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Keeping up Appearances

Non Surgical Cosmetic Procedures

Not so long ago a non-celebrity who admitted to having had some 'work' done would be instantly categorised as vain, appearance obsessed or a ‘wannabe.’ These days everyone from high flying businessmen to the girl at the supermarket checkout may have given nature a helping hand with a non surgical cosmetic procedure and think nothing more of it.

These days you don’t have to be a celebrity to consider taking action to undo some of the effects of time, worry or the sun. However not everyone has the time, money courage or inclination to want to go under the knife.

For a few hundred rather than thousands of pounds and the time it takes to sit down and eat lunch, you can get forehead frown lines softened, plump up thin lips and have the top layer of your skin sloughed off to reveal a fresher, younger looking complexion. In fact the popularity of some injectable muscle relaxing treatments has grown so much that you can even hold parties where someone qualified to give them will attend to carry out treatments on your guests! It's not something many professionals would advise however. Chairman of The Harley Medical Group, Mel Braham says: “It is important to have a first consultation with a Registered Nurse who is trained in cosmetic surgery counselling. It is preferable not to have this consultation with a sales person, who are often commission based and perhaps don’t have always have your best interests at heart.”

So are there any pitfalls to be aware of? Botox has been blamed for 'drooping eyelids' and 'frozen face' syndrome where people lose all expression in their face - a far from flattering look! Lip enhancements too are not without their risks - Lesley Ash's hopes of a subtle lip plumping for example turned into the famous 'trout pout' saga that put many people off following suit.

Mel Braham adds: “After your first consultation with a Registered Nurse, you should have the next consultation with your non surgical doctor or operating surgeon who should be a trained and registered on the GMC Specialist Register as a Plastic Surgeon (PS). It’s better that your surgeon isn’t a part-time Cosmetic Surgeon (CS) principally doing Plastic Reconstructive Surgery with a bit of cosmetic surgery on the side, but a PS who has chosen to do cosmetic surgery as a full-time occupation. Every surgeon has to keep a log book of their entire “life time operating record” - ask to see it and have the surgeon explain it to you.”

Mel has the following advice which applies to people considering injectables and more minor cosmetic procedures as well as more major ones such as face lifts:

Think Ahead - Plan ahead and consider when you want the desired affect to take place. For instance you might consider Non Surgical Solutions treatments when starting a new job, getting married, for important social and business functions, starting a new life or just because you feel you're worth it - in fact all or any of the significant moments that we face in our daily lives.

Choose wisely - Find a clinic you feel comfortable with and don’t have anything to do with one that is not registered with and inspected regularly by the Healthcare Commission - ask to see their HCC Registration Certificate to be sure. Similarly don’t respond to any advertisement or website that doesn’t show the logo of HCC on it.

After Care – Make sure you’ve received all your pre and post operating instructions in writing well before you have your operation. Even if you are having a non surgical procedure there may be important aftercare advice you need to observe so make sure that you have all this information and a number to call after your operation or procedure if you need to check anything or speak to anyone.

Complaints Policy – Familiarise yourself with the clinic’s complaints policy, which should be on public display in their waiting room.

Re-Do Policy – Ask about the clinics re-do policy, if it becomes necessary for your operation or cosmetic procedure to be redone.

Ask, ask, ask – for an explanation of anything you do not understand. A good clinic should provide pictures of procedures as examples, be it non surgical or cosmetic work. If these are not offered as a matter of course then ask to have a look at what they have available and if they don’t have anything to show you, ask why.

Whats right for you?

If you’re wondering what procedure does what, here’s a brief run down of three common ones.


This a safe derivative of botulinum toxin and Botox injections have become the most talked about beauty fix for dealing with frown lines and crows feet in recent years. The procedure works by paralysing the muscles to alleviate and soften lines and was discovered when an eye doctor using it for medical reasons, noticed that patients were reporting an improvement when it came to their wrinkles. The procedure is relatively straightforward and the injections usually only take a few minutes with results becoming apparent after around three or more days. Patients will be advised to stay upright for a few hours after the treatment.


These include products such as Restylane and Perlane (both derived from hyaluronic acid) and collagen replacement therapy, known by the brand names Zyderm and Zyplast. Once injected into the skin these products work by lifting, 'plumping-out' and adding volume to the areas being treated making them ideal for enhancing lips and filling in wrinkles. Results are immediate and the effects can last up to 9 months.

Facial peels

Facial peels, also known as skin resurfacing, can be used to improve scarring and sun damaged skin. There are three types of chemical peel, a superficial peel, which is the most common and removes the outer layer or cells, lightly exfoliating the skin to produce a healthy glow, a medium-depth peel which penetrates further into the skin to reduce small wrinkles and acne scars and finally a deep peel, which is less widely available and involves a local anesthetic and several weeks for your face to heal. After any facial peel the outer layers of the skin are more susceptible to damage and you’ll need to avoid the sun for at least a month after treatment and apply a sunblock for protection.


This involves mechanical skin exfoliation without chemicals or laser. The aim is to achieve smoother younger looking skin and this method is used for treating fine lines and wrinkles, blackheads, sun damaged and acne prone skin as well as superficial age spots. A hand held device is used to apply fine, medical grade crystals over the skin which removes the top layer of dead skin cells leaving it softer and smoother. The skin is also left more receptive to anti-ageing and acne creams. No recovery time is needed post treatment. Medical microdermabrasion can be combined with a skin peel for greater results but as with any procedure you will need to get good professional advice.

Sara Niven is a freelance journalist, former beauty therapist and qualified counsellor. She currently writes for a number of national and regional newspapers and magazines specialising in subject areas including health, beauty, travel, general lifestyle and emotional issues.

Non surgical cosmetic procedure