As I wait for my colleagues to join me on a Zoom meeting, I stare at myself on camera, prodding at a fleshy appendage that is not my cheek. It sits above my jaw but below my mouth, and I think it’s new here. If not, I missed its arrival. I don’t know whether I’d call it a jowl just yet, but it’s certainly on southbound way. I rapidly smile and frown, trying it on for size, seeing how it suits my facial expressions, at which point I notice a shadow in my mouth, where one front tooth, desperate for centre stage, is eclipsing the other. I make a mental note to investigate once the meeting is over. I do so and am instantly discouraged. My teeth are shifting like tectonic plates.
There’s quite the list building here. Would there be a list if it wasn't for four Zoom meetings a day? Is it an indictment on my character that I even have a list? Am I a raging narcissist? (Don’t answer that). But if I am, I’m not alone. According to Dr David Jack, who has a clinic on Harley Street, appointments are up 20% on last year. “I’ve had a significantly higher number of enquiries lately for a number of reasons. First, post-lockdown we had a rush of people desperate to get their regular treatments in. But also lots of new clients, who are noticing the effects of ageing after being on so many video calls. Every day someone cites this as a reason for coming to see me”. So let’s call it the Zoom effect. In normal times, I’d look in the mirror for five minutes in a morning, take the occasional selfie and be done. Now I am studying my face with the same forensic rigour that an archaeologist would an unknown civilisation.
Speaking of, I really did feel like a civilisation was buried in my forehead, working tirelessly to dig trenches that could, like The Great Wall of China, be seen from space. In September I got Botox for the first time. My plan was to get it on my 30th birthday, but at present, that’s over a year away, and some studies suggest we’ve aged five years in lockdown, so really I'm 33, and late to the party. In the days after the treatment, I felt as though the same imaginary people were pitching a tent on my forehead, pulling the ropes as tightly as possible to torten it to the max. I was thrilled and thanked them greatly.
I was reluctant to write this piece, because in a way, it feels irresponsible to prey on people's weaknesses, and to suggest that processes related to ageing, are problems that need solutions. I certainly don't want to impose my narrative on anyone else. But there's nothing wrong with wanting to look the best you can. It doesn't have to be a betrayal of the sisterhood. And there's certainly an appetite for it – Google searches for tweakments have risen by 25% since the beginning of the pandemic, and aestheticians phones are ringing off the hook. I've spoken to people twice my age about it, and people that are younger, too. The conversation is not frivolous or flippant. It feels, despite the elaborate analogies and colourful exaggeration above, regular and pragmatic. As long as you're doing it for you, who's to judge?
Dr David Jack is the kind of person you want wielding a needle in your face. His assurance and speed is that of someone that’s been doing this for years, and who will not, under any circumstances, make you look static or stunned. What’s more, he’s also an antiques expert, which means his Harley Street practice is filled with standout pieces of furniture and art.
See Dr David Jack from £250 (96 Harley St, Marylebone, London W1G 7HY)
Rhinoplasty is a big undertaking, both physically and financially, costing anywhere upwards of £5000. A non-surgical nose job however, is a much lighter procedure. Using hyaluronic acid (the moisturizing ingredient in skincare) it can create a straighter profile, evening out bumps and kinks, lifting drooped or ski slope tips. Dr Dray (not that Dr Dre) is widely regarded as the leading expert in the field, and because the procedure takes as little as 15 minutes, you can pop and see him on your lunch break. Maintenance is required every 8 -12 months.
See Dr Dray, from £600 (20 Canning Pl, South Kensington, London W8 5AD)
In pursuit of a sharper, more defined jaw? Head to New York Dermatology Group’s UK outpost at Harrods’ Wellness Clinic, where it will be syringed into shape, again, using hyaluronic acid. First, your face is photographed from every angle by a Vectra 3D imaging scanner (if you had a hang up before…), then hyaluronic acid is then injected to add angles and oomph. Results can last anywhere from one to two years, and honestly, few people will be able to tell, which is exactly how it should be. They will simply think you’ve always had a marvellous jaw, and that you are in fact, impervious to mince pie-related chin and neck weight gain.
See Dr Papageorgiou, Medical Director at the New York Dermatology Group UK at The Wellness Clinic at Harrods, from £800 (87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL).
After enjoying rip-roar success in the States, SmileDirectClub has arrived in the UK. Appointments are free, and include a 3D image scan of your mouth and teeth from all angles. The scans are then sent to HQ in Nashville – the irony of which is not lost on me – where aligners are moulded. Treatment takes between four to six months, depending on your SmilePlan. Aligners arrive altogether, in clearly labelled pouches, in addition to teeth whitening formula, so that after the original appointment, there’s no need for any more (though there’s always someone on hand to answer questions). On your SmileDirectClub, you can track your progress, i.e. how much your teeth have moved. If there’s not a clinic near you, look out for the SmileBus that makes its way up and down the country launching in 2021, to carry out consultations on the go.
No matter what your plan, it comes at a fixed rate of £1539, which can be paid at once, or in monthly instalments of £70.99 for 24 months.
67 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7PT