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There's Botox, There's Fillers but Then There's the Miracle That is Sculptra: Read This!

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I learnt something today. Don't take that statement lightly because I am quite surprised that I learnt anything at all! I went along with my mother to the open evening in Harley Street of the 'hottest new doc on the block', Dr Andrew Douglas (www.andrewdouglas.md). Now, I may have mentioned before that as a salesperson by nature I am surprisingly easy to sell to. As Mr. Pregnant Citygirl puts it, I'll buy 'anything with bright colourful lights'; but on the flipside I am also very critical and look to find fault.

Today there is no end to the list of 'celebrity' aesthetic surgeons in London and after LA and New York I'm guessing we have our fair share in our metropolis. I myself have seen one or two - not for anything big and never botox (yet); also had my lips done a few times - everyone said I didn't need it and most said I looked better before. For me it's like a change of hairstyle or colour - except that I prefer not to cut my long blond hair! I've had filler in my cheeks once (apparently restores the youthful look as cheeks lose fullness as we age). I liked the look but didn't really notice once it had worn off; ditto with some other filler that I had 3 or 4 years ago along the nasolabial fold (lines between nose and mouth to you and me) which were hardly noticeable then or now!

I've also tried radio frequency: this involves heating up the lower layer of the skin so that it contracts and tightens. I didn't have a serious session so I didn't see much difference but, I feel this offers a lot of promise for the future. I've also had facial acupuncture which really works: by 'injuring' areas of the face with needles it causes a repairing and regenerating action which really seems to make the face appear more youthful.

So, as you can see I'm no stranger to the world of non-invasive anti-ageing. You could even say that I'm a sucker for it; but as I said, I can still take it or leave it at this point. I do not have an ongoing care regime, I just merely dabble at this point, with my last foray being the cheek filler in December 2010. Luckily for me I have inherited genes that keep me looking young. I have always looked young, as both my mother does and father did. I'm sure being petite also helps.

Anyway, enough about me and on to the evening. It was an introduction to Dr Douglas at his surgery. The surgery itself was open, modern but not overly-clinical and somehow inviting. A lot of these Harley Street offices can often feel old, stuffy, cavernous and musty so this was refreshingly good start. Dr Douglas's background is in maxillofacial surgery so this man is a real surgeon and one who knows and understands the intricate workings of the face and it's underlying muscles. He fixes patients who are disfigured and who have been in accidents and need facial reconstruction.  

Now, you would expect this sort of experience from any high-flying aesthetic surgeon but unfortunately this is certainly not the case. This is not to say that others don't get good results or aren't well- qualified, but they don't have the same approach. Some purport to be artists - which sounds very romantic but as Dr Douglas would and certainly did make clear, for him the goal is restoration. If for example, one has lines between the nose and the mouth as a result of ageing (some can be genetic he explained), these are caused by the face dropping and can be addressed by filling out the apple of the cheek to create a lifting effect, not by filling the line itself. So, he treats the cause rather than the effect. That, ladies and gentlemen, along with his background in maxillofacial surgery is what I believe to be his USP.

However, this isn't what I learnt. I'm coming on to that. Dr Douglas' main procedures are fillers, botox (or protox as he calls it - professional botox which focuses on softening harsh expressions not freezing peoples faces for pure anti-ageing effects), plus facial peels. Dr Douglas believes peels are great for certain things but explained that when someone needs a very deep or aggressive peel (the type that makes you shed you skin like a snake over the course of a week or two), recommends treating the problem with either a filler, botox or both. He also practices skin micro-needling which is a technique used for making products much more effective by puncturing the skin with lots of small needles in order to push the treatment serums in deeper. He says that he prefers to just stick with the face and neck and not to be a jack of all trades, but a master of one. Sensible.

He went through the many different fillers available and the differences between them. This mostly relates to viscosity, with the thicker ones used for larger areas when the filler needs to be more dynamic. Thinner fillers are used for smaller, softer lines. He also told us how he mixes his botox with bacteria stasis saline which makes it much less painful when injected with the tiny needles that he uses.

My main take-away from the evening - and something no doubt I will be going back to try - is that he also uses Sculptra. The miracle that is Sculptra (my words not his!) is a volumizing agent that is used a lot on the NHS. Unlike filler - which again just treats the effect not the cause - it temporarily fills and then disperses, stimulating the body to make its own collagen to fill out the area. Scupltra also last up to 2 years as opposed to the 6 months of other fillers. So, it actually triggers the creation of collagen and fills, without the area having to be artificially filled! I did not know anything like this existed! For those looking for something more natural - say, something akin to an injectable anti-wrinkle cream but that actually works-  then this is it. I am definitely sold.

So overall, the evening was very informative. The icing on the cake was a talk and demonstration from hairdresser Denis Robinson(www.denisrobinson.co.uk), a man who I'm also sold on. I am off there on the 3rd November for a hair makeover! I have never heard a hairdresser talk so informatively and sensibly on how to make hair look its best, as hair ages along with us and changes over time. Dentist, Nicola Di Vitale (www.harleystdentists.co.uk) -  another specialist who links in dental health with aesthetics and ageing - also made a presentation. I'm not worried about my teeth but if I were, I would have yet another appointment to put into the diary!

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