With the UK cosmetic surgery industry estimated to be worth in excess of £1 billion annually, it seems as though the desire to maintain or regain our youth is still very much part of our national psyche despite (or perhaps because of) the continuing downturn in the economy.
Consider the report highlighted in the Mirror newspaper of the woman who spent a staggering £4,000 on non-surgical procedures prior to her 1 week £3,000 holiday to Dubai in August 2012; a desperate cry for attention or an example of someone who values her appearance and self worth? Perhaps she is merely one who knows that one of the keys to a happy life is confidence and feeling good about oneself.
For those who make the decision to explore the options available in the wide range of facial rejuvenation techniques currently on offer, just how easy is it to decide which is the right therapy? Which is most likely to boost self confidence and turn back the clock? It seems there's no easy answer, but it helps to consider the facts.
Originally discovered over 100 years ago as Botulinium toxin, a neurotoxic protein produced by the Clostridium Botulinium bacteria, it was not until the early 1990s that it became available for aesthetic use within the UK when it was discovered to produce beneficial effects on those suffering from muscle spasms. Its worldwide use has now reached staggering proportions with an estimated 2 billion units being administered annually in the US alone.
Used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with the application of an ultra fine needle into the facial muscles, the treatment is quick, (relatively!) painless and affordable, with costs starting from £150. However, the price of the injections will vary widely from provider to provider as they are based on the number of units of Botox used during the procedure.
Patients will begin to see the results of the treatment within 3-5 days and it is recommended that maintenance treatments are administered every 4-6 months.
First applied in 1952 by French born, Dr Michel Pistor, and described as "a technique of superficial injection of homeopathic or bioactive substances into the mid-lower layer of the dermis or sub-dermal fat", Eporex Mesotherapy, though widely adopted in Germany, France and Italy as part of mainstream medicine and complementary therapy, is still developing within the UK aesthetic sector.
The technique is less invasive than Botox and uses a combination of active ingredients including minerals and vitamins, co-enzymes and amino acids which are mixed with a conductive gel. This is then applied to the treatment site via electrical pulses through a process known as Isophoresis. The applied gel is absorbed through the pores into the dermal layer where it stimulates the synthesis of collagen leaving the skin refreshed and rejuvenated.
The Vitamin C Anti-ageing Facial is a particularly popular procedure which, when incorporated into the recommended course of 7 x 30 minute treatments and combined with a healthy eating plan, has been shown to make a real difference to the tone, elasticity and overall radiance of the skins appearance. Mesotherapy procedures start from £200 - £300 per session.
Dermal fillers are now widely used in the UK aesthetics sector as a facial rejuvenation treatment to help restore volume, elasticity and tone to the skin, while at the same time reducing the appearance of the fine lines and wrinkles which appear as part of the natural ageing process.
Although the way we age is primarily predetermined by our genetic make-up, environmental and lifestyle factors such as sun and wind damage, pollution, smoking and alcohol consumption will also have a bearing on the development of facial lines. Fillers use a non-animal derived hyaluronic acid which is injected under the skin with a very fine needle and is available in two adaptations; the first for volumising and contouring and the second for smoothing lines and wrinkles.
Areas for treatment will generally include the crow's feet around the eyes, the glabella, and the marionette lines between the nose and mouth. Fillers may also be used on the hands, neck and decolletage to volumise the skin and provide a more youthful appearance. Results from dermal fillers are longer lasting than with Botox, needing maintenance treatments only after 6-12 months.
Non-surgical microdermabrasion is an intense exfoliation treatment which uses a hand held wand to apply a fine jet of abrasive particles to the face, removing the layers of damaged and dead skin cells before clearing the debris with a vacuum action. This combination of techniques will not only stimulate the blood flow but promote the synthesis of elastin and collagen, leaving the skin feeling revitalised and toned and rejuvenating a dull and tired complexion. It can also be used to ease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and to reduce scarring left from acne or pigmentation defects. Results will be immediately apparent and a course of 6-8 treatments, 7-10 days apart are advised, following which a monthly maintenance procedure is recommended.
For those who may find the thought of Botox or fillers too invasive, microdermabrasion can offer a good alternative. Costs for treatment start from £95 each or £399 for a course of six; this will be wholly dependent on the provider.
The Obagi Blue Peel is a gentle, deep exfoliating treatment which has been created to help reverse the natural signs of ageing. Leaving the skin looking firmer, smoother and more youthful, this mild chemical peel will also help to repair the damage caused by sun and the environment.
Once applied to the skin, the peel will initially feel warm and will progressively heat up as the treatment proceeds. Some patients can find this alarming but it is perfectly normal - so don't panic! Results are noticeable almost immediately, although it may be advisable to book your procedure for when you have a few days 'down time' as the treatment will leave your skin with a blue tinge for 24 hours until it washes off completely. You will also begin to experience peeling of the skin within a few days which will soothe by the end of a week and some patients also experience light facial swelling.
The Obagi Blue Peel therapy is primarily used to improve the appearance of the skin by removing the damaged cells which can cause the skin to look tired and dull and is considered to be a less invasive alternative to Botox. It is advised to book a course of 4-6 treatments which start at costs from £550 - £750+.