Shot of Sleep, Straight Up

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Before

I’ve heard people talk about something called sleep. I believe it’s something I used to do before children and the weight of the world got the better of me.  I try my best with make-up and what can only be described as industrial grade concealer to hide the stress and lack of sleep that has taken residence under my eyes.  With bags big enough to hold all my luggage and dark circles that would be the envy of most raccoons there is only so much a mere cosmetic can be expected to do.  I have tried all the light reflecting magic, miracle potions out there and don’t get me wrong they can make a difference up to a point.  But, the 24/7 hustle of being a working mum who’s building a brand, writing as well as 9 to 5’ing takes a toll.

I am obviously very open minded when it comes to aesthetics and plastics. So, when I learned about the use of fillers to treat Tear Troughs, the area around the eyes, I was more than intrigued.  Now, don’t get me wrong the idea of having a filler, in this case Teosyal injected into the eye socket sounds a bit frightening. However, I was incredibly lucky to have had a Teoxane Trainer carrying out my treatment.

Dr Linea Strachan is trained dentist, but has been doing aesthetics for nearly 10 years.  She is the clinical director of A&L Clinics, which is one of the best and busiest cosmetic clinics in Suffolk. Luckily for me she has recently started running a clinic from Harley Street.  She is the teacher for intermediate and advanced filler techniques for Teoxane UK.  Dr Strachan is an award winning practitioner having won in two categories in facial aesthetics in the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2016.

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Before

I met Dr Strachan in Harley Street on the day of the treatment. As a rule of thumb people will often tell you that the best way to judge someone’s aesthetic skill is by looking at them.  Well Dr Strachan is certainly an amazing advert for her work.  She is as brilliant as she is stunning.  Following in intensive consultation and taking a set of before photos she explained that she would be using a new bit of technology for the treatment called a Teosyalpen.  It is basically an electronic dispenser that distributes the filler into the area being treated.  Dr Strachan first put in a small cannula which was then attached to the Teosyalpen.  I have had filler on many occasions and even with a numbing cream there is often a sting.  Not overly painful but usually enough to cause the eyes water a bit.  But, with the pen there was literally nothing.  I did not have any numbing cream and the only thing I felt was the tinniest scratch when the cannula was put in and just a bit of vibration as the teosyal went into the tear trough.  This was hands down the least painful treatment I have ever had.  It took no more than 15 minutes per side and the results were instant.  Because of the technique Dr Strachan uses there was no bruising and I couldn’t even see the entry point from the needle.

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After

Following the procedure you look like you have just come out of a week long nap! I was in awe of the difference.  There was minimal swelling which was pretty much gone within the week.  No down time whatsoever and a result that lasts up to a year.  Seriously, what’s not to love?

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After

Time for a safety lecture and some words of caution about this and all aesthetic treatments. A tear trough should not under any circumstances be administered by a non-medically trained practitioner!  Now I realise there are a number of people who are happy to be injected with any number of things by beauticians, I am not one of them.  Every single one of these procedures have the ability to cause serious and life altering side effects in the wrong hands.  Prior to any procedure an extensive consultation should be carried out to ensure you are suitable and safe to have the treatment. In addition the person injecting you should have the training to deal with complications should they arise.  I know a “bit of filler” seems like no bid deal.  But, if you were to have an allergic reaction to it does that beautician injecting you in the backroom of a salon have the medical training to deal with an anaphylactic shock? Will basic life support even be something he or she is trained in much less the injection of adrenaline in an emergency.   I say this as a nurse not just a blogger. These are things you need to consider when undertaking a “bit of a tweak”.   Beauticians are amazing at their jobs and in no way am I putting down their skills for “beauty treatments”. Injecting chemicals into the skin though done for non-medical reasons are still medical procedures and should be respected as that.   I believe that aesthetic treatments should be regulated in such a way as to make it illegal for anyone other than medically trained professionals to inject them.  With the treatment of your Tear Troughs in particular the experience and education of your practitioner is absolutely your number one priority.

