Can you inject your way to a younger face? The stars beauty secret – the filler jab – is now one of Ireland’s most popular treatments but just how effective are these injections and, more importantly, do they work?  Georgina Heffernan goes to Body Benefits in Galway to find out for herself. So, what’s the verdict?

There was a time, not so long ago, when the only option available to those wanting to look younger and fresher, was a facelift. But today, incredible new treatments can help women from all walks of life look 10, even 15, years younger – all without the surgeon’s knife. Welcome to the new crop of injectables. Known as wrinkle fillers, they can fill deep facial crevices as well as plump cheeks, chins and lips — with minimal recovery time and pain.

In Ireland, the average age for the first time getting a non-surgical treatment is 35, yet clinics are reporting clients as young as 18 enquiring about treatments such as Botox and laser skin rejuvenation. The trend is being fueled by wider availability of a host of affordable treatments, such as Botox and laser therapies, as well as new varitiess of wrinkle-busting injections and fillers. It also reflects a new buzzword among women that’s often described as defensive aging: Rather than forking out on a face-lift, many of us are opting for less invasive solutions .

But are all fillers alike and can they ever deliver the same results as surgery?

“For most women, a facelift is not the answer,” says Jeanette Haynes, one of Ireland’s leading authorities on medical aesthetics. “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 if you are being treated by an experienced professional.”

Jeanette Haynes of Body Benefits, Galway Jeanette Haynes of Body Benefits, Galway

Jeanette recommends that anyone planning to try a filler for the first time should ask their ractitionerwhich product they use and why, and also ask to see photographs of some of their or her work .”You have practitioner and product – but your result will only be as good as the product you put in,” she advises.

Dermal fillers have come a long way in the last decade and, the latest formulations offer not just a more natural result, but also work to stimulate the development of younger, plumper skin. However, there’s a big difference between brands.  Market leaders Restylane (Galderma) and Juvederm (Allergan) are sterile gels consisting of hyaluronic acid (HA) and created in a laboratory. Perlane and Juvederm are also hyaluronic acids but are much thicker and with a denser molecular weight, while Belotero and Radiesse (Merz) work by stimulating your body’s  natural collagen.

“When I look at two syringes, and they’re identical, I know what bounce one will give, I know how much life it will give, I know how much it will stick together and stay cohesive – or whether it is designed to spread.  It’s amazing when you see these things in labs, it may just look like a simple syringe to you, but the technology in a filler is astonishing, ” says Jeanette, as she fills a syringe with a clear looking liquid which she informs me is Bolotero – one of the most luxurious products on the market – and her absolutle favourite to use on clients.”The results are just incredible’ she whispers in a conspiratorial  tome.

Before I know it I’m lying on a table getting a numbing solution applied to my face, and despite the soothing music wafting across the room and a promise of impending beauty, I’m nervous. “Is this going to be painful?” I ask anxiously as the anaesthetic works its magic. ” Don’t worry,” she says and plants the first injection in the middle of my cheek. I close my eyes, grip the edge of the table and imagine myself looking as I did in my 30’s. I’m in my 40’s now so gravity has inevitably taken its toll but, like anyone, I’d like to look ‘good for my age’.

As Jeanette works on my face, she explains her approach to non-invasive beauty treatments, and I feel reassured that I’m in capable hands. “When I get a client in for the first time, I dissect their face, I look at their muscles, fat pads, ligaments and bone- and try to determine where it was when they were younger, ” she says, scrutinising my sagging jaw line. “What we do is to put back and reposition all of these little elevations or depressions but exactly how it was in your prime. It’s not about changing the face, ” she adds. ” it’s about regenerating it.”

And so, after roughly twenty minutes of poking and prodding, I’m done. I have a little temporary redness, but all I could notice was my new cheekbones…goodness! They are high and curved just like Nigella’s, and I’m suddenly sporting the plump, pinchable cheeks of my youth. I’m delighted with the result, which is thankfully very natural.

It’s fabulous! But will it last?

“These days the people that have filler in their face are ageing much better,” Jeanette reveals. “You can’t halt ageing, it is continual, but if you weren’t using high-quality filler you would look significantly older, and your face and facial structure would be in a significantly dilapidated state. The results last for the minimum of a year – the more you get, the longer you get and the better result.”

And so to the big question: how much did it hurt? Barely at all -honestly.

The net effect:  Having filler injected isn’t scary. If anything is frightening, it is the simplicity of it. You can stroll in off the high street, have a treatment that in your lunchtime, and return to the office with only barely visible tiny pink bumps that mark where the needle went in. A few days later it’s barely detectable. In fact, the only sign I’ve had anything done is the fact I look rested, refreshed and perhaps a little younger. And my new Nigellaesque cheekbones are simply the iceing on the cake…

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