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Can you inject your way to eternal youth? Hollywood's beauty taboo - the filler jab - is in the mainstream here but what can it actually do to your face? Beauty ed Lynne Hyland finds out.

THE LIQUID FACE LIFT?

It's not wrinkles per se that make us look old. It's actually the creases, hollows and sagging created as the fat pad on the cheeks thins with age.

'It's like a coathanger that's shrunk, so more of the dress is hanging downwards,' explains Dr Susanna Hayter from My Beauty Doctor. ? What fillers can do is restore lost cheek volume, which in turn lifts the face up and pulls out wrinkles. But - and this is a big but - ONLY when done well. Fillers remain totally unregulated, so you have to do your homework on clinics.

'Consultation is key,' says Dr Tapan Patel. 'It's vital to treat the face as a whole and understand how injecting higher up can lift, reshape, smooth and anchor the lower half. If a doctor doesn't really understand what fillers can do - and many don't - a patient might say, "I don't like this line around my mouth" and the doctor will inject filler directly into it without addressing what's causing that line. That often just leads to a heavy or lumpy look.' Get different opinions, and don't feel pressured to go ahead right after a consultation.

As a beauty editor I'm a great believer in trying things myself before recommending them. It's a philosophy I ended up regretting after my first encounter with fillers some eight years ago. Keen to see if my mouth-to-nose lines could be injected away, I ended up with a lump that took endless massaging and panicky calls to the doctor to settle down.

So why am I revisiting fillers now? Well, firstly I'm no needle naysayer. I've dabbled with botox and been very happy with the results. I also believe creams - fantastic as many are - can only go so far. You can certainly buy a smoother, younger surface in a jar, but when the underlying structures start to slip, you're looking at fillers to shore up your scaffolding.

It's an option more and more of us are trusting our face with, too. According to figures from WhatClinic.com, fillers are the UK's number one non-invasive treatment and demand is soaring - up by 113% last year alone.

Pressing pause

At 41, I'm apparently a good age for fillers as it's far easier to press pause than full-on rewind. 'You get a double benefit starting early,' says Dr Tapan Patel at the Phi Clinic. 'Fillers physically restore contours, and the micro-injury from the needle stimulates your own collagen production, which has a preventative effect on ageing.' Bringing a picture of my 30-year-old self (sob! I miss you!) to the consultation proves helpful, as Dr Patel instantly pinpoints changes I wouldn't have spotted: 'You've lost cheek volume, and your chin is starting to rotate downwards too, which will begin to drag your mouth down.' Eek. My face is mapped and marked, and Dr Patel explains he'll use different thicknesses of filler depending on how deeply he's injecting.

The new generation of fillers are injected with a fine needle, which minimises pain, bruising and swelling. However I'm taking no chances and leap upon the offer of numbing cream. As the needle slides in, I don't even wince. I'm expecting my face to blow up like a balloon after but there is nothing. No puffy-faced walk of shame to the train station, no 'What have you done NOW?' from my husband. Remarkable.

Do fillers cause the 'Gone Girl' face?

When Renee Zellweger and Uma Thurman emerged looking so unfamiliar they were dubbed 'the Gone Girls', some pointed the finger at fillers. However Dr Alex Karidis isn't convinced. 'With Renee, I think she's had her upper eyelids done and that's what's changed her appearance, not fillers. Uma looks to me as if she's using different make-up, which makes her look like a mannequin.' Courteney Cox has also been singled out recently for looking fuller-faced than usual. Dr Karidis suspects she IS using fillers but 'making good use of them'. He adds, 'She's very trim and I'd say her face could suffer if she didn't use fillers. Everybody wants the ideal - slim body, big boobs and a plump face - and that doesn't often happen naturally. Mostly, it's created by doctors.'

The verdict

I don't look like I've had anything done. I mean, nothing. If it wasn't my job to try these things and tell the world, nobody would guess. I can't even look in the mirror and pinpoint it. But when I put the before and after pictures side by side, I'm shocked. I look like somebody hit 'refresh' on my face. The hollowing in the cheeks and eyes is plumped out, and the mouth-to-nose lines are softened. Even the chin filler - which I'd feared would leave me looking like the clay head of Lionel Richie in the Hello video - has restored something I didn't even realise I'd lost. It's not cheap - fillers start from PS250 a shot - but if it's a choice between this and expensive skin creams there's no contest for me.

After SEE THE TREATMENT VIDEOS AT MIRROR.CO.UK/3AM/STYLE NB: Phi Clinic www.phiclinic.com Alex Karidis: www.karidis.co.uk My Beauty Doctor: mybeautydoctor.co.uk

NEW GEN JABS

Most fillers are based on hyaluronic acid (HA), which are temporary and even dissolvable if you hate the effect. 'Fillers have become softer, springier and easier to mould, so it's easier to get a more natural result,' says Hayter. 'Brands like Juvederm and Restylane have improved the HA 'cross linking' which means fillers last longer now, around 12 months. But everybody breaks HA down at different rates so your results might last much longer or a lot less.' You need repeat treatments to maintain the results but if you stop, fillers won't leave your skin overstretched and saggier than it was to begin with.

'You face

What's the catch?

Fillers can go wrong so I'd definitely advise against anything permanent and sticking to temporary HA.

have Allergies to HA are practically non-existent but there are still risks, many down to bad technique. These can include bruises, lumps, unevenness and over-filling. 'You can only plump a sagging face so much before it starts looking obvious. At that point surgery will give a more natural result,' says Dr Alex Karidis. 'For instance, I think Madonna, 57, has been on the filler train for a long time to postpone surgery. But she'll need her eyes done at some point because I think that area is creasing where it's clashing with the cheek filler.'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2016
Words:1081
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