Fascinated and terrified in equal measure, we can see the sometimes spectacular, sometimes uncomfortable-looking results of these treatments all around us, serving as a constant reminder of our vanity—and of how amazing we might look and feel if we dared to have a dabble with the help of a great practitioner.
It’s an internal conflict that gets our blood up, possibly because it alludes to us prioritising our looks over, say, our brains and wit, and even, viscerally, to humanity’s futile search for the Elixir of Youth.
But the depressing hopelessness of Covid and repeated lockdowns has caused somewhat of a shift in attitude, bringing into focus the notion that all our progress and knowledge may not necessarily help us live longer, but should at least allow us to live better.
A surge in interest in any form of ‘self-care’ is extending into aesthetic clinics, with practitioners reporting a loss of ‘tweakment inhibitions’ among their regulars.
“It’s not that they suddenly want a crazy load of work done,” says Dr Vicky Dondos, Co-Founder of London’s Medicetics. “They’re just a lot less fretful someone might guess they’re seeing a cosmetic doctor, and less insistent on ‘invisible’ results. They opt instead for treatment plans that promise noticeable and sustained rejuvenation.
“There is a ‘let’s go for it’ attitude and a realisation that this is something they want to do for themselves, never mind what others think.”
Patients, says Dondos, want to look vibrant and radiant, feel physically strong and mentally in control. They no longer see tweakments as a costly and shameful indulgence, but as an extension of their yoga classes and immune-boosting eating plans.
Post-lockdown proactivityAt Facial Aesthetics in Essex, Clinical Director Julie Scott is reporting much the same. “I’d describe the post-lockdown shift as patients becoming more proactive,” she says.
“Whereas before they would deliberate and procrastinate, now they seem to just pick up the phone and book in their appointments.”
Like Dondos, Scott sees patients increasingly opting for a holistic approach to their care “as opposed to just chasing one line or wrinkle.” It’s more about looking after your skin as a whole now, she says.
“I think patients feel so much has been taken from them this year, they want to keep control in any way they can. Accessing the tools to come out of this triumphantly, looking fantastic, is empowering.”
This is reflected in a subtle change in the way patients express themselves in their consultations: “They used to point to jowls or age spots and simply wanted these ‘imperfections’ gone,” says Miss Jonquille Chantrey of One Aesthetics Studio in Alderley Edge.
“Today, they talk about their low energy, their general sense of malaise—and about procedures as a feelgood strategy that will help them project and manifest a confident, happy person to the world.”
Adds Dondos: “I used to think that ‘stress face’ was a marketing construct, but it is real, especially now. ‘Haggard’ and ‘sad’ are the emotions most patients want my help in erasing from their face.”
Talking technologyIt doesn’t hurt, of course, that the tools of the trade have been so vastly improved and refined over the years. It’s fair to say even the most talented practitioners dispensing first-generation tweakments were hard-pressed not to leave some perceptible trace of ‘work’, in the form of bowling-ball foreheads, inflamed skin and over-filled features.
“Those memories are still fresh for all of us, and I believe they’re at the heart of why many people still get worked up over the subject of tweakments,” says Dr Emily MacGregor of London’s Story Clinic.
But advanced technology, techniques and textures have changed everything over the past 10 years or so, allowing clinicians to precision-engineer rejuvenation that is perceptible without being blatant: the holy-grail ‘wow, have you been on holiday?!’ effect.
“With a palette of different viscosities when it comes to injectables, we no longer just increase volume,” says Chantrey. “I can add glow, definition, lift; it’s like a painter using light and shade.”
Dondos uses what she (amusingly) calls ‘nonsense doses’ of botulinum toxin as part of her arsenal of subtle tweaks, and calls the advancements in skincare ‘enormous’. “Modern skincare has the ability to change your complexion, and my clients are no longer cynical when I insist in incorporating it in my programmes because they see it working,” she says.
Scott loves the real results she gets from skin boosters and bio-remodelling treatments such as Profhilo, alongside combination treatments integrating radiofrequency, Hydrafacials, peels and skincare.
“There’s always been an awful lot of judgment about tweakments, even from women amongst themselves, in a way that is never reserved for indulging in designer labels or fancy cars,” muses MacGregor. “If ‘the Covid-effect’ helps shift that, it can only be a good thing, especially as, I would suggest, investing in great skin has a far more sustained and meaningful feel-good effect than retail therapy.
“I have certainly noticed that being holed up in the house in no way affects my patient’s desire for treatments, proving they’re definitely wanting it for themselves and their own sense of wellbeing.”
She points out that her Story clinic presents itself as a comfortable ‘spa’ environment specifically to take away the ‘secret clinic’ vibe and give women (and men, of course) licence, should they so desire, to share their experiences and knowledge in the same way they’ve, in recent years, come to discuss their skincare journeys.
“Anything that makes it easier for people to exchange information and educate themselves about procedures is great,” agrees Dondos. “As does recognising that having tweakments is so often just a little bit of joy that we indulge in.
“Taking delight in preening ourselves is frankly only human, but has been under a cloud of guilt and shame for too long. Stop the judgment, I say, especially after this dreadful year we’ve all been through.”
Julie Scott, Owner & Clinical Director
Julie Scott has over 25 years experience in the field of plastics and skin rejuvenation, and is a member of the BACN...Book with Julie Scott