By Sarah Dougherty
Anti-aging in Bali – how to get it right.
What could go wrong, right? A little Botox here, a bit of filler … everyone is doing it. Well quite a lot and I’ve discovered this the hard way. I’ve had my fair share of cringe-worthy results on the vanity trail so I’m always a little nervous when I hit up a new anti-aging clinic.
However, with the help of one of Bali’s top aesthetic doctors, Dr Made Ita, I think that I’ve finally cracked the success code.
Lord knows when the Covid restrictions ease many of us will be searching for a few beauty touch-ups. It’s hard to avoid the reality star wannabee look, it’s everywhere; overblown lips, impossible cheeks, foreheads shinier than your best non-stick pan … but I’m looking for something more subtle. I don’t want to look like someone else, just a slightly better version of myself.
With age, we lose collagen, our skin gets thinner, we start to droop, we lose definition in our lips and our jawlines and the laughter lines get a little deeper as the years go on. In search of the most effective, and natural-looking, anti-aging treatments in Bali, I lucked out on my first trip and never ventured any further.
Bali is a popular place to get plumped up and ironed out. Anti-aging clinics and dentists are often on the cards for tourists and locals alike, there are lots of good ones, and some not-so-good. It depends what you’re looking for.
In search of the right anti-aging clinic (for me)
In the name of research, I was drawn back to one of the early pioneers in anti-aging. Dr Made Ita gave me my first dose of filler and the results lasted years. Before setting up her own practice she worked at Miracle, one of the country’s leading aesthetic clinics and hosted private Botox parties before acquiring her own clinic. On the advice of friends, who were loyal clients, she was first on my list and it turns out, last. I never went further for regular maintenance – test driving disasters aside.
A licensed General Practitioner, Dr Made decided early on that she wanted to specialise in aesthetic medicine and signed on to Miracle for her training. A decision she is very happy she made.
“They taught me that aesthetics starts with the skin; analysing it and treating it, I learned a lot of techniques I still use today,” she explains.
Everyone wants to look like a Kardashian, it just depends which one!
She says that one of the things that go wrong for people is that they lose touch of the ‘aesthetic”. I mention the Kardashians and her reply surprises me. Kim, she claims, has kept the form of her face. Yes, she might look overdone but the person doing her work has followed the original shape of her face. Her features are balanced which is attractive. The others, she laughs, not so much. This is key to staying true to the face you were born with, changing it will always look fake.
Dr Made has the perfect ‘did she or didn’t she’ look that I am looking for. She is in her late ‘40’s and has the benefit of beautiful Asian skin, but it’s hard to pinpoint what treatments she has done and that’s exactly the look I want.
My treatment begins with a consultation. She maps out my face and the problem areas; sagging around the jaw, marionette lines that draw the mouth down; frown lines that make me look a little angry; and dehydration which results in making me look generally older.
She agrees that a facelift would fix a lot of these issues (funny how they all say that!), but I’m not ready, or able, to go that far right now. Her diagnosis is filler in the marionette lines, Botox to soften the forehead, the chin lines and around the eyes. I agree with that. She also suggests filler in my cheeks but this makes me nervous so instead she suggests a relatively new treatment called a Skin Booster. It is a mix of hyaluronic acid with glutathione and some amino acids. The glutathione has a brightening effect on the skin, and it turns out to be my favourite treatment. It is injected into the skin and plumps it up by attracting moisture. It also stimulates collagen production.
Dr Made warns me, as I am about to go on holiday, that the Skin Booster involves quite a few small injections which may result in some redness. I decide I can live with that.
Skin boosters are subtle but give your skin a boost of hydration. Image from Restalyne.
I’m trying something new which really could go either way – the day before I jet off for a holiday – but somehow I feel quite safe in Dr Made’s hands. She’s agreed to go softly, softly with the amount of Botox and filler and the Skin Booster that will fully develop a week or so after the treatment. It stings a little, especially the Booster, which she reminds me is acid. She’s right about the redness and the next day I look like I’ve broken out.
Dr Made enjoys working with women over 40 and has a great understanding of the issues they face.
