APTOS VIRTUAL LIFT I paid £2,000 on ‘puppet lift’ to get perfect Zoom face and now feel more confident on screen
AFTER weeks of work video calls, Zoom fitness workouts and WhatsApp calls with friends, Fleur Harrison hated seeing her ageing face.
The 51-year-old business manager became so fed up that one video call to a doctor left her in floods of tears, and she refused to participate in screen-time work meetings.
Not used to seeing her face so often, the mum-of-two suddenly had time to examine every line, wrinkle, groove and sagging area of skin.
But Fleur is not alone — with critical self-examination during video calls now known as “Zoom Face”.
Half of us hate how we look when confronted with it on screen, research by skincare brand Medovie found, while 25 per cent avoid Zoom calls at all costs and, in virtual work meetings, three in four of us can’t concentrate on the call as we are too distracted by how we look.
Fleur’s confidence hit such a low that she spent £2,000 on a “puppet facelift” which sculpted her jaw and lifted her cheeks using fine string.
She also turned to Botox — just like 12 per cent have done after seeing themselves on Zoom — to relax facial muscles and smooth out wrinkles.
Fleur, who is from Bournemouth, and married with two sons aged 13 and 12, says: “Seeing myself on video so often made me very aware of my ageing.
“My cheeks and jaw were sagging more than I had noticed and my frown lines were reappearing.
“Flicking through old pictures, I had fuller cheeks five years ago, and I thought, ‘I want that again’.”
Recalling one virtual work meeting, she says: “I caught a glimpse of myself and thought I had aged. I remember thinking, ‘Goodness, I need to get the lighting right to minimise how unforgiving this camera is.’
“I then stopped doing the meetings for a while because I honestly dreaded seeing myself.”
At the start of the first lockdown, Fleur had also started exercising with a friend on Zoom, while keeping a photo diary of her progress.
She says: “I’d been really ill in January — suffering from salmonella and gut infections at the same time as going through my menopause. Once I started to recover, I found someone to exercise with on Zoom.
“To ensure I committed, I would also take a daily selfie to send to another friend to say, ‘Look, I’ve done it’. If I didn’t send that photo, I felt like I hadn’t worked out.
“But while I felt so proud of those photos, and pleased I was recovering, there was a realisation I was ageing.
“While I was looking better — my eyes were brighter and my skin was clearer — I could see some things were not going to change, that no cream could fix them.
“Now that I was feeling better than ever, with good nutrition, I wanted my face to show it.
“I was putting off calls with my friends as I would spend the chat more focused on myself — I didn’t feel confident at all.
“On occasions that I couldn’t get out of a call, I would do my very best hair and make-up — that is usually saved for evenings out — so I felt better and appeared more glam.
“Normally, you wouldn’t notice it as much, but when you are seeing your screen-self every day, you pick up on every little change.”
Recalling that fateful video call with a doctor, she adds: “They were prescribing skincare for my grey, tired skin from being poorly, and I had tears rolling down my cheeks because I looked so unwell.
“I thought, ‘That’s not me. I’m such a positive, happy person.’”
After some research, Fleur contacted River Aesthetics on London’s Harley Street, who advised the Aptos thread-lift from Novus Medical.
'IT FELT LIKE A MASSAGE'
Dr Victoria Manning, from River Aesthetics, describes the procedure as less invasive than a normal facelift.
She says: “It involves elevating various parts of the face and body, using specially designed threads, and without having to make incisions as during a conventional facelift.”
But she advises that, like every other cosmetic procedure, it must be carried out by a registered and experienced practitioner.
Fleur says: “It was pain-free, with no bruising. It felt like a massage.
“It costs as much as a designer handbag but the confidence I felt afterwards made it so beneficial — and it is unlike an expensive handbag, which you think twice about taking out if it is raining.
"My face can get wet, so the cost per wear is better. It’s subtle, too. My husband doesn’t even know what I had done.
“All he said was: ‘Not going to ask, don’t need to know, but you look fabulous’.
“My girlfriends have all been telling me I look so well, questioning about my skincare routine and if I’ve had microneedling — but with no clue about the treatment.
“Ladies are happy to spend money on creams but unsure to spend on something that gives results.
“Yet in my mind, waiting to see if those creams work could take years and, by that point, it’s too late.
“It’s now a few months on and I’m over the moon with the results. I no longer dread Zoom calls and I’m more confident than ever.”