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A Clockwork Orange Peel

Cellulite!!  Ugh!  It is not even a pretty word.  A bit like moist, every time I hear it I just cringe!  First of all everyone has a bit of cellulite at one point or another.  But, unfortunately I have it all the time.  Primarily because I spent the majority of my life morbidly obese, cellulite is the price I have to pay for my years of gluttony. Although I have lost a huge amount of weight and have had reconstructive surgery for loose skin, the cellulite in one form or another remains.

I have tried lotions, potions and various notions.  Short of voodoo I have yet to find a miracle.  Now I am sure you have heard of the various anti-cellulite tights and leggings.  There are several companies that make them, all with very ambitious claims about “impregnated” fabric and that they sacrifice a live chicken in the factory to ensure your positive results.  Ok, I made that last bit up!! But, you see where I am going.  There are some very grand claims out there for what is often a very mediocre product.   As some of these products are very expensive, the last thing you want is to spend £200 on what ends being a pair of lazy pants you wear on the school run.

I am very much a believer in finding those special treasures in places you would not normally look.  I love the idea of trying something from a lesser known company as often they have something super special, but perhaps the world hasn’t discovered them yet.  I met this amazing and very inspiring entrepreneur Fabia Santos at a plastic surgery conference.  Her company called Yoga Compression Garments was not one I had heard of before, but her belief and dedication to her products hooked me right in.  I wasn’t sure why at the time, but she was definitely someone I wanted to know better.  There was the added bonus I suppose because it is a Brazilian company I thought if anyone in the world is going to know how to make your ass look good, it’s going to be them!

Over the course of researching the products what I learned was that in addition to the leggings which I will get to later, Fabia has dedicated herself to helping women going through reconstructive surgeries.  She attends hospitals herself to ensure post surgical garments are fitted properly and educates medical staff on the importance of garment fitting in the healing process.  I suppose this resonated with me because I have been in the position of trying to get myself into post surgery garments that in retrospect did more harm than good.  One very ill-fitting corset I had following abdominoplasty  I referred to as “the juicer”.  The second I put it on my clothes were soaked with the excess drainage.  So, the work she does is an integral part of the healing process for women that are already feeling quite vulnerable following life changing operations that are not always cosmetic.  As a professional Fabia is someone who really “walks the talk”.

The leggings are called The Yoga Emana.  They absorb heat from the body and return in the form of “long infrared rays”.  The rays are then absorbed into the skin and stimulate circulation and cellular metabolism.  The leggings contain bio-active crystals and so these properties are not lost when they are washed.  Amongst the many benefits that are purported:

Increased cellular metabolism
Increased skin elasticity
Reducing the appearance of cellulite
Thermal equilibrium
Reduction of muscle fatigue

So, with my magic leggings in hand I was off to try them myself in hopes of conquering these beastly dimples! Putting aside that they are meant to benefit you by wearing them, as a product they are beautiful and really flattering.  The instructions are that you are to wear them 12 hours a day.  I must say this was easy as they go with everything and really give you a beautiful shape.  They are so comfortable, yet hold everything in as well as pushing that excess junk in the trunk up perfectly.

The initial trial is meant to show results within weeks.  As I have particularly bad cellulite I took before pictures over six weeks.  The results were everything that was promised.  There was a marked difference in the smoothness of the skin and I definitely found the dimpling in my upper thighs in particular to have reduced.

Although I was primarily trialling them in order to ascertain the anti-cellulite properties I did actually find that there was a marked difference in how my legs felt following a run when wearing them.  So, there is definitely something too the claims about reducing fatigue.  From day one I was able to pack more punch into a workout wearing my Emana’s.  All in all the trial was extremely successful.  I can’t recommend them enough.  They retail for £95, which is a reasonable price for leggings that deliver the goods.  They remain in my normal rotation as my go to workout wear as well as sneaking them under other garments as a much more comfortable option to your standard “suck in your gut” pants.  An all around great product from a fabulous company.