By the time I am heading for the airport, I’m able to put a little make up on to cover any residual redness but it’s already fading. Twenty–plus hours of flying is not going to help anyone look good but after a night’s sleep I wake up and my skin looks better. Over the following weeks it continues to improve and I have a lot of people telling me I look great. Asking if I have had anything done?
How to avoid the trout pout
Dr Made convinced me to put a little filler in my lips, something I’ve had real issues with in the past; the memory of six months with a lisp still lingers in my mind. The result is so subtle that not one single person notices. Not even my daughter who does her own and can spot lip filler a mile away. I keep the secret for months before I give it up and tell.
This is exactly what I want. My lips look slightly fuller and the shape is more defined but without that tell-tale trout pout. My skin looks plumper, younger, more hydrated and completely natural. I don’t look done, I just look healthier, ‘good for my age’. Most of all though, I am happy.
Dr Made travels every year to conferences and product launches sponsored by the major anti-aging companies. She never puts her hand up for freebies, she says she’d rather wait and see the results play out over time.
Six months later I’m still getting compliments and it’s given me a great confidence boost.
Here’s what I have learned:
If it sounds too good it probably is
Dr Made says she discovers new things every time she travels to conferences. The latest injectables are aimed at increasing your own collagen. The new age fillers sound great but she is waiting to see the results before recommending them to her clients. New products and updates are coming on the market all the time but do you want to be the guinea pig? Dr Made says wait and go with tried and tested products and treatments. She will give it at least a year, maybe two, and this is sound advice.
Choose a doctor who has the look you want.
I’ve gone into plenty of anti-aging clinics and met doctors who look ‘overdone’ and even plastic. If that’s the look they like they will probably try this one on you too.
Fillers will last six months to two years. If you don’t like the results, you’re stuck with it. The Skin Booster was a great starter for me. It improves the hydration in the skin and the results will last at least 3-6 months ( almost a year later I am still seeing the results as it also activates your own collagan). It’s more subtle than normal fillers. On my return visit I asked Dr Made if she had topped up her lips, they looked great. She said she had tried the Skin Booster in them and was happy with the result. Go slowly. You can always get more if you like the result but reversing it isn’t easy. Believe me I’ve tried!
Get a consultation first.
Some doctors will charge for the consultation but it’s worth it. You want someone who will really look at your problem areas and make a plan that you agree to. Too many doctors will say, ‘trust me’, that isn’t a good plan in my experience.
Chances are, if you’re older, many of your friends will have tried Botox and possibly fillers. Ask them where they went if you like what you see. In fact, ask them where they went if you don’t, then you’ll know who to avoid.
Any upgrades to your looks are purely personal. I have friends who love the over-the top plumped up lips and cheeks. Some can even get away with it. Finding the right doctor for you depends on what results you are looking for.
Dr Made says her favourite clients are western women over 40. Tick. Increasingly she gets younger women who want the Kardashian look. “I tell them 3ml of filler in the face is my limit, 1 ml for lips. If they want more they can come back after it’s settled.”
That is my kind of doctor, but there’s no chance I’ll be putting anywhere near that amount of filler into my face, it simply wouldn’t suit my ‘aesthetic’.
Dr Made’s tips:
Looking good starts at home
“Start early and use retinol-based products to boost your collagen. They also act as a mild exfoliant. Never leave the house without putting sunscreen on the most exposed areas, especially the nose.”
“You can always top up fillers if you’re happy but I recommend starting slowly and then building on it. That way you can avoid any obvious changes to the way you look.”
Your lifestyle shows on your face
“I deal with a lot of anxious women all day so meditating is a life saver for me, it keeps me calm. Once I hit 45, I also started to be more serious about my fitness and my diet and I encourage my older clients to eat better and sleep better and stay active. Obviously smoking and alcohol will have a negative effect on aging.”
Invest in regular facials
“We offer a lot of facial treatments to correct skin problems and anti-aging. From regular facials with infused oxygen to treatments that induce collagen stimulation such as RF (Radio Frequency) and Ultrasound. I recommend to my clients that that try to fit in a facial once a month. Some of the most effective facials require a few sessions to get the results.”
Shop around and beware of the latest products
“New products come on the market all the time. Sometimes they need to be fine-tuned (a little like your software updates), and so if your anti-aging doctor is recommending something brand new on the market, do a little research and ask around before agreeing to the latest thing.”