The LGBTQ community is spending more on cosmetic procedures than ever before. We dig deeper
I am 57 now and my opinion on looking good has not changed over the years: it’s like your house. If it starts to fall down, then you call someone in to get it fixed. Every so often you spruce it up with paint, making it look fresher and more up to date. So why would you not do the same for your face and body? After all, they are out there on show all the time – and who has people over for drinks to look at their new wallpaper?
Don’t judge me though! Let me stress that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with anyone who prefers to look as nature intended or grows old gracefully. I certainly won’t judge them. But, personally, since I bought my first cucumber face pack at 13, I’ve always tried my best to keep myself turned out well.
On a photo shoot recently, the make-up lady asked me to relax my forehead. I just burst out laughing – “My head hasn’t been relaxed since 1990,” I told her. “It’s permanently frozen. And if it’s not, then I want a refund!”
Botox was my first dip into aesthetics and my view is that as long as it does not become addictive, and you can laugh at yourself, there’s really nothing wrong with a jab here and there.
Many people I know have had a dip into the aesthetics world at one point or another, some bordering on addiction but mostly just to enhance their already beautiful features or just to freshen up.
Many refuse to admit it – they protest they have had nothing done but, strangely, appear to be unable to move their bee-stung lips. One actress I know for sure has had her eyes done twice, a full facelift and numerous other procedures. When asked to recommend a good doctor, she affected to be horrified, spluttering: “What do you mean? I’ve only ever had a chemical peel.”
One thing’s for sure, it’s big business among the LGBTQ community. Doctor Ioannis Liakas of Vie Aesthetics includes royalty and showbiz stars among his clientele, working between Harley Street and Southend, as well as his clinic in Germany.
He’s not keen on labels, and among his clients some are out and proud while others make no mention of their sexuality. One of the clinic ambassadors is the transgender model and actress Nicole Gibson and the clinic treats many clients who have had, or are undergoing gender reassignment.
So what proportion of his clientele is made up of the LGBTQ community – and are they seeking treatment mainly to cope with their insecurities?
Dr Liakas tells me it’s hard to be specific about numbers, after all, they don’t all arrive at the clinic belting out a chorus of “I am what I am!” But he estimates that at least 10-20 per cent of his clients open up to the team about their sexuality, their expectations and their lives. Those in the LGBTQ community tend to know what they want, and have done their homework – and that makes for a good client, he says.
People with low self-esteem tend to not know what they really want, or else they talk about what others have suggested they should have, but they themselves are unsure.
“In these cases, we tend to decline politely. In other cases, we might make appropriate suggestions for treatment and allow them to go away and think about it. One famous client told me he knew I would not approve of the look he wanted, but he was determined to go ahead anyway.”
There’s been a lot of talk about low self-esteem among the gay community but my experience is the opposite. Most of those I meet are fully aware of what they want and how it works. Gay men do tend to take care of themselves more, and have been trendsetters in the beauty business, but the heterosexual community is catching up fast.
Treatments include stem-cell hair loss and Endopeel (peanut oil), which can give you a six-pack, bottom lift and tightens your chin. It can even get rid of bingo wings. The LGBTQ community were straight on to that – Nicole Gibson was the first to have a bottom lift in this country and she has raved about it.
The needs of the transgender community are generally similar to other clients, but certain facial areas can be enhanced or reduced with injections to help someone look more feminine or more masculine, according to their individual needs. Good anatomical knowledge and precise techniques by the doctor performing the injections can give excellent results.
Botox remains the number one best seller within the LGBTQ community, mirroring Hollywood stars. Baby Botox, which gives a more natural, and less frozen look than traditional Botox, is increasingly popular. Many actors and actresses want to look younger but they still need their faces to be expressive. Adding a little volumising and collagen stimulator in filler creates a great natural look – and even the camera will not be able to reveal that some work has been done.
In recent years there’s been a massive increase in people, including the LGBTQ community, who don’t want to go under the knife. So instead of having facelifts, they are opting instead for threads that give a natural lift in just an hour, with little or no recovery time.
Irene Stewart is a 45-year-old aesthetics specialist who owns Top Lips in trendy Belgravia. She laughs when I ask about her LGBTQ clients. “I don’t think I have ever done a straight man’s lips, darling!” she tells me. She says all her male clientele for lips fillers are gay and she loves them. “I wish I were doing LGBTQ clients all day,” she says.
Yes, they have other treatments too, such as mesotherapy (collagen vitamin stimulating) also Botox. Heterosexual men do have facial treatment but, in her experience, don’t tend to have their lips done. Irene’s friends have always told her she’s quite camp and she thinks this may be why she has attracted so many LGBTQ clients. She empathises with them and they are comfortable with her. “If a client can tell you his boyfriend likes him with bigger lips for a sexual reason and feel comfortable telling me that, then that’s a job done,” she says.
Mike Davis, a 47-year-old fashion buyer, looks at least ten years younger and is always well turned out. He and his partner of 15 years live in Chiswick and both have had Botox and fillers for over ten years. Mike says he has Botox at least every three months and filler at least twice a year – and he loves the results. Most of his friends have also had some treatments done.
So does Mike think there is pressure on the community to have treatment? “Not at all,” he says. “I think we all want to look our best these days and are more open to new ideas and treatments. As soon as something new is out I want to know about it.” It’s not just the treatment that is important to him, it’s going to whoever is the best in the business.
Enhancing looks through aesthetics is not all about the quest for eternal youth – but who among us doesn’t like being mistaken for a few years younger? For Mike, a feeling that his Botox and fillers were not enough spurred him to go ahead with PDF threads, which lift sagging and tired skin. Called Ellonce, the premium treatment also stimulates collagen and elastin in the face.
“I have had an over-bite since I was a kid and it makes my jaw line look saggy,” he tells Dr Liakas. “Nothing seems to tighten it long term.” Dr Liakas thinks Mike is a perfect candidate for the procedure and says the results will almost be immediate – and will go on to improve and tighten over the next two months.He recommends eight threads, four in each side. It is reasonably quick (less than an hour) and simple compared to cosmetic surgery. The treatment is virtually pain free as anaesthetic is injected into Mike’s face.
“I did my homework,” Mike laughs. So he already knew that these threads, which have been around for 30 years, hook onto each other which makes them stronger than the mini threads or others on the market. “If they’re going to obliterate my sagging chin, they’ll need to be strong,” says Mike, who’s gowned up and ready for the procedure.
After around thirty minutes one side is done, and you can already see the difference. The tail end of the thread is left until the final side is done. It takes less than twenty minutes for the other side and then the threads are pulled up together and the tail ends snipped off.
“I am already delighted!” Mike exclaims as he gets a first look in the mirror. He disputes that the treatment is pain-free – “It’s not, but the pain is doable and it’s certainly not as bad as other treatments I have tried,” he says, as he keeps looking it the mirror.
There are some lumps and bumps where the threads have gone in, but the doctor assures Mike they will go down in the next few weeks, and the threads will start to get better over the next few weeks and months. The effect can last up to two years, depending on lifestyle.
But Mike’s face looks younger and firmer already, “I often wondered how some stars look years younger in a week or so on shows when they have not had time for a facelift. Now I know!”
Aesthetics is big business and it’s here to stay and may be poised to replace traditional surgery, as it’s more affordable and less traumatic. As always, where the fountain of youth is concerned, the LGBTQ community will be the first to dip its toes in.