Back in the day when needles were thick and anaesthetic creams took hours to work, I was one of Botox’s early adopters/guinea pigs. Persuaded to do it for a newspaper article, I think it was Joan Rivers and I who were first over the botulism barricade. That was more than 15 years ago and I remember it being very painful and rather unpleasant. I do, however, remember waiting with intense fascination for my forehead to slowly but surely became totally immobile.
The result was simian to say the least. My eyebrows dropped and my brow became very heavy and thick. I looked really quite Neanderthal, like I might have been closely related to The Cowell. And of course everyone had an opinion. “How can you put poison in your face?” asked my concerned friends. “How can you consider plastic surgery – it’s barbaric?” asked my PC friends (actually make that my one PC friend). “What the hell have you done to yourself? I hope that isn’t permanent?" Asked my mother. “It makes you look stupid,” she added for good measure. “And sweaty.”
And, as ever, she was right. There is nothing worse than bad Botox. The amount of times I have sat opposite girlfriends whose shiny foreheads are so obviously frozen, and have had to pretend not to notice their inability to emote a single thought, doesn’t bear counting. I remember one friend whose eyebrows were raised in such a terrible state of startled alarm, she looked like she was permanently sitting on a drawing pin. She looked awful, which I am sure, was not her original intention.
Now that there is a Botoxeria on every street corner, the shiny frozen Minogue forehead is everywhere. It proclaims to anyone who cares to look that its owner has had Botox! They are looking after themselves! And they can the afford £250 price tag! Much like ginormous breast enlargements, like watermelons in a condom, that we Brits also favour – the Botox forehead has become a bit of TOWIE status symbol.
But that is not to say, when done well, by someone who really knows what they are actually doing – Botox isn’t bloody marvellous! Vicky Dondos at Medicetics on Connaught Street, W1, is one such person. A trained facial surgeon (she could put your face back together if you went through a windscreen), she knows exactly where to put her new extra thin American needles.
“What expressions do you actually want?” she asks, snapping on her rubber gloves.
“I’d like to smile.”
“Hmm,” she replies, flicking her syringe.
“Eer, what do you think?”
Asking a slim, glamorous younger woman in charge of a lot of injectables what is wrong with your face is not, let me tell you, the road to happiness.
“Well,” she starts. “You have lines, here, here and here. You have the classic barcode across the top lip from smoking. You’re losing volume in your lips, particularly the bottom one, which is common in the over 40s, especially if you are a white Caucasian. You’ve got bunny lines either side of your nose from wrinkling up your face and, of course, you’ve got the tramline frown. As well as crow's here and here and some drooping here...”
“Can you fix it?”
“Yes I can.”
Much like Bob The Builder, Vicky reaches in to her toolbox and brings out the glue, the cement and the Polyfilla. It takes about 25 not entirely pain-free minutes before she is finished.
“There,” she says, handing me a mirror for me to inspect my rather pink-pricked face. “It’ll be fine once it’s calmed down a bit.”
A few days later it’s more than fine. It looks really rather good. There is no drooping or thickening and I look neither shocked, nor surprised, although I can emote both. Last week I walked into a room and a very charming man proclaimed. “Gosh, Imogen, you do look well!” To which I casually smiled and just about managed to raise an eyebrow.