When solicitor Mark Roberts has an important court appearance looming, the preparation is often the same.
Arduous working days, sleepless nights and sometimes a week or so in advance: Botox.
But this is not about eradicating wrinkles. For Roberts, who deals in commercial litigation, it is his edge in an ever competitive market.
“When I’m in court or working on a settlement, it allows me to appear calmer and more in control than I actually am, and in negotiations my face won’t give away surprise or shock the way it used to. It’s just part of playing the game,” he explains.
Roberts is one of an increasing number of City professionals getting what cosmetic doctors are calling “pro-tox” or “professional Botox” injections, to stop them looking stressed and gain confidence in the workplace.
For Dr Andrew Douglas, a facial aesthetics doctor based in Harley Street who coined the term “pro-tox”, this procedure now accounts for up to
30 per cent of his work. He says that figure is made up of high-flyers.
“My patients, such as lawyers, traders, bankers, hedge-fund managers, doctors, feel they need to deal with anything that undermines them looking in control. Driven by the recession and competition for jobs, people are working harder, they are working longer hours, and this is portrayed in their faces. They are definitely asking for something different. It’s not about eliminating wrinkles,” he explains.
Roberts agrees: “I caught sight of myself in a glass door one day as I was coming out of court, and I just looked so cross and stressed. I hadn’t realised it was so obvious and I didn’t want to appear that way to clients, or the opposition. I knew I had to do something.”
Dr Douglas notes that at his practice more men than women are pro-toxing. A regular patient – a barrister – put the favourable outcome of his latest trial down to his artificially de-stressed and seemingly well-rested appearance. In reality, he had not slept in days.
“There is definitely a large demand and it’s rising. I would say a third of my patients – all successful City professionals – are having this done. I do it myself,” says Dr Puneet Gupta, a cosmetic physician a few doors down Harley Street at The Private Clinic.
“I have injections around the crow’s feet and in the frown line between my brows, where most people’s faces show stress. It gives me a calm, awake look, which is particularly important if you have a highly pressurised job, or one where people have to feel confident in your decisions,” he adds.
So while in the traditional anti-ageing use, Botox is often injected into the centre of the forehead to smooth away tell-tale lines, for this effect it is injected sparingly in between the eyebrows – or the number 11 lines – while the forehead is left natural.
This means the upper face will still show expression, but a frown – the most common sign of anger or worry – will become something you have to decide to do, rather than stop yourself from revealing.
“Botox blocks the nerve endings to muscles that signal motion,”‘ says Dr Rita Rakus, a cosmetic doctor based in Knightsbridge. “Professional people don’t want to look completely frozen, they just want expression reduced, so they don’t give away the game totally.”
Dr Douglas explains that as every face is different, the areas injected vary.
“Some people have overly animated eyebrows while speaking, or unusual facial movements which they want to calm. A downturned mouth and tense jaw can convey stress and unhappiness. In highly pressurised work environments people cannot even realise they are doing this,” he says.
“The problem for these sorts of people, especially now, is time. Making the time to eat healthily, go jogging, applying the lotions and potions, getting a good night’s sleep. That’s all difficult to maintain, and this is very much a 21st-century cure,” advises Antonia Mariconda, a cosmetic expert.
That cure won’t come cheap. Botox lasts between three and four months, and with most doctors charging a starting price of about £200 (for just one area of the face), you could be looking at a commitment of tens of thousands of pounds over the course of your career.
Roberts – who is just 36 – has been injecting regularly for seven years. He considers it a bankable investment.
“It’s certainly helped. I have good relationships with my clients and they keep coming back, down in part to how I come across. And I am a partner at my firm, which is very good considering my age,” he adds.
So for those looking to freeze out their professional competition, pro-tox could be the solution. One thing is for certain – they will never see it coming.
Writer: Kara Dolman
Category: Skin Care