I’m now in my Fifties and like most women my age, have read and heard about various beauty treatments like Botox and fillers. Everyone seems to know someone who’s had it done, but nobody ever admits to it. And a lot of people are wary of tampering with what Nature gave us – the media photos of Debbie Harry, Lesley Ash, Donatella Versace et al are very effective warnings to the curious. I also heard that once you start having Botox and/or fillers; you have no choice but to keep doing it because once you stop, your face, well – collapses in some kind of catastrophic avalanche of bloodhound eyes and flabby jowls.
On researching Botox, I read on medical websites that injections with botulinum toxin are generally well tolerated and side effects are few, BUT a precise knowledge and understanding of the functional anatomy of the mimetic muscles is absolutely necessary to correctly use botulinum toxins in clinical practice. I was reassured that my treatment was to be carried out by Dr Carole McAlister of Dermalis, a qualified GP with more than 10 years experience who has a facial aesthetics clinic in Glasgow. I suddenly became quite excited about the potential to get rid of -or at least reduce – my wrinkles. Where to start?
That evening I scrutinise my face in the bathroom mirror. I can’t expect to rectify everything I want to, I have to choose what are the most pressing concerns. I plump for the eye lines and what are apparently called “marionette” lines either side of the mouth. A razor-sharp jawline like I once had, a la Keira Knightley, would be fab, but I don’t think very likely.
The prices of the various treatments are listed on Dr McAlister’s website, which is refreshingly honest. Normally you have to book a consultation and then find out the cost. I was expecting it to be in four figures but I was surprised – three areas of Botox would cost £250 and Lip fillers £275.
When I met Dr McAlister for the consultation, she explained that only doctors, nurses and dentists with clinical qualifications can get the insurances necessary to practice facial aesthetics. She was amused by my fears about a collapsing face, saying that once you stopped having Botox, your face would simply go back to looking like it did before the treatments started.
Dr McAlister’s aim is to ensure her clients have a completely natural, realistic look. It isn’t supposed to look immediately obvious that work has been done. Dr McAlister said she never agrees to clients’ demands if she feels their looks will be compromised and “plastic”. “It is easy to get obsessed with facial enhancements, ” she said. “Once people see an improvement, some get on a mission to eradicate each and every line and wrinkle; but that is unrealistic. If you’re in your Fifties, it is natural and expected to have some lines and wrinkles. Eradicating every single one will only mean you end up looking waxen-faced, plastic and unable to move your facial features naturally anymore. That is not what I am about.”
The amount of Botox and dermal filler administered varies from person to person, but Dr McAlister said the treatments last three to six months. Almost all her clients attend every six months.
“Ten years ago facial aesthetics was all about just filling lines”, she said. “Now we know that the face ages because of losing volume in the fat pads, so the way to combat this is to restore the volume in the fat pads”. The most common place to lose volume is around the cheekbones, which results is jowls, marionette lines and nasolabial lines; which is what has happened to me. Increasing the fat pad of the cheek lifts the face so that those lines are vastly diminished.
After studying my face closely, Dr McAlister decides I don’t need any Botox. It’s primarily for forehead/frown lines and excessive “crow’s feet”, which luckily I don’t have. My needs would be best addressed by dermal fillers, which is hyaluronic acid, a gel-like water-holding molecule that is the space filler and cushioning agent in all mammals. Decreasing levels of hyaluronic acid are known to accompany the ageing process – by the time we reach our mid-forties, the synthesis of hyaluronic acid is roughly half that required by the body. Almost half of the body’s hyaluronic acid is located in the collagen of skin.
I need to have fillers for the deep line at the corners of my eyes; the nasolabial and marionette lines. In the future I would benefit from cheek filler, which would lift the jawline and improve the nasolabial and marionette lines further.
Dr Morley uses a dermal filler which contains anaesthetic; I ask for an anaesthetic gel also to be applied to the sites that are going to be injected – I am a turbo-wimp with needles. I get on the comfy couch overlooking the beautiful garden and have the anaesthetic gel applied.
The nasolabial area was done first and it did hurt, but actually no more than any injection. If the anaesthetic had been left on longer it would have been fine. It’s that it’s going into your face, not your arm, which is disconcerting. By the time my eyes are done though I can feel nothing; the whole process takes about an hour. A little filler is injected just under the skin and then is massaged, a bit like forming clay, to fill out the area of the line and eradicate any “ridges”.
When I get to look in the mirror my immediate reaction was “wow” – the eye lines had practically disappeared and the lines around my nose and mouth had diminished noticeably. Dr Morley said the full results could be seen two weeks later, when I am asked to return for a check-up and top-up if necessary. I can expect some bruising and redness around the needle sites, and am given three tubes of aftercare cream to apply morning and night.
I return to work and feel like I have been to the dentist, my face feels numb in places and a little stiff to move. I go to the hairdresser after work and immediately the staff say I am looking good; I tell them what I have had done and both clients and staff are fascinated, they want to know every detail. On getting home my husband and daughter notice straight away; both remarking I look younger, bright eyed and very well. I take a couple of ibuprofen tablets because I am feeling a little sore from the needles, but sleep fine and am pleased the following morning when there are no bruises, just little red marks around my eyes and corners of my mouth, which I cover up with concealer. The day after that the red marks are hardly noticeable any more. My friends say I am looking glowing, and listen rapt with attention when I explain what I have had done. I feel more confident and happy with my appearance – it’s me that notices every line and flaw on my face, nobody gets that close up to see the imperfections that I see, so there is a psychological effect too since I know the lines are diminished.
For further information contact Dr Carole McAlister ; email: firstname.lastname@example.org – www.dermalis.co.uk