 

The Anti-Ageing Matrix

20999_954452254605038_1864708531383285239_nOk, so I am the first to admit I am really rubbish with skin regimes.  I do use moisturisers, eye creams, serums, etc.  But, I am a terrible cheat and have a difficult time sticking to one product line.  I am a bit of a “player” in the realm of skin care.  I may use an Estee Lauder eye cream with a Lidl moisturiser or a tub of Astral with a super posh tube of retinol.  You know what it’s like right?  Busy Mum skin care and all that?  It is about convenience and what I have to hand at times.  My priorities aren’t about me.  So, sadly my skin ends up being a bit of a mash up of products.  But, I decided as a middle aged woman my skin needed something a bit more intense.  Following a conversation with the Super Skincare Diva that is Lorna Bowes of Aesthetic Source, I would make a commitment to follow a specific regime and see if it truly made a difference in my skin.  Lorna recommended Neo Strata’s “Skin Active” Intensive Eye Therapy, Bionic Skin Cream, “Restore” Matrix Support Moisturiser and Facial Cleanser.

I used the Intensive Eye Therapy and Bionic Skin Cream at night and the Matrix Support which has an SPF of 30 during the day.  Both the Bionic and Matrix Support had a beautiful creamy texture that absorbed into my skin beautifully.  The first thing I noticed using the day products is that my need for a make-up primer quickly became unnecessary.  The Matrix Moisturiser was enough to make my foundation go on smoothly, whilst at the same time not leaving my face feeling like an oil slick.  It is so difficult in your 40’s as with many products they make the assumption that you are a dried up old prune that needs to be slathered in oil. But, that is absolutely not the case.  In fact I am still prone to the occasional breakout with the wrong combination of products.

The Bionic Skin Cream left my skin feeling so smooth at night and I never woke up with that icky product residue that you get with other night creams.  I love the Intensive Eye Cream.  It absorbed quickly and never irritated my skin.  The best part was the reduction in those tiny lines (I am not saying crows-feet).   Luckily Neo Strata knows what women need on their skin!  This combination left my skin dewy and I have noticed a marked difference in my lines. Oh God did I actually refer to my lines again?  Oh the humanity!!  But, in all seriousness my forehead in particular is looking much better and I am seriously past my Botox’s expiration date.  So, the change cannot be put down to a needle!   My skin as a whole from keeping on this regime for three solid months is amazing.  I am definitely a convert to using a proper skin care routine.

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Neo Strata are certainly on the cutting edge of anti-ageing skin care.  They are nominated in several categories in the My Face, My Body Awards and The Aesthetic Awards 2015 It is not difficult to see why.  I am looking forward to trying their Skin Active Triple Lifting Neck cream next!

Fract or Fiction

Just when I thought I had tried it all in my ongoing effort to “opt-out” of the ageing process I was invited to visit the clinic of Dr Daniel Sister to try a treatment called Fractora. When I explain it, you may think I have gone a bit bonkers.  Fractora uses Radio Frequency (RF) energy to the skin through the tiny pins producing localized heat and small “micro-lesion dots” in the areas that are treated. The heat and “dots” promotes collagen regrowth, which rejuvenates and re-structures the skin  In other words they use a probe with lots of little needles sticking out of it to poke tiny holes in your skin whilst simultaneously heating it, causing the skins natural healing process to firm and re-vitalise areas that are lined and need toning.  The idea is that by treating areas that need firming the body’s natural healing process will tone sagging lacklustre skin as the body produces more collagen in the treated areas.

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Before

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After (current)

I had the treatment over my face and neck.  My primary area of concern was around my neck.  Where I have lost so much weight my neck has a distinct lack of tone and is something I am quite self-conscious about.  So, the promise of this area being tightened without surgery is quite the incentive to try the treatment.   Fractora can be used all over the body including legs and stomach.  It can treat a range of age and related skin conditions.  Such as; fine lines, deep lines, rough skin texture, irregular pigment, visible blood vesicles and uneven pigmentation. Though it is not necessarily just for the signs of aging as anyone can suffer from rough uneven tone.

