“You must think I’m really vain!” is something I hear from my clients not infrequently. I ask them to define where pride in one’s appearance ends, and vanity begins. Most of them struggle to find the answer.
Regardless of constantly reminding ourselves that what’s on the ‘inside’ is the most important, living in a society where we are regularly bombarded with images of the beautiful people, it can be quite challenging to maintain that way of thinking. This is especially true as we start showing the signs of aging. Middle-aged women, I was once told, pretty much become invisible. I didn’t believe it until it happened to me in a shop one day, and I didn’t like it!
It is hard to accept the aging process can mean that what we look like on the ‘outside’, no longer matches what we feel on the ‘inside’, but not being seen at all, is totally depressing! Clients, as they get older, often comment that they are sometimes shocked when they look in the mirror, because the face looking back at them, in no way reflects the image they have of themselves, or the thoughts going on in their head. That part never seems to age! An aging face can also portray a look of negativity, when the exact opposite is actually true. Unfortunately however, any observers assume that if someone looks tired, worried or grumpy, then it must be how they are. Luckily, this can easily be reversed with the right treatment. What I really love to hear when showing someone the result immediately following treatment is, “That’s the way I used to look!”
Appearance Medicine fills the gap very nicely between treatments we can get from our beauty therapist, and surgery options from the plastic surgeon. The procedures are non-surgical, but more invasive than beauty therapy treatments. We aim to make changes that are subtle to others, which means the results need to be very natural. The extent of improvement should only be obvious when comparing to the before photos.
Clients have had great delight in sharing with me the feedback from friends and families over the years. Comments along the lines of “You look well – have you just been on holiday? You must be in love to look this good! What have you done to your hair – it suits you? What lipstick are you using because your lips looking fabulous? How come you look younger every time I see you? What blusher do you use because it makes your cheeks look amazing?” We are not trying to drastically change someone’s looks, but rather enhance their own natural beauty, so they look the best they can.
So why do I do it? After more than 20 years in the appearance medicine industry, I firmly believe that for a lot of women, how we look does have an impact on how we feel about ourselves, no matter how gorgeous we are on the inside. In my line of work as an appearance medicine nurse therapist, I have the privilege of enhancing faces, often quite subtly, which as a result, makes someone feel better about who they see in the mirror. Watching a person’s confidence grow, through knowing they are looking the best they can look, is hugely rewarding. That is my ‘why’ – the reason I absolutely love and will always love, doing what I do.
I have women shedding tears of joy while looking at their results, lots who want to hug me, (I’m big on hugs, so loving that!) several, who make it necessary for me to wrestle the mirror off them, because they can’t stop staring at themselves, and women who openly say how much more confident they feel facing the world. I believe that if more people, women in particular, were aware of the confidence boost even the smallest enhancement can give them, we would be struggling to keep up with demand!
Our aim is not all about trying to make everybody look 10 or 20 years younger. For most clients looking at Appearance Medicine procedures, the focus is about wanting to look like they are ‘aging well’, or ‘looking good for their age’. The work we do therefore, needs to be age appropriate, or it looks obvious and even weird at times. We have all seen faces that have been ‘over done’, and it is not pretty. Anyone desperate to look 20 years younger, we send on to the plastic surgeons to deal with. Age is irrelevant. We all want to look more beautiful regardless of age. We have clients, who are quite young, but have something about their looks that challenges their confidence, eg scars, skin problems, facial and leg veins, excessive sweating. I have also treated women in their 80s, who still take pride in their appearance and want to look the best they can.
Although I have witnessed a huge shift over the years, in the attitude to sharing with friends and families, there is still a great deal of secrecy associated with this industry. Consequently, it makes it very difficult to grow a business by word of mouth. When my clients come back and share all the positive comments they receive, and I ask them if they told the person what they had done to make them look so good, more often than not, I’m told “No way! Of course not!”
I have long since given up expecting clients to share what treatments they’ve had. I understand that most of them feel that pretty much everyone has an opinion, (generally from those who haven’t had anything themselves), which is often negative. Consequently, they don’t want to put themselves in a situation of having to defend their personal reasons, or why they choose to spend their money that way. What I do encourage them to share however; is how it makes them feel. I suggest they explain that they don’t really remember what we said, or what we did, but they certainly remember how we made them feel.
When I decided to write this article, I wanted to test my theory that, even with quite subtle enhancement, our confidence and outlook on life is likely to be improved. I wanted to treat someone, who had not had anything before, who was already attractive, so not ‘needing’ anything specific, but who could benefit from a little ‘tweaking,’ and then ask her how it made her feel. I asked Deidre from Fitness Journal to be my model, and it took a little persuasion initially, but then she said yes. I started with a full face IPL treatment to remove any pigmented areas and to even out skin tone. We then treated her with botulinum toxin to reduce her frown and crows feet lines, being careful not to over do this as a ‘frozen” face does not look good! Deidre has beautiful smiley eyes, so we didn’t want to change that. Two weeks later I used filler for lift and to replace lost volume in the mid (cheeks) and lower face. Some fine line filler was the icing on the cake, to plump out the fine lines and lift the corners of her mouth. During this treatment period Deidre was also having a series of medi-facials to improve skin texture.
We have included her before and after photos, not to prove how clever we are, but to show that she still looks like Deidre and that we aren’t making this up. More importantly for this article, are her before and after comments, which she has allowed me to share.
How did you feel when I first asked you? Were you worried about people knowing?
Excited and apprehensive! Always exciting to look forward to having something that makes us feel and look better (events, new clothes, car, holiday etc) Apprehensive about the outcome. How would I look? I didn’t want to end up looking like cat woman or like I had major plastic surgery gone wrong! What if I didn’t like it? Then what????
How did you find having the treatments? Was it painful?
The treatments were great – very little pain of any at all. A breeze compared to going to the dentist or boot camp!
How did you feel when you looked in the mirror after we finished?
I felt relieved first and foremost (because I didn’t look like a freak) and then excited about the subtle changes that were taking place.
Do you look hugely different?
No not hugely different, but enough to make a difference. I feel I look refreshed and maybe turned the clock back a few years. My face looks fuller and more youthful.
Did you get any comments from others?
Nobody looked at me and said OMG what have you done?!!! I got more comments along the lines of “Gosh you look good! What’s happening in your life?” “Your skin looks great”. “You look great” etc
Would you do it again if i asked you?
Did it haven any effect on how you see yourself, or your confidence in general?
The best thing after the treatment for me is I feel so much better about walking out the door with very little makeup on (great in the mornings!) Definitely feel more confident …. Just feels good to look the best you can without any major surgery!
We are in our faces 24/7, so we need to feel good about them! Call it vain, or call it taking care of ourselves, but it is hard to deny that looking our best, significantly helps to increase our confidence. And who wants to be invisible? For anyone reading this article, who has had some Appearance Medicine procedures themselves and are pleased they did, please share your experience. You would if it was a good movie or restaurant. Spread the word, so that more people know of the opportunity to feel the positive benefits from a little enhancement too. For anyone contemplating having a treatment, come and see us at Clinique Elan, where we believe that it really is ok to feel good about looking good.