‘We all love to cheat’
Whether or not it’s your poison, there’s no denying that the treatment - once considered purely ‘celeb territory’ - is seeping into the lives of the every man.
No longer reserved merely for the foreheads of A-listers, ‘the lunchtime procedure’ is fast becoming as common as haircuts and teeth cleaning - but just how far has it spread?
Certainly our first thought isn’t of middle-aged Northerners calling in for a quick wrinkle-ridding injection before heading out for a swift pint at The Wig & Pen. And yet thousands of Sheffielders, of all ages, are paying out hundreds of pounds a year for regular Botox injections, despite the financial strain of a recession.
“Psychological studies tell us that Botox actually does make a person feel better about themselves,” said Cheryl Barton, practitioner at the Aesthetika clinic in Sheffield.
“Which might explain why - despite the fact times are hard financially - patients have told us that Botox is the thing they refuse to go without.
“The number of Botox treatments carried out in the UK now is staggering and it’s continuing to grow.”
And it’s not just those with oodles of cash to spare who are opting for the treatment. Cleaners, engineers, builders, and train conductors are among the ‘regular joes’ in Sheffield who have admitted to turning to the wrinkle-ridding injection in order to slow down the ageing process.
“When I began doing Botox two years ago, I had an idea of the sorts of clients I would get,” admitted nurse Martin Scattergood, of Sheffield clinic Peach Pratice.
“I imagined women in their 50s with a bit of extra cash, but my clients include men and women, supermarket workers, cleaners, railway engineers, financial advisors, prison officers, teachers and stay-at-home mums.
“Some tell everybody what they’ve had done, loud and proud, while others swear me to secrecy.
“I’ve met clients for consultations in coffee shops and shopping malls all over Sheffield so that their families won’t know - it’s a bit like working for the MI5 at times!”
One of Botox’s more famous users, Simon Cowell, has described it as ‘no more unusual than toothpaste,’ - but what is it actually?
First of all, Botox is a brand name, like Hoover or Biro, for the product botulinum toxin. The toxin - a poison - works by blocking the chemical that is reponsible for transmitting the electrical impulses that cause muscle contraction. When injected into the facial muscles, this temporarily improves the appearance of frown lines and crows’ feet.
Surprisingly, despite the hype of recent years, Botox is far from a newcomer to the world of aesthetics. It was first used for cosmetic purposes back in 1990 and is FDA approved specifically for the purpose of reducing lines and wrinkles. It is estimated that a million Botox treatments were carried out in the UK in 2011 and this market of ‘less invasive treatments’ is showing no signs of slowing.
“There are a lot of powerful business woman out there ‘fighting the 50s’,” explained Cheryl.
“They’re trying to keep themselves ‘off the heap’ as young talented people are working their way up the ropes behind them.
“Improving your appearance to remain competitive in a challenging job market is a common reason people turn to Botox.”
Sheffield construction company owner Andy Hoggards, aged 30, admits that his Botox treatments are what gives him the confidence to compete in a competitive work arena.
“I work in a competitive market and my Botox treatments definitely make me a better businessman,” said Andy.
“When meeting with potential clients, I feel a pressure to look good.
“A suit is seen as professional attire and I see my looks the same way; Botox is my way of dressing for business.”
Amazingly people in their 20s are also jumping on the Hollywood-inspired bandwagon, in the hopes that keeping their expressions immobile will leave them wrinkle-free for longer.
“I use Botox preventatively because the idea of ageing terrifies me,” said 27-year-old Sheffield hairdresser Megan Knight.
“As a hairdresser I’m always frowning in concentration and when you look at yourself in the mirror all day, you become painfully aware of your flaws.
“I hate the idea of getting older and if Botox can slow down the process and stop lines forming, I’ll pay out.”
Recently the drug also received approval for several new uses, and has had some success treating chronic migraines, incontinence and excessive sweating.
“The attitude to Botox is really changing and we’re learning more about what it can do for us,” said Martin, who treats 150 clients in Sheffield for Botox.
“Non-surgical treatments like these definitely had a bad rep for a while, as a result of famous incidents such as Lesley Ash’s lips, being featured in the press.
“The problem is that it’s easy to get carried away and some people think that the ‘overdone’ celeb look is what Botox is, but the truth is you probably pass dozens of regular people a day who have Botox and fillers without realising it.
“A sign of truly successful Botox is when you can’t tell anything’s been done at all.”
n SEE TOMORROW: “Why we love our lunchtime face fixes” - the people of Sheffield come clean about their ‘little secret’