To reflect on the year is to acknowledge that this is Barbie’s world, and we are all just living in it. After all, it’s safe to say that buzz surrounding the American fashion doll reached its fever pitch in 2023, with the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie prompting a monumental sartorial renaissance in the form of Barbiecore. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, evidently—the movement soon spawned collaborations and partnerships that spanned across diverse categories including interiors and athletic gear, which only further hammered in the message: yes, you can live your life entirely in plastic. The beauty sphere was, naturally, not spared from this pastel pink takeover, though what’s surprising is that its influence extends beyond vivid washes of fuschia eyeshadow and rose blush overload. In fact, it was Barbie’s slim and elongated neck as well as contoured shoulders that made its mark, leading to the popularisation of one aesthetic treatment: Barbie Botox—or, Traptox.
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“Traptox, put simply, is a targeted neurotoxin injection to the upper trapezius,” clarifies Dr Shauna Tan, aesthetic doctor at The Covette Clinic. “It is done largely with the purpose of minimising tension as well as muscle bulk in the area.” Adopted by celebrities in the vein of Kim Kardashian and Lo Bosworth, the procedure has since blown up within our cultural sphere, with #traptox on TikTok accruing a staggering 36M views. And while the treatment is largely normalised by many beauty buffs and regarded as non-invasive, it does raise the question: is it as simple—and as harmless—as it sounds? Below, a full lowdown from a medical professional, detailing the risks, results, and requirements to know of before embarking on your Traptox journey.
What is Traptox, exactly?
It’s fair to assume that the procedure entails Botox injected in an individual’s shoulders. “Botox injections use a toxin called Onobotulinumtoxin A to temporarily prevent muscles from moving. This toxin is produced by the microbe that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning,” states Dr Tan. “It blocks the nerve signals to the muscle, which means that it cannot contract.” This, thus, leads to the reduction of size in the area, creating the illusion of a longer neck and slender shoulders.
How does the procedure work?
Much like a typical Botox treatment, it involves multiple injection points, with the toxin entering superficially into the muscle through the skin. Some level of discomfort is expected, though numbing cream will be applied to ease any kind of pain or aggravation.
Who is this treatment best suited for?
Anyone seeking the snatched shoulders and a contoured neck, though Dr Tan is also quick to point out that it is also suitable for folks struggling with neck ache as well as tense, tight shoulders.
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Are there any candidates that are not suited for this procedure?
“It’s a no-go for patients that are under 18, pregnant or nursing,” says Dr Tan. “I also would not recommend it for anyone already suffering from existing neuromuscular conditions, has pre-existing weakness of the trapezius muscle, and/or is allergic to components of Botox injectables.”
What are the risks of Traptox?
The biggest risk lies largely in the depleting of long-term strength as well as asymmetry. As said injections are designed to weaken the trapezius muscle, it could lead to a reduction of strength in the long-term. Diminishing the size of the muscle, after all, has a direct correlation to dampening its function as well. It should be noted, however, that this is only likely to occur should an individual undergo regular injections rather than a one-time attempt.
“There also lies the risk of asymmetry, when the neck and shoulder don’t appear proportionate,” elucidates Dr Tan. “Though this can be avoided if you go to a skilled professional to get your Traptox done.” She also warns against bruising and discomfort at the injection site, as well as a potential spreading of the effects of Botox to other muscles.
How long do the results last?
“You will experience reduced tension seven to 14 days from when you’ve undergone the injections, and will observe an improved contoured effect around four to six weeks after,” Dr Tan explains. “Its effects will last three to four months, typically. Do note that it is likely you will have to go for multiple sessions before achieving your desired results.”