Due to the nature of how the treatment is carried out a local anaesthetic cream is applied over the face 30-45 minutes prior to the treatment.  There is an element of mild pain to the treatment.  However, it is completely manageable.  I would describe it as a quick stinging/burning feeling at the point the needles and RF makes contact with the skin.  But, it goes away instantly.  There is no lingering pain following the procedure. The whole treatment took around 20-30 minutes.  My skin looked quite red and sore following the treatment.  But, there was no pain during the healing process.  I was advised to use a heavy barrier cream following the treatment in order to protect the skin where it was open and healing. No make-up could be worn for 48 hours whilst the treated areas closed to prevent infection.

one hour post Fractora

one hour post Fractora

24 hours post treatment

24 hours post treatment

3 days post treatment

3 days post treatment

Although the treatment does not have any specific downtime, my face was visibly sore and raw looking straight after.  It is definitely a treatment worth doing.  However, if you are someone who likes to be discrete about treatments this maybe one to have on a Friday to give your skin a day or two to settle.  The difference in redness is significant even the following day.  I did have what I would describe as stamp marks from the pins.  However, any residual marks were easily covered with make-up once I was able to wear it.

It can take months for the full effect of Fractora to be seen.  I am several months post treatment and can see a definite difference in my neck area. The general tone of my skin has improved as well as a reduction in fine lines. This was obviously after one treatment.  However, depending on the nature of your skin, you may require a series of treatments for the most dramatic effect.  This is definitely a treatment to consider before resorting to surgery.

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After (current)

For more information or to find out who your nearest practitioner contact  http://www.invasix.com/

Hiding the Evidence…

YouTube - Mel - YouTube - Google Chrome.mp4_snapshot_00.37_[2015.02.27_13.04.51]To say my body has been through the wars is probably a huge understatement.  The combined damage done to the very structure that holds everything together has been inflated and deflated within an inch of bursting on multiple occasions over the last 30 years.  The final deflation being the 12 stone I lost in the 18 months following my Gastric Plication that freed my damaged shell from super morbid obesity.  Following that there was the amazing rebuild that took place at the hands of Paul Baguley.  Having been an amazing transformation I could hardly complain about the scarring that this type of massive reconstruction leaves.  In many ways they were the battle scars, the physical proof of my history reminder of all the work I had put into changing my body so dramatically.

11418262_10153464841360955_593986283_nI wasn’t overly concerned about them initially.  To be fair the scars were neat and tidy and only noticeable at certain angles. I was so happy to have been liberated from the prison of skin that I had been encased in the scars rarely entered my radar. However, they were there and over time I had begun to look at them as the last bit of evidence of what a poor steward I had been over this body.  I thought about it and did some research.  It appeared that for the most part the recommendations were limited to various oils and silicone patches to lighten and flatten them.  Nothing particularly dramatic, but it would seem that would be what I would have to settle for.

11324103_10153464841345955_929175080_nRecently I was approached by Dr Daniel Sister, who I had heard of previously.  He is a pioneer in anti-ageing treatments with his method of Dracula Therapy™.  This procedure involves taking a vile of your own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge in order to separate the red blood cells from the clear serum and platelets.  The platelets are then injected into the skin, normally the face in order to reduce the signs of ageing. The injections encourage DNA repair thus, making the skin appear more youthful and rejuvenated.  Dr Sister was looking into how this treatment could be used to reduce the appearance of scars.  Obviously, knowing who Dr Sister was I jumped at the chance to work with him.

11418315_10153464841330955_1993958428_nI travelled to Dr Sisters London clinic, Beauty Works West for a consultation.  Due to the amount of surgery I previously had Dr Sister certainly had his work cut out for him.  But, knowing his amazing reputation I was in great hands.  He started by explaining to me how the procedure would work. He would take a small amount of my blood and spin it in the centrifuge and then re-inject the clear serum back into the scars in order to stimulate the body into repairing itself.

