OVER THE KNIFE

Non-sur­gi­cal break­throughs in anti-age­ing.

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

Sit­ting front row at the Paris cou­ture shows is an ex­tra­or­di­nary spec­ta­cle. firstly, the clothes: a fan­tasy of fem­i­nin­ity crafted with an al­most oth­er­worldly pre­ci­sion, be­yond price or rea­son . then, of course, the clients: again, a fan­tasy of fem­i­nin­ity crafted … You get the pic­ture. Noth­ing dis­plays the chang­ing face of beauty quite so lit­er­ally as a room­ful of the world’s rich­est women. Cos­metic surgery used to mean tak­ing a scalpel to the sag­ging skin, cut­ting and pulling to make the face smaller, tighter.you see those women here, the so-called ‘so­cial X-rays’ first iden­ti­fied by Tom Wolfe in the 1980s, for whom a facelift from the right sur­geon is still an im­por­tant sig­ni­fier of sta­tus. But then, in the mid-2000s, doc­tors started to un­der­stand that what makes us look older is a loss of vol­ume, and the way to re­verse that is to ac­tu­ally make the face fat­ter. this is where fillers came in: the full­ness of a youth­ful face, lib­er­ally in­jected into an age­ing one. Those women who have en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­braced what the beauty in­dus­try calls ‘vo­lu­mis­ing’ are also on the front row, with their peachy, plumped-up cheeks and plush lips (not to men­tion pneu­matic breasts) on oth­er­wise slen­der frames. There’s a clear aes­thetic shift vis­i­ble be­tween the dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions.

The cou­ture shows are an ex­treme ex­am­ple, but what you see there closely cor­re­lates with what’s hap­pen­ing in the in­dus­try at large. “Surgery is age­ing badly!” says Dr Jean-louis Se­bagh, per­haps Europe’s best-known cos­metic doc­tor. “When I started my ca­reer as a fa­cial plas­tic sur­geon three decades ago, deal­ing with the age­ing process was essen­tially lim­ited to facelifts — as in us­ing the knife — and mainly con­cerned pa­tients over the age of 50. Ad­vances since then have been amazing.”

De­vel­op­ments in sci­ence have re­sulted in a whole new arse­nal of aes­thetic weaponry: Bo­tox, col­la­gen in­jec­tions, hyaluronic-acid fillers, fat-trans­fer treat­ments, plasma and growth-fac­tor in­jec­tions, plus laser for pig­men­ta­tion, ra­dio fre­quency for tight­en­ing, red light for bright­en­ing and ul­tra­sound ther­apy to shorten fa­cial mus­cles, all de­lay­ing any need for in­va­sive work. Statis­tics back this up: the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Aes­thetic Plas­tic Sur­geons re­cently re­ported a 40 per cent drop in cos­metic surg­eries dur­ing 2016, the low­est level in al­most a decade. ac­cord­ing to Dr Michael Prager, widely re­garded as one of the best in the busi­ness when it comes to non-sur­gi­cal treat­ments, the rea­son for this “could re­ally be the fact that a lot of pa­tients started 15 to 20 years ago, pos­si­bly with Bo­tox and fillers, and they have not pro­gressed to surgery be­cause these things pre­vent age­ing more than is as­sumed. Be­fore, it was about rather crude and bulky in­jec­tions, but now the prod­ucts are more re­fined and our un­der­stand­ing of fa­cial age­ing is much more ad­vanced.” the rise of ‘no-knife surgery’ is a def­i­nite trend, says Dr Paul Charl­son, the pres­i­dent of the Bri­tish Col­lege of Aes­thetic Medicine.“there’s a greater in­ter­est among plas­tic sur­geons nowa­days in non-sur­gi­cal tech­niques — they don’t want to have to chop some­one up. there are some things that you can’t achieve with aes­thetic medicine — lift­ing jowls, for ex­am­ple, and fix­ing those lines around the side of the mouth — but it’s ex­tra­or­di­nary what you can do for ev­ery­thing else.”

