Lip PlumpersThe treatment: A series of tiny injections are given in and around the lips. Hyaluronic acid is the most commonly used filler, as it’s a naturally occurring substance in the skin’s structure and can hold up to 1000 times its mass in water.
The results: "You can either add extra volume, or redefine, smooth fine lines and replace what you’ve lost with age," explains Katrina Bonham, a registered nurse at the Melbourne Collagen Foundation, where our trial treatments were performed. Also, if you don’t like the results, it can be easily reversed by injecting another product to dissolve the filler.
The risks: Bruising and swelling are the main short-term side effects and can take up to a week to subside.
The pain: "We anaesthetise the mouth with a dental block, so you shouldn’t feel anything [during the treatment]," says Bonham. The down time: On average, one to two days, but longer if you bruise. Your lips will feel firm at first, but more natural after a week.
The bottom line: Expect to pay between $330 and $700 every six months.Trial 1
Before: "I have lines above my lips, so I’ve been thinking about having lip plumping done for a while. I’m very scared it’s going to look too obvious, though," confesses Bianca, 39.
Expert advice: Bonham used Esthélis from Mondeal Aesthetics, a filler that offers a very natural, soft result. It was injected around the outside of Bianca’s mouth to treat fine lines and add definition.
After: "[My lips] were quite swollen for a few days and I had a bruise about the size of a 20c piece above my lip," says Bianca. "However, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my lip lines and would definitely have it again, but only when I had a window of four days to recover without seeing anyone."Trial 2
Before: "I’ve always been self-conscious of my narrow lips and stayed away from bright shades of lipstick," explains Eleanor, 33. As for the result she’d like to achieve? "Natural volume – I really don’t want a big trout pout!" she insists.
Expert advice: To create a conservative effect, Bonham recommended a small amount of Esthélis be injected into Eleanor’s lips.
After: "It looks really good. The shape hasn’t changed, but they just look fuller," enthuses Eleanor on the way to a business appointment immediately following her treatment. "I was surprised that it took only 25 minutes, and it feels like I’ve just been to the dentist."
This treatment was performed at Melbourne Collagen Foundation. Call (03) 9654 6365.
Muscle RelaxantsThe treatment: When used cosmetically, an injectable muscle relaxant, such as Botox, can help to smooth the appearance of lines. It’s most commonly used in the forehead, the furrow of the brow, and around the eyes and mouth.
The Results: "We see two groups of people: those that come in two weeks before a big event; or the regulars who visit every four to six months, not only to look good, but to prevent future lines forming," reveals Dr Neal Hamilton of Concept Cosmetic Medicine in Drummoyne, Sydney.
The risks: A thorough consultation with a medical practitioner is vital to avoid other facial muscles from becoming overused and creating new, unwanted lines or raised eyebrows (referred to as “Spock brows).
The pain: "For most people, the needles don’t hurt, but it’s the sting of the Botox that gives them the bite for about three seconds," explains Dr Hamilton.
The down time: None, but it will take up to a week to see the effect.
The bottom line: It will cost from $300 to $1000 every three to six months.Trial 1
Before: "I’m petrified of needles. I tried to have Botox once before and I couldn’t go through with it," confides Liz, 47, who hopes the treatment will soften a deep line across her forehead. Expert advice: Liz’s forehead was numbed with anaesthetic cream and she was also given Penthrox, an acute pain reliever, to aid her anxiety. Full doses of Botox were injected between her brows, and quarter doses along her hairline and forehead. Two weeks later, injections were given for minor corrections in the previously treated area, as well as around her eyes.
After: "It’s quick, but it still hurt. I couldn’t do it without the sedation," admits Liz. "The result has exceeded my expectations, though, and people keep telling me I look fabulous. I thought with Botox you’d have a frozen face, and I don’t. I’d continue to have it on an ongoing basis."Trial 2
Before: "Five years ago, I would never have thought that I would try something like this, but curiosity has got the better of me," explains Margie, 34. "It’s only recently that I’ve thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m really feeling like I’m in my 30s now!'"
Expert advice: Dr Hamilton, who performed the treatment, observed that the muscles above Margie’s eyes were overly active, so he used a larger dose of Botox in that area, along with a tiny amount between her brows and around her eyes.
After: "The treatment was quite uncomfortable, but it hurt less than I expected it to," says Margie. Although she had some initial bruising next to her left eye, two weeks later she’s very happy with the results. "Getting ‘the Botoxed look’ was my greatest fear, but no-one’s noticed, except to say that I look really relaxed. While I’m happy with the results, I think I’ll wait a few more years before doing it again."
This treatment was performed at Concept Cosmetic Medicine, Drummoyne, NSW. Call 1300 426 869.
Intense Pulsed LightThe procedure: Known as IPL, this treatment utilises wavelengths that target certain skin problems. It’s also an effective way to tackle the first signs of ageing, says Dr Simon Bernard, medical director of Rejuvenation Therapies, Melbourne.
The results: IPL machines, such as LimeLight by Cutera, treat skin redness, tiny veins, brown spots and sun damage.
