Interest in “moisture jabs” has been building in the beauty community for some time – but what are they? With Juvederm’s Volite treatment finally available to the Australian market Ruby Feneley tried Volite and chatted with leading plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Liew about the changing nature of cosmetic procedures and the importance of beautiful skin.
As an ex-makeup artist, I’ve spent a significant portion of my life looking at fillers. Or, to be more accurate, faces filled with filler. In Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs for women aged 18-70 fillers and botox are the norm. And working in the beauty industry, I feel like something of an old maid amongst my friends and colleagues for having not reached for a needle yet. Talking to my friend about $500 serum I was lusting after she rolled her eyes “OR you could just get botox Ruby”. And she could roll her eyes! And raise her eyebrows! She looks great and if she hadn’t told me I would never have known her under-eyes, lips, nose, and forehead had all benefitted from a jab or three.
So why am I so nervous? Very simply, I’ve seen more bad jobs and generic faces than I have good ones. And Dr. Steven Liew, founder and medical director of Shape Clinic, agrees.
Dr. Liew was the first Australian to gain admittance as a fellow in plastic surgery at the world renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute in New York. He is considered a pioneer in non-surgical procedures internationally. He says, “I think there is an abuse of fillers and botox at the moment. There is a trend for an extreme look that creates fear in consumers who are interested in the filler, and could benefit from it, but who want to look natural.”
It is a truism of surgical, and cosmetic treatments as a whole that we only notice the bad jobs, a good job is by its nature, undetectable. While Dr. Liew is passionate about the benefits of filler, he feels that celebrity influence has seen consumers shopping for facial features that are not sympathetic to their own facial structure. He says he spends a lot of time talking patients out of “extreme” options, especially with younger patients who are more likely to adopt the “I’ll have what she’s having mentality” and regret it later. In a “fast-filler” culture where you can get a quick jab while you’re having your bikini line lasered, it’s easy to think that fillers and botox don’t require the expertise or attention to detail that invasive surgical treatments do.
But what if you don’t like the results? A friend of mine had filler injected into her under eyes only to find it made them puffy. It took almost a year for the results to degrade and the laser clinic said she would have to pay for it to be corrected. There was nothing wrong with the job they had done; it just didn’t suit her face shape, which they didn’t see as their problem.
Speaking to Steven Liew and hearing about the care he takes with his patients – guiding them through options to select a look that is flattering and unique to them it is clear there is nothing better than going to an experienced doctor.
Skin Is In: Volite Is Bringing Focus Back to Healthy Skin
Dr. Liew is happy to see the pendulum swinging away from celebrity and towards optimal skin health. “The biggest trend is skin – a focus on skin quality and skin protection.” Dr. Liew says there is more interest than ever on prevention rather than cure, something he terms “pre-juvination”. This is were treatments like Volite are changing the market. Volite sits somewhere between anti-aging treatment and filler. It is made of hyaluronic acid – an ingredient that retains 1000x its water. Hyaluronic acid can be found in pretty much any treatment in your bathroom cabinet that claims to hydrate the skin. It is also a molecule that is naturally found in the human body, but that degrades as we age. Hyaluronic acid is used in all Juvederm filler – and is widely considered the safest and most natural looking product. Where Volite differs is the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid.
Dr. Liew explains. “All HA is not the same size. There are different molecular weights and particle sizes – within the Allergan group, we describe them as “heavy” and “light.” Heavy Hyaluronic acid is the kind that we would place close to the bone, to create a projection – for example, to create a cheekbone or correct the shape of a nose. Intermediate is what we use to fill. This new, fine grade supports the availability of moisture in the skin – it can be placed more shallowly and doesn’t change the structure of the face at all.”
I have been a hearing buzz about “internal moisturizers” for years – magic elixirs that create reservoirs of hydration beneath the skin. For several years, however, these treatments have only been available in Europe (perhaps that’s what’s up with French women’s immaculate complexions). When I heard it had arrived on Australian shores I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Dr. Liew believes Volite provides more options for consumers who are focused on skin health, rather than “anti-aging,” and that it will enable clients who are already using dermal fillers to access a more holistic treatment plan. He says that when it comes to the latter group, clients have been missing out. For these consumers, “there is volume and structure there, but they feel their skin quality is lacking.” Dr. Liew shows me before and after images of an existing client, a Caucasian woman in her early fifties. The client regularly received fillers and botox and underwent Volite treatment. In the before picture, the client’s skin was smooth but, tellingly, a little dull. In the after it looked as if a light had been switched on beneath the surface. Her face had been imbued with a glow and freshness that made the smoothness of her features more believable – as if a result of genetics rather than cosmetic intervention.
Dr. Liew is passionate about filler – while he performs plastic surgery he said working with filler is like being a sculptor – “but the canvas for that work is the skin – if the canvas is not good your work is redundant.” In this way, he sees the relationship between cosmetic fillers and skin health much the same way a makeup artist sees makeup and skin – no amount of makeup can improve texture. You simply can’t fake healthy skin. And healthy skin is a critical issue for Australians who are exposed to hundreds of times more sun damage before the age of forty than individuals in America and Europe. This is why Dr. Liew prioritizes conversations about skincare with clients. The “slip, slop, slap campaign was incredibly effective at educating people about the need for sun protection. We need to speak and think about all skincare in a similar way.”
