My Thermage treatment has made my post-menopausal skin feel pre-menopausal again - plumper, tighter and glowing"
"Thermage, not only did it work but I could go out to lunch straight afterwards without a problem."
Diane C., Nottingham
“ Over the years Dr. Rakus has kept me going - I don’t know what I would do without her! Part of her charisma is her cool, confident and quiet approach to every treatment I have had and, as a mark of the trust I place in her I am having a Thermage treatment today."
"I couldn't imagine entrusting anyone else, but Dr. Rakus with my face. After my Thermage even my mother has noticed how well I look".
"Since I started my treatment with Dr. Rakus I can now look people in the face. My confidence has soared!"
Treatment junkie Anna Curtis gives her verdict:
Where Dr M R Rakus, 34a Hans Road, SW3
(tel: 020 7460 7324).
Pain factor. 'It's quite anxiety-provoking. I dosed up on Nurofen and was numbed for an hour with anesthetic gel, but the laser still felt uncomfortable - a scratching pain like sandpaper across my skin. But it only lasts 10 minutes.'
Recovery time. Afterwards my skin was hot, incredibly red and tight like sunburn. I lay low for a day until the red had faded to a pinkish glare, and a day later it was almost gone.
Verdict. Fraxel is the whole number - a facelift without the knife. The pigmented marks on my décolleté have almost gone, my skin is beginning to feel softer and more youthful and, along with some help from Restylane on my upper lip, my lines are definitely fading.'
My hairdresser (people who always notice!) made me thrilled when she said “What have you done to your makeup. It looks good, you appear refreshed and your jawline is tighter. A new face cream? Tell me about it”
It wasn’t makeup or creams, but Thermage performed by Dr. Rita Rakus. I’ve trusted her for many years now and I know that if she suggests a new treatment I can rely on her judgment. I’m so pleased that I had Thermage.
Everyone tells me I look so well
"I can't get over all the comments I've had about how much younger I'm looking and my friends can't put their finger on it. " Have you had any surgery?" But they can't see the scars.
by Alice Hart-Davis
AS A BEAUTY JOURNALIST, ALICE HART-DAVIS HAS TRIED £30,000 WORTH OF NON-SURGICAL COSMETIC PROCEDURES. BUT WHICH ANTI-AGEING TREATMENTS ARE REALLY WORTH THE MONEY?
From Botox to Thermage, via IPL hair removal and a lunchtime boob job, I've tried most of the nonsurgical anti-ageing procedures available. Why? Why do you think! Because I'm vain, I'm ageing and I don't like it. Because I'm curious, because I'm the right age (46) and because, thanks to my job, I have the opportunity. If a new treatment sounds credible and safe, I'm frequently tempted to give it a whirl. And, as these things are mostly temporary, if they turn out to be a big mistake, well, live and learn. With time, my face will return to normal.
I fear I may be slightly addicted. I like to think that I could go natural, but I know that, in practice, I'm as likely to let my hair go grey, and that after eight months (roughly the time it takes for fillers or Botox to vanish), I'd feel I was looking gaunt and wrinkly, and want to take action. I know that obsessing about looking young is a shortcut to insanity and disappointment, and I have two gorgeous daughters as a constant reminder of the difference between genuine youthful beauty and the middle-aged, needled facsimile. But hey, you have to try. Sometimes, I'll admit, it doesn't go quite to plan. 'Ooh, what's happened to your cheek?' asked my friend, Tina, a few months ago. 'That's a nasty bruise!' I wondered briefly about fibbing, and decided against. 'Er, walked into a sharp needle,' I muttered. She demanded further explanation. Cheek-volume injections, I added. I have them every now and again. She was beyond shocked. 'Did someone make you do this, to write about it?' she asked. She could not believe that I'd voluntarily indulge in this sort of facial mutilation, let alone treat it so casually as to saunter around with bruises on my face. For a nano-second, I felt ashamed. I was surprised that she was so upset. I didn't like to say that, in my line of work, there's now a tendency to regard fast fixes delivered by needles as beauty treatments, rather than surgical procedures, just one step on from tooth-whitening and fancy face creams. It's all a question of where you draw the line. Is an acupuncture facelift, for instance, natural or invasive? (I tried a course and had great results, but it left red marks where the needles had gone into the same spot twice a week for five weeks, which took six months to fade). Personally, I'm more than willing to be a human guinea pig, and, even better, I'm happy to share my best bits.
Losing my surgery virginity
I stopped being shy of needles around eight years ago. I was interviewing cosmetic doctor Dr Rita Rakus about her then-new work, inflating lips, and she offered to plump out my nose-to-mouth lines with Restylane, a temporary filler. It took minutes, it hardly hurt and I looked instantly better -fresher and younger. 'What have you done?' asked Derek, my sharp-eyed hairdresser. 'Nothing!' I said airily. He wasn't fooled.
Since then, the stigma of admitting that you've succumbed to this sort of procedure has largely vanished. And the goal posts have moved. IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal and microdermabrasion are almost run of the mill.
Now, school mums take me aside and ask, quietly, would Botox work for them? They don't want to change much - their partners would be furious - but they don't like what they see in the mirror and wonder, would it be so bad to give it a try?
What to say? Of course it would work; the key thing with Botox is to find an experienced practitioner with an aesthetic eye, who will observe your face carefully and use a light hand on the needle. I've been injected by doctors who have left my forehead so immobilised and fake-looking that I've had to get a fringe cut to hide the evidence, who have left me looking permanently surprised, or who have made my eyebrows shoot up at a peculiar Mr Spock-like angle (I always book a follow-up appointment a fortnight later, in case things like this need, er, adjusting).
