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Are you a candidate for a liquid facelift?

How practitioners can use dermal filler to shape and sculpt your face

If lockdown has left you feeling a little dissatisfied with your face, you’re not alone. Aesthetic clinics everywhere are reportedly seeing a massive rise in both men and women seeking a range of treatments.

As well as the standard beauty maintenance treatments, patients are contemplating dermal fillers, Botox and other toxins, and even invasive surgical treatments like facelifts.

The reality of 'Zoom Face'

Spending hours on Zoom, FaceTime and other similar platforms has resulted in us scrutinising our faces much more closely than we have ever done before.

We would never usually spend so much time examining ourselves in the mirror as we talk and animate, and together with bad lighting and a tendency to look down into the camera (the most unflattering angle!), it’s not surprising so many of us are hot-footing it straight to our aesthetic doctors.

“Since lockdown I’ve seen an increase in the number of patients seeking treatments for a tired look”, says Dr Marcus Mehta, Co-Founder of the new Marylebone based clinic, STORY. “Many of my patients are more concerned than before, feeling their faces have ‘sagged’.”

A decade ago those who wanted to lift their faces would have spent their savings or taken out loans for a major surgical procedure like a facelift.

But taking the risks of surgery and weeks of recovery involved into consideration, they are now coming round to the idea of the ‘liquid facelift’, which promises results in just 30 minutes and for a fraction of the price of a surgical procedure.

What exactly is a liquid facelift?

Also called a ‘Y Lift’, injections of dermal filler are strategically and expertly placed into multiple layers over multiple zones of the face to give a subtle lift.  For the greatest impact, Mehta targets the bone as this creates lift in a way where you can't see the filler,  thus avoiding that obvious 'filled' look.

Doctors say that patients mainly want to look refreshed but not so different that people won’t recognise them. Mehta even goes so far as to say that, “in the right patient a liquid facelift can provide comparable results to a surgical lift without the need for an operation.”

The best patients for this lift are usually aged between 35 and 60 years old – a patient over 60 who has lost a lot of volume in the face won't get such a good result.

Subtle changes can make the eyes appear wider, brows and cheeks higher, jowls reduced and craggy jawlines given definition with no obvious signs of treatment and minimum downtime.

What is dermal filler?

Facial filler is a gel-like substance that can be used to give more structure to the face. It comes in different thicknesses or densities depending on what it is being used for.

Some areas of the face, for example the cheeks, need denser filler to give a more rounded shape, whereas the lips need a more lightweight and pliable filler.

For lifting the face, most doctors prefer cross-linked hyaluronic acid-based fillers, meaning that the molecules of hyaluronic acid are first stabilised and then ‘crosslinked’ into a lattice which allows it to stay put.

The benefit of hyaluronic acid is that it is found naturally in the body and holds onto moisture; this gives the filler its structure and plumps up the skin from beneath.

Where is filler used?

If the idea of fillers makes you shudder when you think of those overfilled A-list faces – not really younger looking, just swollen and ‘done’ – then fear not. What we associate with youth is actually not tautness but fullness.

As we age, everything – muscle, bone, fat – starts to shrink underneath a skin that hasn’t shrunk, which is then dragged down by gravity leaving that baggy, loose, deflated, older look to our faces.

Doctors used to place filler straight into facial lines which often gives a heavy and puffy result. However, years of product development and technique evolution in the aesthetics field has given doctors a better understanding of the effect of ageing on the face.

“The best treatments address the cause and reason for ageing rather than chasing visible lines,” says Mehta. “This results in much more natural, effective results where patients look and feel refreshed rather than ‘filled’.”

A skilled practitioner will know how to restore symmetry and proportion to your face, and this is where their experience will show.

It is not a one-size-fits-all treatment and your doctor will work with your facial structure to achieve the best result.

For example, filler injected in the temples can lift the corner of the mouth in a very natural way, while filler expertly injected into the cheeks can soften nose-to-mouth lines by gently lifting the face.
Patients want to look refreshed and well but not so different that people won’t recognise them.

Do liquid facelifts hurt?

Injections are often administered with a combination of fine needles and cannulas to deliver filler in the places it is needed most. It's about injecting the filler in the correct area and at the correct depth.

Numbing cream is rarely needed as most modern brands of filler contain a small amount of local anaesthetic. After your procedure your face may feel a little uncomfortable for a brief time but the results will be worth the discomfort. Best of all, the treatment can often be done in lunch break.

When will I see the results?

You’ll see the results immediately, although there may be a little localised bruising, swelling and soreness for a couple of days.

Expect to have a follow-up appointment with your doctor a month later to check that you are both happy.

You can then enjoy your refreshed and lifted face for anything up to two years, depending on your individual biology, before considering a refresher.

In the event that you are unhappy with the results, you can have a hyaluronic acid-based filler dissolved with an injection of a product called Hyalase.