Menopause can have a huge impact on your body – and not only the nuclear explosions that are hot flushes. The drop in our oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels has an impact on every part of us, from top to toe. And this, in turn, can play a huge part in how we feel about ourselves.
We all know what it’s like when you wake up and look in the mirror and someone from The Waking Dead looks back at you. Someone from the undead side of The Waking Dead, that is.
Sometimes that’s caused by lack of sleep, one of the less lovelier sides of menopause. But if it’s happening more times than you’d like, I’ve met the man who can help.
Dr Andrew Weber runs Bodyvie in Richmond upon Thames, an aesthetics clinic specialising in “meno-tweaks”: small rejuvenation treatments to make you look and feel better.
Now I can hear you shouting already about “growing old gracefully” because I used to. I was – and still am – happy with wrinkles and the impact ageing has on my body. I hate my eyebags and had fillers once and I tried Botox a couple of times in my early 40s, more out of curiosity than anything else. But I didn’t really feel or notice that much of a difference so never bothered again.
However, then my hair started falling out with menopause and I noticed the impact this had on me psychologically. When my hair looks bad, I feel bad. No one else may notice it, but I do and it stays with me all day. I don’t feel as comfortable or walk as tall (or as tall as I can, just nudging 5ft).
So if that is how other people feel about wrinkles or lumps and bumps on their body, who am I to tell them to “grow old gracefully”? I’ve changed my hair, so why not try a little “meno-tweak”.
Basically, my advice now is: if there is something out there that can help and will make you feel better – go for it!
Helping you inside and out
Now I’m not saying: “Make yourself younger”. I don’t want to look 20 anymore and thankfully, neither does Dr Weber and the Bodyvie team.
Instead, when I meet Dr Weber at his swish clinic – everyone’s lovely and friendly – he tells me how their main aim is not erasing your life from how you look. They focus on a holistic approach to menopause and ageing, looking after you inside and out.
“Of course how you look has an impact on how you feel with the menopause,” he tells me. “If you’re going through the menopause, you’re more likely to be putting on weight, you get skin sagging, you got vaginal problems – there’s a large psychological element to it.”
When we started chatting, I kinda expected that scene in Sex and the City (I haven’t mentioned it for a while; gimme a break) where Samantha goes and sees a plastic surgeon and asks what she should get done. He basically draws marks over all her amazing body, where he’d nip, tuck, lift, suck and inject.
Start with the skin
Instead, Dr Weber begins by talking about our old friend sunscreen and the importance of looking after your skin.
“We’ve always been skin-centred,” he says. “More recently, we’ve become involved with management of the menopause because that will not only help to control menopausal symptoms, but it will also help to control and improve the quality of the skin.”
As far as our skin is concerned, it is the drop-off in collagen that has the biggest impact. Collagen gives our skin strength and elasticity, but our levels start dropping once we hit our mid-20s.
“Then, from your mid-40s, you fall off a cliff,” Dr Weber says. “Your skin is one of the organs that is oestrogen dependent so when you take away that oestrogen, you get a rapid deterioration in quality in the skin, specifically in collagen and elasticity.
“We start off with very simple skincare,” he says. “Sun protection is vital throughout the year, summer and winter.
“You have UVA and UVB: the B is for Burn and the A is for ageing [I love that!]. UVA is present all-year round in almost the same concentration so you want to use protection all year.”
Why you need Vitamin C and retinol
Bodyvie recommends recommends Vitamin C and Vitamin A, or retinol, as it is more often known, to counteract the damage.
“Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, it’s anti-ageing and it helps to repair the DNA that’s just been damaged by UVA,” Dr Weber adds. “Retinol is an mild lightening agent and a mile antioxidant that stimulates collagen, which is a good thing.
“It controls the pigment cells which, because of the damage of the sun, start clumping together to give you sunspots.
“But its main function is an accelerator, which is why it’s used in teenagers with acne. It speeds up the turnover of the cells from six to eight weeks to three to four, so everything heals and regenerates much faster.”
As well as topical creams, such as the Dr Weber Skincare range, Bodyvie also recommends Skinade Collagen Drink. It not only tastes gorgeous, but contains Vitamin B complex, MSM and the amino acid L-lysine to help your collagen formation, Vitamin C and Omegas 3 and 6, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.
“Your collagen drops 1-1.5% a year after the age of 25,” Dr Weber says. “If you can increase your collegen by 25%, you’re your taking your skin quality back by 15-17 years.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds brilliant to me. As I said, apart from my eyebags (which Dr Weber recommends laser treatment for – “because you said you didn’t like them”), I’m okay with my wrinkles. I’m not in shar pei territory and I love the life that gave them to me.But I hate those days when my skin looks dishwater dull and a little saggy. It makes me feel dull and saggy. When you look at, say, Dame Helen Mirren or, to go younger, Olivia Colman (both spectacular at the Golden Globes), it is their bright, lively skin that you notice. Who wouldn’t want that.
But I hate those days when my skin looks dishwater dull and a little saggy. It makes me feel dull and saggy. When you look at, say, Dame Helen Mirren or, to go younger, Olivia Colman (both spectacular at the Golden Globes), it is their bright, lively skin that you notice.
Who wouldn’t want to look that glowing?
It is not all body beautiful at Bodyvie. As well as treatments to help the likes of stress urinary incontinence and vaginal discomfort, Dr Weber also offers a private HRT and menopause management consulation. He’ll discuss symptoms and treatments with you and prescribe medication if it’s needed.
“I’m a great advocate of HRT,” he says. “I think we have to look at everything – all the information that’s out there – to get a balance. Yes, there are risks, but the risks of not taking it are greater.”
Now sit down.
I mean it. Sit down.
The price, for this 30-minute consultation, is £75. If you need a follow-up, that’s £50.
Told you you needed to sit down.
I have women in my menopause support group who have paid £270 for private consultations. And having met Dr Weber and discussed menopause and HRT with him, I’d tell them to take a trip to Richmond, instead.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? ARE MENO-TWEAKS FOR YOU? LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW
If you’ve enjoyed this, please like and subscribe and share with your friends.