For this reason, Steven sees Volite as a separate category to fillers and botox. Volite, he says, “Improves the health of the skin, full stop. Some patients will only ever do Volite. Some will see it as part of a pathway. And some will slot it into their existing treatment plan.”
With that in mind, I embarked on my Volite journey!
The Volite Experience
As if to test the treatment, my skin was particularly ragged pre-Volite. I had just spent an accumulated 60+ hours flying in under a week, washing my face with hard European water in between. Returning to Sydney, my cheeks were red, dry, and covered in rough little bumps (dry skin person breakouts).
When I arrived at the clinic, my skin was cleansed, and a numbing cream was applied. I then sat for some barefaced portraits that would provide comparative analysis.
Dr. Liew’s expert Shape Clinic nurse Kimberley Allen administered the treatment. With a masters in nursing, Kimberly has been practicing at Shape Clinics for over a decade. A former intensive care nurse Kimberley was extremely knowledgable about pre-and-post surgical care and was able to fill me in on all the “musts” and “must-nots” (no alcohol or vigorous exercise 24 hours after the appointment and no makeup or sunscreen for 12). Volite treatment involves a series of shallow injections. The discomfort ranged “can barely feel it” around my jaw area and definite “ouch” on more prominent areas like the cheekbones. The hardest sensation for me to get used to, however, was the feeling of liquid moving under the skin. If you haven’t had filler injected before beware, it is a little strange!
I am blessed with a reactive, alabaster, Celtic complexion so while I had read tales of zero redness post-treatment I knew this wasn’t going to be me. I also take fish oil every day, which thins the blood and can enhance the risk of bruising. That said, other than redness and a small bruise on my jaw there was not much to complain about. Following the treatment, it is best to avoid makeup or sunscreen for a few hours. I skipped it for the rest of the day, and despite FEELING very red, nobody noticed a difference. Within a day the redness was unnoticeable with light makeup.
In terms of effect? Immediately I could see a diminishment in the fine, dehydration lines around my mouth, and my skin felt plumper. Within a day, the red, dry area on my lower cheek had entirely disappeared. Pretty impressive. Dr. Liew recommends a two-week wait before you see the full benefits of Volite. However, within a week a felt my makeup was applying more smoothly – one of the issues that constantly plague me is makeup gathering throughout the day on dry areas. Two weeks in my skin is holding up against the ravages of winter – I find it is less tight in the mornings after my night time retinol treatments and that without makeup there is a “lit from within glow.” It has reduced some fine lines I usually have on my face. Fine lines are exacerbated by dehydration, so it makes sense that Volite would have a positive effect on them.
So what are this filler-ingenues final thoughts?
As you can see in the above images, my skin was looking pretty flat and dull pre-Volite. Duller than usual in fact. The Volite treatment has not only given my complexion a mega-watt glow boost, but it’s also actually evened out my skin tone!
What You Need To Know
Who is Volite Good for?
Consumers who want to increase their hydration levels and improve the texture and quality of their skin (ahem, anyone). It is suitable as a compliment to other aesthetic treatments and can also be used on its own.
Who is Volite not good for?
Contraindicators follow the same contraindicators for any injectable treatment. It is not advisable to undergo a Volite treatment if you are pregnant. It is also not advisable to receive injections if there is an active infection in the area being injected. Keep in mind that “infection” encompasses conditions like acne. Dr. Liew also said that he would consult with anyone who had a previous adverse (infection or otherwise) to an injectable treatment.
Pre-and-Post Treatment Tips:
I, personally, would advise stopping any fish oil supplement a fortnight before treatment. As it is a blood thinner, stopping the supplement will allow your skin to bounce back from treatment more quickly. The same goes for Vitamin-E and painkillers like Nurofen. Avoid alcohol at least 24 hours before and after your appointment.
No vigorous exercise for forty-eight hours following the treatment. This is to minimize the risk of bruising.
Avoid any skin thinners like retinol and AHA and BHA at least forty eight hours before receiving treatment and avoid deep chemical peels for two weeks and ablative laser peels for one month.
I strongly recommend, for any filler, seeing an experienced Doctor. The cost may be more than your laser clinic, but they will be able to answer any questions you have before and after the treatment and you will have the confidence of knowing that you are speaking with a qualified, experienced practitioner, not a salesperson. Dr. Liew and his expert, industry renown nurse Kimberley Allen both assured me that if I had any issues I could reach out to them directly via email. Fortunately, I didn’t but it was nice to know and I felt confident receiving treatment from two experts in the field who are passionate about what they do.
To find out more about Juvederm Volite read up on the Allergan website or contact Shape Clinic for a consultation with their specialists. For information about how you can boost your skins hydration topically, read our top tips for Winter skin!