“Vol­ume re­place­ment is what has re­ally changed in the last few years,” says Dr Frances Prenna Jones, whose dis­creet clinic is in the black book of most beauty edi­tors. “Peo­ple used to say, ‘I am not hav­ing filler, there’s no way.’ Now they un­der­stand what it re­ally means — that you don’t have to have puffed-up lips or puffed-up cheek­bones.” As new prod­ucts are re­leased onto the mar­ket, the best cos­metic doc­tors have de­vel­oped a kind of be­spoke facelift that uses in­jec­tions of hyaluronic acid to re­store sym­me­try and pro­por­tion, re­shap­ing the jaw­line and ‘rais­ing’ the cheek­bones. this is usu­ally com­bined with a lit­tle Bo­tox, plus a cock­tail of laser treat­ments that work to im­prove tone, tex­ture and elas­tic­ity.you have to trust the doc­tor here, ob­vi­ously: the most skilled will do the kind of sub­tle re­fine­ments that don’t make you look younger, ex­actly — the pur­suit of youth is al­ways doomed to dis­sat­is­fac­tion when it comes to beauty — but more like the ver­sion of your­self you see in the mir­ror af­ter two weeks’ hol­i­day and about 12 hours of sleep.

Of course, if you em­brace these cos­metic pro­ce­dures, it takes com­mit­ment. It takes time, money and en­ergy. It takes what med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers call ‘proac­tive main­te­nance’, which means reg­u­lar up­keep, some­times ev­ery few months. It also takes self-aware­ness to know when to stop. that can be the trouble with this stuff: it comes down to judge­ment and taste. we’ve all seen the over­filled celebrity face — not younger, just ‘done’. what looks flaw­less on In­sta­gram doesn’t al­ways trans­late to real life.who can recog­nise the point

The de­mand for con­ven­tional plas­tic surgery is fall­ing as more of us opt for non-in­va­sive pro­ce­dures to achieve nat­u­ral-look­ing re­sults. By AVRIL MAIR

when enough is enough, when what con­sti­tutes ‘too much’ is an en­tirely sub­jec­tive mat­ter? “A lot of pa­tients are para­noid that peo­ple will think they have had work [done],” Charl­son says.“part of what I do now is avoid­ing that.the truth is that most women want to look fresher, rather than dif­fer­ent; prob­a­bly over 90 per cent don’t ac­tu­ally want to ap­pear al­tered. We can make you look bet­ter, not odd.” As Prenna Jones says, “The big­gest com­pli­ment for me is when pa­tients say that their friends com­ment on how well they look — and yet they have no idea that they’ve had any treat­ments.”

There is still some­thing that stops us be­ing hon­est about the things we do to our­selves in the name of self-im­prove­ment — even though more of us are do­ing it than ever.ac­tors and models like to keep it secret, to look an in­ter­viewer right in the eye and de­mur at the sug­ges­tion, con­fess­ing to hav­ing tried some­thing or other once, but never again. Maybe when the time is right, they mutter, talk­ing of their love for a cer­tain cos­metic doc­tor’s skin cream but noth­ing else, oh no. For the sake of sis­ter­hood, I’ll be more up­front: as a for­mer beauty colum­nist, I’ve tried count­less pro­ce­dures, from the weird to the won­der­ful via the undig­ni­fied and ex­cru­ci­at­ing; from the truly life-chang­ing to things that defy both com­mon sense and med­i­cal cred­i­bil­ity. Bo­tox, Resty­lane, Per­lane, Ju­vé­derm, Sculp­tra, mesother­apy, platelet-rich plasma ther­apy, in­tense-pulsed-light treat­ment, chem­i­cal peels, laser li­po­suc­tion, breast in­jec­tions, lip im­plants … you name it, I’ve tried it. And what I learnt is this: per­spec­tive is ev­ery­thing. Go­ing into any kind of aes­thetic or cos­metic surgery think­ing you will turn into some­one else — some­one younger — will only lead to dis­ap­point­ment.yes, you can find im­prove­ment. But at the end of the day, you’re only ever a new ver­sion of the old you.

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