’d been on. It appeared to be a dating site – a nasty one called Red Hot Pie.

As I waded through the long list of relationship items most women wouldn’t have put up with, I chose Red Hot Pie to be most outraged about. When I confronted Travis, we ended up in a Once Were Warriors style clash. He punched me hard in the stomach with a clenched fist.

One second I was standing, feeling his spit on my face as he screamed “You f***ing crazy b*tch, stay away from my things”. The next I’m in the foetal position gasping for air, terrified it was never going to come.

Travis didn’t come for me again that day and I think I went into shock over what had happened. A functioning shock where I could still show up for work and be playful and fun – but I was a shell. I didn’t know how to process so I stayed quiet for a week or so. I didn’t even know how to tell him to get out of my house. I didn’t know who I was dealing with. I didn’t know people like him. But yet, here I was.

The months that followed felt like the calm after a terrible storm. Once I left the station for the day, I’d spend most of my time alone. In silence.

Soon the loneliness was replaced with something more urgent, more aggressive. At night I would lie in bed thrashing back and forth like an addict going cold turkey.

My anxiety was so bad I could hardly breathe. I would claw at my bed sheets and pillows, wanting to rip them apart. It was like I was trying to get outside of myself or away from myself. Away from the feeling I didn’t understand. I hated the world and I hated that I couldn’t find any joy. I couldn’t hold any sort of gratitude.

I chose to get professional help to find out if what I was feeling was depression. The thing was I knew, on my dad’s side, mental illness (and suicide) was a thing. A very real thing. It’s how he lost his mother. It’s how she lost her father. So maybe, I thought, there was a chance, this might just be my time.

I made an appointment to see a GP with the sole mission of admitting I was scared. I was dreading the appointment. 

“What can I help you with today?’” the doctor asked once I’d sat down. Suddenly I felt like someone had just turned the MCG lights on in my head, like I’d look up and see a packed crowd in the grandstands staring down, waiting for my reply. 

He wanted me to know he’d been going to a :healing energy centre” and suggested I look into it. “I think you’ll like it. It’s spiritual, like you.”

This side of him was what had made me fall in something with him back in Vanuatu. Reading his text, I remembered what it was about the two of us, once upon a time before hell.

Darkside of a fairytale, Thrive E-magazine Issue 7, Health and Wellness Magazine

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the healing centre. All I knew was one door had shut and I needed to open another – fast. It wasn’t a case of hoping to bide my time so I could ride through my rough patch and feel good again. I couldn’t remember when I’d genuinely felt good but if you’d asked me when I started feeling worse it began when I left Julian, shutting the door on pain and running. Back when I was 27.

It was time to take back my power. Although it would not come without a fight.

This is Not a Love Song by Amber Petty is available from Booktopia, all good bookstores and www.amberpetty.com.au.