The injections themselves were almost pain free.  I don’t believe I even flinched once.  The truly outstanding thing was that the following day there was already a difference in the scars.  I was blown away at how dramatically they changed.  Over the following weeks what had been quite pink in places became lighter and flatter. The results have been miraculous.  For me this has been unbelievable and further increased my confidence as it means I get less looks and awkward questions as for the most part my scars are no longer visible.

However, as ecstatic as I am with the results it is particularly important to consider how life changing the Dracula Therapy™ could be for someone with extensive facial scarring. This treatment is certainly a game changer to say the least.

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DeVirgination Part 2

11266633_10153383653705955_1719984422_oWith my foray into botox still fresh in my mind I started thinking about all the interventions available to make you feel and look younger.  What is the thing that makes a particular face look younger?

Obviously, with my collagen banks becoming ever increasingly deficient I went to work in accessing all of the procedures that can make a face look more youthful.  Okay, I hear you!!  Why can’t she accept the aging process as it as and just grow old gracefully?  Just accept who you are and move on…What on earth does all this have to do with the weight loss journey?  Yes, I have heard them all.  But, I do have an answer to this, which may or may not satisfy the curiosity of those who do not understand why the aesthetics side of my journey is so important to me.

I have been fat my whole life, I spent all of the years that any normal young person would have been out having fun inside feeling sorry for myself, feeling sorry for the life I was somehow not entitled to lead because I was so big.  So, having finally reclaimed the body I always wanted is it not ok to long for the youth I was denied by trapping myself under the ultimate fat suit?

So, no I will not be growing old gracefully.  If there are interventions whether nutritional, pharmaceutical, injectable or surgical I will try them.  I will of course share the results with everyone here.  Because, I have a huge amount of time to make up for!

11281107_10153383664275955_880154184_oNow that my relationship with Botox had turned into a full-fledged love affair it was only natural that I was thinking about experimenting with other injectables.  Dr Joney De Souza being the amazing practitioner that he is had done the most spectacular job with my face.  Although the botox was in three areas, his approach ensured that my face was youthful, but also very natural.  This is what you want to achieve, a face that still has some movement. Something you can only get from someone that is a genuine expert in the field.

When I saw him again I expressed that I felt my lips had lost some of their youthful volume in recent years and I would like to have a sexier pout in general. He explained that by using a filler to enhance them I could achieve not just a more youthful look, but it would also give me that full symmetrical set of lips that would enhance my profile as well.

11281577_10153383655690955_125182373_oSo, once again I would be on the receiving side of Dr De Souza’s expert needle.  Like all of us I have seen the aftermath of those who have sadly ended up with the dreaded “trout pout”.  Anytime you discuss having a lip enhancement inevitably you get the usual comments about looking like Pete Burns.  But, this is where finding a good injector is vital.  You need to trust the person implicitly with your face.  Unfortunately, if it is done poorly and without care you will have to live with the consequences.

A good injector is not going unload massive amounts of filler into your lips.  They should inject your lips with a conservative amount of filler in the initial appointment as you will have swelling right after 11281517_10153383654450955_1100907017_oso will not be able to get an accurate view of the enhancement for a couple of days.  In the following weeks they should have you return for any tweaks you may want.  After my first appointment I was floored by the results.  It was subtle yet dramatic at the same time.  Truly finished off the amazing work he had already done using botox.  I am incredibly pleased with the results and would definitely consider myself a convert to injectable aesthetic procedures.   The results that can be achieved are amazing and if you are looking for a procedure that will give you a great result that have lower financial and physical investment injectable treatments are absolutely the way forward.  I could not be more pleased with Dr De Souza’s amazing work.

For more information about the brilliant work of Dr De Souza visit his website http://www.drjoneydesouza.com/

Hidden Gems

white_multi_clear_background_grandeIn February I attended the ultimate beauty event.  Professional Beauty 2015 at the Excel in London.  It is a show that brings out the biggest and the brightest that the industry has on offer.  There were the amazing displays put on by the big boys like Clarins, Fake Bake, OPI, etc.  But, tucked at the back were the up and comers.  They don’t have the big budgets and some are no more then a table display and a business plan.  That is what is so special about these events, it gives you the opportunity to see what is happening on the ground floor of beauty.

