Tweakment, aesthetic treatment, facial optimisation… even just the titles can seem upsettingly vague. So: how exactly do you know where to look?
The world of facial enhancement has come a long way since the Ab Fab stereotype. Long gone is that generic one-size-fits-all “surgery face”, replaced with something altogether more minimal. But. It can still be an overwhelming minefield when it comes to knowing what you want, when to get it, and – perhaps most importantly – where to go to get it.
What tweakments boil down to is essentially teeny tiny amounts of neuromodulators and fillers, strategically placed and carefully delivered to enhance or minimise whatever is concerning you. Results are designed to be subtle and natural-looking, working with your natural look rather than creating a new one. Think aesthetic beauty’s version of barely-there makeup as apposed to full-coverage looks.
Tweakments are about understanding the face, being able to identify the root cause of something, and making a small change that’ll have a knock-on effect. I went to see award-winning nurse Alexandria Henderson after lockdown to lament my recent lack of face shape – I missed my cheekbones of circa 2019. I arrived armed with a myriad of potential reasons to explain this, all with varying degrees of causality – too much sleep (I lie on my front), weight gain, increased use of salt during my banana bread phase… (I never said the reasons were particularly logical). My belief upon entering Alex’s clinic was that I had “peaked”, and would need some serious help to look like “me” again.
Far from a quick-fix, my time with Alex began with a period of talking and assessment. She got to know me, my lifestyle, and what my goals were. But rather than asking what I wanted, Alex asked what was bothering me, and used this to make recommendations. Which is frankly the way it should be – after all, Alex is highly qualified in this area and I am not. And you wouldn’t tell a surgeon how to mend a broken bone, would you. She studied my face (both visually and through gentle massage), and presented me with a question: do I grind my teeth? “No, but I often find myself with an achingly sore jaw by the end of the day”. Alex’s eyes lit up: a ha. We had a culprit. You see, turns out that jaw tension over a long period can lead to over-developed masseter muscles, which essentially hides your cheekbones by filling-out your facial contours in all the wrong places. Interestingly, Alex told me this was something she had seen an exponential rise in since lockdown, attributable to the stress of the past couple of years. What a relief – it wasn’t just me. And more relief still – Alex suggested a small amount of botox to relax the offending muscles to allow my naturally full cheekbones to take-back centre stage. There wasn’t even a whisper of creating a new silhouette through dermal fillers, which is what some other practitioners had previously recommended.
What struck me as so reassuring about Alex was her level of understanding – not only medically, but also as a human. She understood my frustration and had a solution to present. She was absolutely not “needle-happy”, and agreed wholeheartedly with me that I should still look pretty much the same upon leaving her clinic. And this is the wonderful thing about tweakments. They’re not major changes, they’re non-surgical, and they yield exceptional results. Instead of whacking a load of filler into my cheeks (a comparatively lazy, and actually now out-dated method) to get a result, Alex carefully analysed my face and came up with a plan.
All this is why it is so important to see the right practitioner. Alex founded Ciao Bella Aesthetics with the intention of offering a positive, natural and honest treatment outcome. What is particularly unique, is that all practitioners in the clinic are nurses, meaning they are adept at delivering exceptional levels of empathy, understanding and care. Personally, I was particularly drawn to Alex’s level of emotional intelligence. Clearly I was there for a reason, but rather than encouraging me to make some big change or commit to a lengthy and expensive on-going treatment, she advised impartially, professionally, and as a human. She shares my desire for any “work” to be imperceptible – many of her clients simply want to look a little fresher or more like themselves again after a stressful period.
A month or so later, I re-visited Alex for a follow-up appointment. Having seen for myself the huge impact of relaxing my masseter muscles on my whole face, it was hugely gratifying to have Alex agree with me. My face had returned to it’s natural contours, and my healthier silhouette meant I was using less make-up and had regained my confidence. So I took the plunge and opted to have a (very) small amount of filler in my lips, to help finalise the re-balancing of my features. The injections were tiny and almost painless (albeit with the aid of numbing cream), and spread out over my entire lips. Alex explained that her intention was to give back natural fulness, rather than creating that tell-tale pout. Music to my ears.
Aside from a very minor amount of swelling on the first evening, my time with Alex had zero downtime, and to be perfectly honest, no-one but me has noticed the difference. The absolute mastery of Alex’s precise technique meant the only real way to tell anything had changed was by looking at before-and-after pictures.
The litmus test was heading home a couple of days later to spend Easter with my family, aka the people who know every inch of me best. There was not a single mention. Simply put, I looked exactly the same as before, just slightly fresher. Alex is leading the way in less-is-more, bespoke facial aesthetics, and is 100% one for the speed dial.
To sum up, here are my rules for picking the perfect practitioner for aesthetic treatments:
Take your time – whilst it may seem the more economical / efficient option, getting multiple treatments at once is a Bad Idea. Why? Most treatments take a little while to settle. And since all skin is connected, there is a slight ripple effect. Which means you may no longer want the second part.
Do your research – check your practioner’s qualifications, background, and socials. Is it all dramatic changes and wild before & afters? Swerve.
Know what product they use – each has different pros and cons and have been designed to illicit a variety of results.
Ask questions – your practitioner should manage expectations rather than making inflated promises.
Know about pain relief – not all practitioners use numbing cream, and it’s also not essential for all treatments.