The risks: It’s vital that this procedure is conducted by a medical practitioner, not only because burns and scarring may occur if it’s not administered correctly, but, most importantly, so you receive a proper skin assessment, including skin cancer detection.
The pain: There’s intense heat, and it can feel like the small snap of an elastic band against your skin, followed by a mild sunburn-like sensation for the next 12 hours.
The down time: "Swelling or redness may occur in the first 48 hours," cautions Dr Bernard, who says you should expect obvious pigmentation to darken, before it fades after a few days. "Your skin will also be a little more vulnerable to the sun, and going outdoors for extended periods may encourage the pigmentation to return sooner," he adds.
The bottom line: It will cost from $100 for one zone to $350 for full face and neck. Results should last 12 to 18 months.Trial 1
Before: "I’ve been good about using SPF on my face, but not on my body, and that’s where my chest has suffered," says Sue, 31.
Expert advice: "We targeted the brown spots and freckles [on Sue’s] upper chest and face, and some red capillaries across her cheeks," explains Dr Bernard.
After: "It hurt more than I expected and I’m glad I went home afterwards so I could ice my chest," says Sue. "It took about two weeks for the dark spots to clear, but the results are amazing. I’d definitely do it again."Trial 2
Before: "I’m a bit anxious about it because I’ve just seen a TV show about how it burns people’s faces," confides Heather, 44. Expert advice: Just before the consultation, Heather had been holidaying in Queensland, so Dr Bernard was not able to treat her until her tan toned down. Four weeks later, the treatment involved a mid-range setting to target redness on her cheeks and pigmentation on her face.
After: "It was painful, especially the delicate areas around my lips and chin," says Heather. A week later, the pores around her nose had shrunk and the brown spots had started to darken before fading, but she’ll need another session for the broken blood vessels and some stubborn pigmentation. This treatment was performed at Rejuvenation Therapies, Melbourne. Call 1300 758 368.
Dermal FillersThe Treatment: These injectables "can restore volume that’s been lost due to ageing, or to build fullness if it’s lacking in certain parts of the face", explains Dr Steven Liew of Shape Clinic in Darlinghurst, Sydney. One of the newest options on the market is Restylane Vital Light, which offers subtle results by plumping just below the surface of the skin.
The results: The new breed of fillers can be used to reverse the appearance of sun damage, smooth fine lines, and to rehydrate the face, chest, décolletage and the back of the hands.
The risks: Mild bruising may occur where some of the needles have been injected, but it should subside within a week.
The pain: A topical anaesthetic is usually applied, but some discomfort may be felt, as up to 100 needles can be used during one facial treatment.
The down time: You can go straight back to work, but bruising might appear the following day. The benefits will start to take effect after the second visit. The Bottom Line: You’ll need a series of three sessions if you opt for a treatment like Vital Light, which costs from $400 per treatment, plus a six-monthly follow-up visit, from $400.Trial 1
Before: "Going into winter, I like the idea of the added hydration this treatment offers," says Belle, 39. "I’ve had Botox in the past, but I didn’t like its effect on my forehead. I’m hoping to fill out the lines, but without losing movement and expression."
Expert Advice: Following the consultation, it was decided that Belle wasn’t the right candidate for fillers. She tends to get puffy eyes, so the treatment couldn’t be used in that area as it may exacerbate the problem. Instead, to smooth her forehead lines, the therapist recommended a small amount of Botox instead.
After: "I’m really impressed that they advised me against it and glad that we didn’t go through with it," remarks Belle, who’s reconsidering having a small amount of Botox.Trial 2
Before: "I’ve never been healthier or fitter, but my face doesn’t match how I feel," reflects Juliet, 54. "I’d like to look relaxed and refreshed. I have dark circles under my eyes and I’m hoping that can be diminished."
Expert Advice: "[While] surgery would be the best option to correct the eye area, we can use Restylane Perlane [a filler] to provide a little bit of a correction and to reduce the shadows," explains Dr Liew. "Vital Light will provide deep hydration to her dry skin to plump it and reduce some of the fine lines." One week after the initial Perlane injection under her eyes, Juliet was given the first of three monthly Vital Light treatments.
After: "The Perlane felt like a mosquito bite, but there’s no way I could have gone to work the following day if I didn’t want anybody to know. My eye and cheek areas were really swollen and bruised," says Juliet. "After the Vital Light treatments my skin looks much fresher, but I’m particularly thrilled with the effect on the skin under my eyes. I’ve already put a note in my diary to have it done again."
This treatment was performed at Shape Clinic, Darlinghurst, NSW. Call (02) 8356 2888.Top Tip
One of the main side effects of any injectable treatment, such as dermal fillers or Botox, is bruising. To prevent this from happening, Dr Liew suggests avoiding anything that can potentially make the condition worse, such as aspirin, medications like Nurofen and Naprogesic, and a high intake of fish oil. You should also avoid strenuous exercise and hot baths for 24 hours afterwards.Photo: Edward Urrutia. Text: Alex Noonan.