I met with Dr Joanna Romanowska who is an accredited Doctor of the NZCSM* and she listened patiently to my concerns about the increased shape of my jaw and complaints of neck tension. But before recommending any course of treatment, she asked me if we could take a step back – what is the current level of stress in my life, what am I doing to support my gut health and what regular exercise am I doing? Although this may have seemed out of place initially, I was so impressed with this level of depth and care in my consultation. I had previously visited a mall-based clinic for a frown-line treatment, where they asked the bare minimum before getting straight to it. Suffice to say, I got what I paid for. The treatment was perfunctory, but after experiencing this level of consultation at Clinic 42, I would never go anywhere else.
It is of course obvious to me now, how important it is to ascertain someone’s wider health and wellbeing before prescribing a treatment plan. I love that Clinic 42’s philosophy of appearance medicine is to support the wellness on the inside with subtle tweaks that refresh the appearance, rather than aim to drastically modify it.
“If people can notice it, I’ve done too much,” Dr Joanna explains. She aims for an ‘I just woke up like this’ subtle freshness, without the exaggerated effects of what we commonly see on Instagram today.
After suggesting to me that I begin to take four broad-spectrum Probiotics a day, along with high-strength anti-inflammatory turmeric, Dr Joanna also prescribed a cosmeceutical skincare regime from Synergie to further calm my existing inflammation. The skincare also provides essential nutrients to protect my skin against damage caused by ageing and environmental stressors.
After this in-depth consultation, we ascertained that I would be an excellent candidate for maseter (jaw muscle) toxin and we booked a subsequent appointment. You can of course have the treatment on the same day, but do allow at least 30-45 minutes for your initial consultation.
I was blown away by Dr Joanna’s depth of knowledge and her understanding of cosmetic techniques. I felt immediately at ease with her friendly demeanour and dry sense of humour. Having being conditioned to the Instagram-skewed reality, I was initially worried the result would be too subtle, but she said we could take it one step at a time to reach my desired result.
On the day of my appointment, we took plenty of photos. Dr Joanna carefully marked out the points of insertion and discussed how much toxin would be needed. It’s important to note that there are three types of neurotoxin, each with a different molecular makeup suited to the treatment. Dr Joanna recommended 40 units of Dysport each side, which is a medium dosage, as some patients can need 60 units or more. Dysport is very similar to Botox, and a third toxin called Xeomin can also be considered.
As Dr Joanna prepared to inject, she asked me to clench down hard to mimic the clenching motion I was experiencing in my sleep. Even without any pain-medication or numbing cream, the injection was virtually painless, and I have a pretty low pain-threshold! I would suggest it’s about a 4/10, a tiny scratch at the most. We made about 3-4 insertions each side and in about five minutes, we were done!
The Dysport would begin to work over the next few days, with the full strength recognised in a week. My tension should reduce accordingly, and I could expect my face to relax and slim as a result of the muscle atrophy over the next few weeks. Dysport works to relax the muscle (rather than paralyse it completely), so my ability to clench down and cause neck tension would be reduced. Depending on your natural metabolism, individual results will vary, but Dr Joanna advised that I could expect the results to last about three months before needing a review. Not all patients need to get recurrent injections, as it is often possible to re-train the muscles so the urge to clench my jaw after the full muscle activity returned could be stopped.
It took a week before I felt a major difference – I woke up one morning feeling well rested and relaxed instead of irritable and tense. But it wasn’t until two weeks later that I saw a visible improvement. As I was applying my makeup and contour for a dinner with friends, I couldn’t believe how sculpted and pronounced my cheekbones looked! I looked as though I’d had a mini-face lift and everything was tighter and firmer. From a side profile, I looked more chiselled and my jawline was more pronounced also. My eyebrows looked more defined and the slimmer jaw complemented my face well.
It’s been about five weeks since the initial treatment and I am in love. My jaw feels relaxed, and I wake without any tension in my neck. I did notice that during week three and four, the tension started to transfer to my front teeth when I was anxious, but as this was during the day (and these muscles are considerably weaker than in the jaw) – I could modify the behaviour and actively relax. Thankfully this hasn’t carried into week five.
I am also blown away by the change to my skin after incorporating the turmeric and probiotics. My breakouts are considerably smaller and less frequent, with any blemishes healing in three days instead of five or six. My pores look reduced and skin is brighter and calmer overall.
*Dr Joanna Romanowska is an Accredited Doctor of the NZ Society of Cosmetic Medicine. With increased accessibility and availability of cheap and cheerful cosmetic services popping up in the market, it is essential to do your research into the clinic and the person doing your treatment. By choosing a cosmetic medicine physician who is a member of NZSCM, you can be confident that you are in safe and competent hands. Certification cannot just be ‘awarded’ to anyone and rigorous post-doctorate training is required. Furthermore, practising professionals must re-register every three years and demonstrate a commitment to learning new techniques and advanced methods. The NZSCM only endorse products that have been clinically proven to be safe, effective and fully registered by a regulatory body such as Medsafe, TGA or FDA. To understand more about the certification visit here.