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EV Reviews… the non-surgical liquid facelift

A face full of fillers? It doesn’t have the best reputation, but in the right hands, this treatment can turn back the clock immediately and imperceptibly

At 51 and with menopause lurking in the wings, my face is going the way of Munch’s ‘The Scream’, getting bonier by the minute and with visible hollowing at my temples, in my mid-face and even my forehead.

It’s all due to collagen loss, fat pad erosion and even bone resorption. “All of these things serve as your skin’s scaffolding,” says Aesthetic Doctor, Wassim Taktouk. “Once they go, skin will start to slightly droop and crinkle, resulting a face that can look permanently tired and sad."

Quite. It’s why the ‘liquid facelift’ was invented: a succession of dermal fillers and muscle relaxing toxin injections designed to replace the lost supporting structures. Also known as an ‘8-point lift’ (which refers to the main points doctors inject and not the – sadly far higher – number of injections), a few too many identikit ‘balloon faces’ in the public eye may have put you off the idea for life.

Which is a shame: “It shouldn’t be a colour-by-numbers job,” says Taktouk, who, as a UK trainer for Teoxane facial fillers, specialises in the treatment. “It ought to be an entirely personalised treatment, using a palette of different fillers and injectables to precisely emulate the composition of the tissues that have been lost over time. Restoring volume that way can achieve spectacular results of the kind nobody will guess the reason for.”

“By injecting under the muscle with dense fillers that emulate the rigid fat that normally lives there, we can re-create an imperceptible projection of certain planes of the face, over which the skin lies more tautly and smoothly,” he explains. “This then gives the entire area a subtle lift. In other areas, we inject softer fillers of different densities to emulate the superficial fat that naturally stretches with the movements of the face, giving a slightly airbrushed, softer look to the skin overall. By replacing like-for-like what was there not long ago, we can wipe years of stress, sleeplessness and hard living off your face.”

In my case, that’ll require “three different types of filler, some muscle relaxing injections and maybe a round of skin boosters!” enthuses Taktouk. Good lord. Will it hurt? “Some of it is not fun,” he has the grace to admit, setting to work before I can flee.

With an audible ‘pop’, he inserts a needle somewhere near my cheekbone and starts injecting Teoxane Ultra Deep, the brand’s most rigid filler, underneath the muscle that runs below the eye and along the top of the cheek. “I favour Teoxane fillers as they match our tissues in the most natural way, but I’ve used many other reliable brands,” says Taktouk. He layers a soft but dense filler (RHA4) in the area for added ‘juiciness’ and uses the same product to fill out the hollows at my temples.

There’s a bit of unpleasant pressure but it’s hardly painful, and the immediate results are remarkable: I look instantly less gaunt an exhausted, and my undereyes, despite no filler having been injected there at all, look smoother and less crepey. Bizarrely, my nasolabial folds are noticeably less deep: because there’s more volume to my previously hollow mid-face, the area below gets a lift.

The next bit involves injecting my bony forehead and it’s horrible. It can be a real game-changer for those who don’t do well with muscle relaxing injections (like me – an immobilised forehead gives me droopy eyelids). But it’s not to be executed by anyone but a highly experienced and anatomy-savvy physician: there are some major arteries to avoid here.

Using three entry points and a cannula (a round-tipped needle), Taktouk injects a quite light, liquid filler (RHA2) between the muscle and the bone and fans it, windscreen wiper style, under my tissues with his needle – it feels like my skull is being crushed while jabbed with sharp objects. “You have to be subtle here because it’s such a bony area, but this technique will make it look less drawn and convex, and will help plump out lines without freezing your brow,” says Taktouk.

Indeed – while my lines are still there, they look softer and my forehead no longer looks permanently rigid with stress. Spotting weird dimples in my chin that seem to be getting worse with age, Taktouk injects that bit not with fillers but with botulinum toxin (Botox) – “it will stop the tissue contracting and creating those dents” (indeed, it does after it kicks in a week later).

And with that, I’m dismissed, booked in for a follow-up three weeks later to decide if I need any top-ups. “I work from top to bottom; sometimes, the added volume in the mid-face and subsequent lift of the lower face is enough to do away with the need for further fillers in the jaw,” says Taktouk. “And sometimes, we add small amounts of filler everywhere. Either way, spreading the treatment over two sessions can be very helpful for getting ultra-refined results.”

I think I might go for that hit of jaw filler to see if it can tackle my encroaching jowls. The rest of my face, though, already looks a good four years fresher than it did before – and nobody can figure out why. That’s a pretty fabulous result, if you ask me.

Who does the treatment best suit?

Those with age-related volume loss in the face. “If you want to tighten loose skin or sculpt a fuller face, you’re better off with high-intensity focused ultrasound and for denser skin; I recommend fractionated laser treatments to boost collagen production,” says Taktouk.

How many sessions are required?

One – but many doctors, like Taktouk, like to spread the work over two sessions, three weeks apart. “That way we can approach the job conservatively and only add more when we want to,” he says. “This approach also assuages ‘filler phobia’ – my clients can rest assured they won’t go ‘over the top’.”

When will I see results?

You see results immediately, although there’s a bit of additional initial swelling; it settles over a week or two to reveal the full picture, which on average lasts 18-24 months.

How much does it cost?

It depends on how many syringes of product you need; doctors charge between £350 and £900 per syringe of filler (I needed four, over two sessions). Botulinum toxin (from £200 nationwide) and skin boosters like Profhilo (from £350) are extra.

What do I need to do after the treatment?

Some gentle massage to help the fillers spread in some places is helpful – listen carefully to your doctor’s instructions to get it right.

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