I was gifted an amazing array of products and am yet to even make a dent in trying many of them.  But, as I was going through my bag of fabulousness I came across a small jar of Terre Verdi Multitasking Cream.   I was looking for something to out on my very delicate and red skin following an intense beauty treatment.  This gorgeous balm was just the remedy.  It is gorgeous!  The texture in the jar has an almost grainy like texture.  But, when you put it on your skin it melts straight in.  You need the tiniest amount per use, so a jar would last ages.  I used it on my face, hands, feet and body.  It instantly makes your skin feel like silk.  The smell is a bit citrus and not at all overpowering.  The product is made with Calendula, Argan and Shea Butter.  This is definitely going into permanent skin rotation particularly as we come up to summer.  It would make a great after sun cream to keep your skin silky soft.

Time to break up

Dear Carbs,

This is a very difficult letter to write.  But, I am afraid I can’t see you anymore.  Please do not try to stop me.  You know I love everything about you.  Your golden skin tone and the amazing way you smell. From that caramel glow you sometimes have to your beautiful full bodied durum wheat texture.  You are at times like sex on a plate.  Do you remember the week we spent in Florence?  It was all pizza and pasta, I was younger than.  Those were the good times my gorgeous Carbs.  But, there have been bad times too, like the profiterole incident.  All that pastry seemed like a lovely idea at the time, but it made me so ill.  It seems like there are more bad times than good these days.

If you really care about me, you would want me to be healthy.   I cannot resist you and that is the problem.  I know this will be a huge shock for you and I understand you are probably hurt by my words.  Please know it is not you, it is me.  I have become to dependant on you and am finding that after we have been together I become bloated and depressed.

I have an addictive personality with a particular penchant for you, my lovely Carb.  It seems I am no longer able to control myself where you are concerned.   So, it is with a heavy heart that I must say goodbye for a while.  I promise to see you as soon as I feel strong enough.  But, for now I need to stop all contact with you for at least a couple of weeks.  When I am feeling better we will have a light lunch.  I will need to reintroduce you into my life slowly when the time is right.  So, I ask you for your patience during this transition.  Please remember I will always love you.

Sincerely,

Mel

Nectar of Youth?

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11079804_10153250643605955_1467114390_nI have been researching collagen drinks for several months.  But, having tried samples here and there I had yet to find one that was palatable enough to commit to drinking a full bottle much less drinking it every day for a month. But, following a chat with Agostina from Skinade at a workshop we both attended I was sold.  I took a hideous no make up selfie the day I started.  Notice the dark circles and general uneven tone in my skin.

First things first, the taste!!  It is gorgeous, not overly sweet and tastes like mango juice.  I really loved the flavour.  In the first week I noticed my skin becoming clearer.  Because it was early days I wasn’t sure if it was the drink or if I was just having a “good skin week”.  But, by week two there was no doubt that the Skinade was definitely having a positive effect on not only the tone of my skin but felt my fine lines were less noticeable.  The sciency bit about Skinade is contains 7000mg of marine collagen (7000mg), calcium ascorbate, MSM, B Complex, flax seed and l-lysine.  The ingredients are meant to increase the elasticity and the natural production of collagen in your skin.
11087010_10153250643390955_877713063_o (1)By the third week my skin had a dewy appearance and the difference in my skin was becoming noticeable to my colleagues. At one point I was even asked if I had recently had any “work” on my face.  Another unexpected and very pleasant surprise is that my hair was shinier and I noticed new hair growth.  As I have particularly thin and fine hair this was a huge bonus.  In fact even my lovely beautician commented that I had a huge amount of lash growth in the last month.

11081388_10153250643535955_1337131390_n (1)By the final week there was no doubt my skin was more even and there was a huge difference in the general tone and appearance.  My skin was firmer and glowing even without my bronzer. There was a visible change in the appearance of fine lines.

If the 30 day course has results like this I can only imagine what a 90 day course would do.   would certainly recommend this product and think it makes an excellent addition to your daily anti-ageing regime.