Iovera ('Botox without the Botox'), a bespoke facial and a non-surgical facelift: Caroline Phillips tests the new, newer and newest anti-ageing facial treatments
Iovera: Botox without the Botox
And so to 111 Harley Street to see Dr Yannis Alexandrides, the cosmetic genius (famed for the Y-lift facelift) who is pioneering Iovera.
In my opinion, Iovera needs more testing. Still, it’s already being hailed as the new Botox – only better, because it doesn’t involve toxic botulinum injections. Instead, Iovera uses a localised ‘cold’ therapy that reduces lines and wrinkles by numbing them.
Yannis has a three-month waiting list. (Think good-looking doc, swish rooms with witty artwork, and models’ show-cards on the mantelpiece). First, you sign a lengthy consent form, waiving swelling, bruising, little or no improvement after Iovera and so on.
Next, the doc uses a TENS – that’s Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Simulation – machine to find the offending nerve that’s causing you to frown. (It controls the frontalis, a muscle that raises the eyebrows.) Then he numbs the area with anaesthetic.
Thirty minutes later, he produces a dinky hand-held device with three needles to puncture the skin – and injects you with liquid nitrous oxide for a few seconds. It feels as if a cold rod is being prodded into your brain, followed by a searingly painful, burning feeling.
“It’s like being injected with ice cream, isn’t it?” says the doctor. He suggests ‘five rounds’ for this session; I flee after two.
The cold therapy targets peripheral nerve tissue, which then becomes dormant for a few weeks . Yes, the results are instant, unlike Botox, which takes a week. Yes, my frown lines have softened. But it only lasts three to four months (and in my case is tender for three weeks afterwards).
Also, it can only be used on the dynamic forehead lines, so may leave you looking unbalanced; and, anyway, I like raising my eyebrows.
Dr Yannis invites me to return for a top-up and suggests I take strong painkillers first. I’d rather eat my own spleen.
Iovera, £500, by Dr Yannis Alexandrides
It’s difficult to review an Abigail James facial. She might include medical-grade oxygen, a Vitamin C peel, steam and extraction. Or she might not.
She may focus – as she did with me – on lots of (healing) hands-on connective tissue massage, to lift and soften muscles and detoxify the skin. Or she may not.
She could use Liz Earle or perhaps Kerstin Florian products. Or she could decide that an Ormedic facial cleanse and a tingly Priori AHA fruit-acid peel is what your skin needs. (She used four different brands on me.)
So this is not just another facial. It’s the ultimate bespoke facial by an ultra- intuitive facialist using plant-based care alongside high tech.
Before she starts, what you will definitely get is a comprehensive consultation over a glass of cucumber water, holistically covering everything from main dermal concerns and lifestyle to food sensitivities. (Diet, health and treatments are her holy skin trinity.)
Afterwards, you get a snug cashmere throw placed over your body in a smart medical room in Grace Belgravia. (Yes, you can go there even if you’re not a member of the club.) And she gives invaluable tips (“Keep your skin cream in the fridge”).
Meanwhile, she introduced me to a revolutionary handheld device, the Foreo Luna, which delivers transdermal sonic pulsations to remove dead skin cells and cleanse pores brilliantly. (“It’s like an electric toothbrush for the face,” she said, “and you can use it at home!”)
If you like, she’ll even follow up with an aftercare email, including lifestyle recommendations – and you leave feeling tranquillised, restored and revived. I call it graceful.
Abigail James Bespoke Signature Facial, £175 for 60 minutes.
If you like instant gratification, this is your treatment: dermal fillers put in eight different places – and best done by Fiona or Marie of Fiona Marie Aesthetics, the Michelangeli of the filler world. (They sculpt your face beautifully.)
Lesser practitioners tend to target a specific area or two – hello hamster cheeks – but with the eight-point facelift, the visage is addressed as a healthy family of octuplets rather than disconnected singletons. This includes three points along the cheekbone, the top of the nose, and the mouth line, so it’s bye bye nasty nasolabial folds (laughter lines).
First you sign a consent form. Next Marie gives you a mirror: “Take a look. What bothers you?”
“Sad mouth,” I reply.
OK, breathe deeply and keep your eyes closed: the treatment involves transcutaneous injections. It’s uncomfortable but bearable. And quick (it’s usually just one syringe in the first treatment).
Marie uses Voluma; biodegradable, temporary dermal fillers made from hyaluronic acid, a natural constituent of your skin (like collagen) but in this case man-made. The body cleans it away (unlike silicone) over time. And it’s been used for nearly 20 years.
She’ll fill cavities, enhance fine lines, plump up skin that has thinned with age and stop sagging skin by ‘replacing’ the soft tissue lost as we reach life’s second half. The treatment works particularly well on high50-ers, after ten years of losing volume in eight places.
The results are natural, can be seen immediately and last up to a year. Immediately after the injections, there’s no downtime, just a little redness. Oh, and clients go in one door to the treatment room and out of another. You can’t get more discreet than that.
Eight-point dermal filler treatment from £350 at Fionamarie