I still have mixed feelings about Botox. I love the way it relaxes frown lines and softens crows' feet, and if I had to pick one treatment in the under-£500 bracket, this would be it. But I hate not being able to move my forehead, and it's pretty hard to find people who will let you have it both ways. (Aamer Khan, Tracy Mountford, Nick Lowe, Patrick Bowler, Rita Rakus, Michael Prager, all do it brilliantly. See box, on page 277.
One thing leads to another
It took me years to get up the nerve to try lip enhancement -Leslie Ash's trout pout was a great deterrent - but now I rely on visits to Fiona Collins and Marie Duckett every nine months for discreet amplification with a filler, called Restylane Lipp. Once the swelling settles down, I think it looks pretty natural, though Derek begs to differ.
For years, I didn't tell my husband what I was doing and, for years, he never noticed (not even the lips), until the day I tried Isolagen, the much hyped grow-your-own facelift, where your skin cells were extracted, processed and injected back into your face. It was the all-natural facelift hope in 2002, but has just gone into liquidation, taking my cryogenically stored skin cells with it. The treatment involved 72 injections. I looked as if I'd been stung by a swarm of bees. My husband was shocked, furious and curious. He didn't see why I had to try it. That time, he had a point - it didn't do a thing.
Sculptra, on the other hand -an injectible filler treatment that also stimulates your own collagen to grow, replacing lost volume -takes time, but has worked well for me. But beware, you do need an extremely experienced injector, like Sharon Brown at The Private Clinic, to minimise the likelihood of lumps. Ever impatient, I prefer instant cheek volumising with Perlane (a thicker version of Restylane filler), especially since Aamer Khan showed me how he could, with one swift sweep of a needle, fill out the hollows beneath my eyes and plump my cheeks. A bit of cheek volume lifts your contours just enough that your nose-to-mouth lines vanish, so it's a three-in-one hit. If I could only have one fix, this would be it but, at around £1,000, it's expensive.
I've also tried skin-plumping, anti-ageing treatments that involve multiple, just-under-the-skin-surface injections of fillers in the backs of my hands and across my decolletage, which I think would have given great results if I'd done a whole course, rather than just a one-off.
I'm more cautious when it comes to laser-type treatments, particularly since one new fractional-resurfacing laser left a microdot-grid-pattem of new collagen around my mouth. I keep meaning to try IPL for thread veins and sun damage on my face, but never quite get round to it (foundation hides a multitude of problems). I was pleased with the results of Thermage on my forehead -1 could feel the collagen in the skin contracting, as the high-powered radio-frequency waves zapped through it, but they've worn off a year later.
If you find all of this as shocking as Tina does, I'm sorry. I wish I was grown-up enough to accept my eventual destination as a saggy-jowled, white-haired dowager and to 'grow old gracefully'. It's a lovely idea (if a hideous phrase) and, for some people - mainly the lucky ones with fabulous bone structure -it works a treat.
My cup runneth over
Occasionally, I overreach myself. I couldn't wait to try Macrolane, the breast-boosting 'boob jab' that launched last year, and loved the cup-size boost it gave me but. in the following months, was disappointed when the volume depleted quickly, then alarmed when one breast hardened up and a lump developed in the other. Luckily, as it's a hyaluronic acid gel, it's temporary, so after another six months, it had all vanished.
You'd think that, by now, I'd be more cautious with novel procedures, but I'm typing this face-down on a couch with fat-busting ultrasound pads strapped to the saddlebags bits of my thighs.
Have I overdone it? I don't think so. I might be kidding myself, but the fact that Tina, who I've known for 25 years, has yet to tell me that I look peculiar (and she wouldn't hesitate) made me think that it can’t be all that obvious. For now.
"Great service, excellent staff and best of all was the Thermage treatment - it really works!"
“I had developed a very sun-damaged décolletage and, having had three treatments of Fraxel, I have been very pleased with the results. I now have a much smoother, younger-looking chest area and the Fraxel has really regenerated my skin. The results are truly noticeable”
The new Restylane Lipp treatment gave my lips an amazingly natural and soft look.
They look beautyfull and the treatment lasted for months. Really great.
"I knew I wanted to have some work done, but I wanted to know I was in good hands. I sought impartial advice and met with Wendy Lewis, the New York aesthetic consultant. She recommended Dr Rakus - she was right. I know I'm in safe hands and my treatments have been effective without side effects and have drawn many compliments".
"I am very pleased my daughter-in-law found
Dr. Rakus's clinic. Without doubt this is the most excellent service in all aspects I have ever encountered anywhere in London or Europe. I shall definitely return."
"I love my subtle new lips, which my friends in New York admire because they look so natural"
"Dr. Rita is so gentle with her Botox® treatments. I can highly recommend it - I was waiting for the 'ouch factor' and it never came!"
Jane - Essex
"Friends are telling me I look very young and never more beautiful - I'm 60!
When I first started treatment I only wanted to use small amounts of injections. Now I leave the amounts up to Dr. Rakus and I can truly say 'more is better' - don't hesitate to go for it!"
Diane D., New York
"My treatment made a fantastic difference, giving me back my youthful appearance thanks to the Lip Queen of London"
"I have had this treatment for the last year and am delighted with the results, many of my clients are thrilled with the results too. The changes are subtle and make you look refreshed. Dr Rita lives up to the quote 'Lose 5 years in 5 minutes'."
"After 38 years of mental abuse, I had finally found the courage to leave my marriage. My self-esteem was non existent. I read an article in Tatler magazine about Dr Rita Rakus and decided I would try Botox® and Restylane. The results have been super. I am now happy to face the world on my own, feeling confident and self assured. I have since had treatments to take away fat pouches from my chin. This has also been a great success. Thank you, Dr Rita Rakus".
Catherine D. - age 63