Take that look off your face

You don't need surgery to have a face-lift, explains Melanie Rickey
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Indy Lifestyle Online
It isn't easy getting older. Ask the thousands of women who have face-lifts every year. They are so eager to hold back the years, that to have their entire face repositioned by undergoing weeks of pain and discomfort (not to mention the pounds 4,000 cost) is worth it just for a few years of prolonged youthfulness.

Margareta Loughran held that view. At 48, after her two children had grown up and flown the nest, she felt a face-lift was the only thing to give her ego a boost. "I looked around, but wasn't happy about the services on offer - they seemed too harsh and cruel," she says. Just the stance Joanna Briscoe has taken in her novel, Skin, which suggests that women who have face-lifts are not doing it for themselves but for men or, more truthfully, to keep their men.

Before long, Loughran, a qualified psychoanalyst, was looking into holistic and alternative ways to achieve renewed youthfulness. But that, too, was an uphill struggle. In 1987, most practitioners in both England and her native Sweden were pretty uninspiring. Then she came across the treatment that changed her life. It couldn't have been more simple. The treatment claimed to be an instant face-lift that used only a specialised facial massage, or a finger-tip face-lift. Loughran had one treatment, during which the practitioner gently massaged each of the face, neck and shoulder muscles, and in minutes she knew it was just what she had been looking for.

Ten years on, Loughran is qualified to do the treatment, now called Rejuvanessence, and has 45 therapists around the country spreading the word that a facial lift does not mean painful surgery. The mechanics of the treatment make sense. We each have a set of 91 muscles that hold up the head and neck and create every facial expression. Every expression uses a certain set of muscles - when we smile, when we cry, and so on, and prolonged use of particular muscle "formations" can affect the face. It is common for men and women to develop laughter-lines as the face ages, but, Loughran explains, "We are more likely to develop lines because of worry, anger, guilt or grieving." To prove the point, she has a diagram showing each muscle formation and the way it affects the face - and it's scary.

I heard about this treatment through my mother, Elizabeth, an holistic nutritionist. It was the only treatment that appealed to her, simply because its methods do not interfere with the natural way the body works. There are no electric currents, no collagen injections and no harmful toxins, just a gentle, relaxing massage which correctly re-positions and lifts the face and neck muscles. "I almost fell asleep it was so soothing," she says.

The first treatment includes a detailed lifestyle and nutrition questionnaire. With each subsequent trip (Loughran recommends six one-hour sessions, costing pounds 330, followed by top-up treatments) the sessions become more intense as the massages become deeper. On her second visit, two weeks later, my mother was surprised that Loughran was concentrating on the skull, forehead and eyes, but soon understood that each area had to be worked on. "I felt more aware of my face than ever, and realising that the stresses of daily life show on your face made me think about ways to reduce that stress and live in a healthier way," she says. She had intended the treatment to be an exercise in relaxation more than anything else, but she really did look younger afterwards. "My friends kept saying, 'you're looking bright and sparkly', and the good thing was I felt bright and sparkly, too."

Loughran says many women can't believe the difference rejuvenating the facial muscles can make. "Most of my clients come to me because they want to do something for themselves. They have worked, brought up their children and suddenly find themselves hitting the menopause. You see," she explains conspiratorially," the ageing process accelerates after the menopause."

Most of her clients are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, but some are men, and an undisclosed proportion are models. They each gain in different ways, but the main benefit is increased muscle elasticity. If you work your arms at the gym they will firm up, the same principle applies to the face.

The way we live is a bigger cause of ageing than most of us would like to admit. Smoking causes premature wrinkling, as does over-exposure to the sun. Not drinking enough water and bad nutrition are crimes many of us commit. A visit to Loughran will give you enough vigour to give a healthy overhaul some serious thought. The results don't happen overnight by any means, but it is the healthiest way to improve how you look.

It also requires serious dedication - so, for some lazy masochists, a painful pounds 4,000 operation might be quicker.

For information about Rejuvanessence available, call Margareta Loughran at Belle Vue Lodge on 0171 352 8458.

GIVE YOURSELF A (NON-SURGICAL) LIFT

1 CACI

CACI stands for Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument, pronounced Kay- Cee. Micro-currents of electricity are applied to the different muscles via various sized rods and probes to tone up the facial muscles, decrease visible lines and dark circles and encourage cell-renewal. CACI also offers a wide range of body treatments, including anti-cellulite and softening of caesarean scars. Each session lasts up to 55 minutes and costs from pounds 35 to pounds 55. A course of 10 treatments is recommended, followed by top- up sessions every two months. For your nearest salon, call 0171 435 1554.

2 CLARINS

The French beauty company founded by Jacques Courtin-Clarins has been selling its potions for 40 years. Clarins offers two products to instantly firm up the face. The first, Beauty Flash Balm (pounds 18.50 for 50ml), is an old favourite with models and girls-about-town. Once on, it has the effect of tightening up the face. It should be used in conjunction with make- up, because the two combined can create a radiant look, which is good for a bit of a lift. Skin Firming Concentrate (pounds 27.50 for 30ml), is another instant-firming product, but this one has a cumulative effect and contains vitamins A, E, and B. For your nearest stockist, call 0171 629 2979.

3 BIO-THERAPEUTIC

The second of the electronic, non-surgical, face-lift companies on the market, which used to work in tandem with CACI, Bio-Therapeutics uses a different machine to CACI, but its claims are much the same - increased circulation, face firming, cell renewal and skin revitalisation. There are 640 salons nationwide offering the technique. A course of 12 treatments, followed by a monthly top-up, is recommended, and sessions cost from pounds 25 each, with a discount on courses. For your local salon, call 01926 633020.

4 CRYSTAL CLEAR

The latest treatment to hit the beauty market (about a year old), it is being endorsed by actresses Patsy Kensit and Gillian Taylforth. The treatment involves skin abrasion, using thousands of microscopic crystals, and is the cosmetic equivalent to sandblasting. Having said that it is quite a gentle treatment and has a cumulative effect. By taking off the surface layer of skin, it removes the dead skin cells and any fine lines and also softens scar tissue. It was invented by a Liverpudlian beauty therapist called Sharon Hilditch and is gaining in popularity by the week. Treatments cost from pounds 35 and are available in 150 salons across the country. To achieve the best results, Hilditch recommends a course of 10 treatments, followed by regular top-ups. For your nearest salon, call 01926 633020.

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