The Leader's Laura Coates mid-way through the PRP, or 'vampire facial' treatment
“I can’t look at you right now,” said my colleague, shrinking back into his desk. “I can still see the trackmarks on your face.”
Charming... but understandable! I’d just popped back into the Leader offices after a PRP — or Platelet Rich Plasma — treatment.
Readers may know it from the episode of the Kardashians spinoff 'Kim and Kourtney take Miami', where reality star Kim Kardashian underwent the procedure — and so popularised the term ‘vampire facial’ due to her bloodied appearance on screen.
For yes, you do look like Dracula’s been snacking on your face during the treatment. And, to be honest, you’ll look a bit ropey for a couple of days afterwards — but after the first couple of hours, not on a level that’ll attract weird stares if you pop down to the shops.
To road-test the procedure, I put myself into the highly qualified hands of Nicola Lynch, a trained nurse, at Renew Aesthetic Clinic on Basin Street in Naas, who explained the procedure, which lasts about an hour and a half.
First up, a small sample of your own blood is extracted from your arm, which is then spun in a centrifuge for about ten minutes. This separates the PRP to be used in the treatment.
PRP is full of regenerative platelets that, when injected into your face, stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin as well as cellular growth. In other words, it’s meant to give you glowy, fresher-looking skin and can smooth out issues such as acne scarring, open pores, fine lines or sun damage.
It’s worth noting here that PRP isn’t some quack’s idea dreamed up to sell the ideal of eternal youth to women. It’s a procedure that is also used by doctors to treat sports injuries, ligament trouble or arthritis.
Nicola explained that, while some therapists spread the PRP substance over the client’s skin and massage it in, she likes to go ‘the whole hog’ and make sure it really gets to work. Which means — for the squeamish among you — that there is going to be some blood involved…
First off, an anaesthetic gel was applied to my face, which left me comfortably numb.
After that, I underwent what a session of ‘microneedling’ — a procedure I’ve had on its own before, whereby very fine needles are used to puncture the top layer of the skin, to stimulate the production of collagen as the skin heals itself.
It sounds terrifying, but, thanks to the blissful anesthetic gel mask, it just feels the same as an elastic band snapping against your skin — irritating but nothing unbearable, if slightly sorer around the bony parts of your face, such as your cheekbones or top of your forehead.
After that, Nicola injected the PRP in several areas across my face, concentrating especially on acne scars on my cheeks and on fine lines around the edges of my mouth and eyes.
Kim Kardashian got a similar treatment done for her reality TV show
Lying there on the table, you do have a natural urge to squirm away from the needle, but the procedure, honestly, is not painful at all.
Afterwards, you are advised to drink plenty of water — quite comical until the gel wears off — and avoid strong sunlight for a while, unless, of course you’re smothered in high-factor sunblock, which of course is best skincare practice anyhow.
Renew also gives each client a special kit of facial wash, masque and moisturisers to maximise the benefits for the weeks after the treatment.
As mentioned above, I looked slightly sunburned for a couple of days afterwards and my skin did tingle quite a bit that night, but that was the worst of it.
A bit of make-up covered up the quickly-fading trackmarks so I stopped looking like Dracula’s dinner.
For the purpose of this experiment, I didn’t do anything else differently — such as go on a crazy juice diet or get more than my regular six to seven hours of sleep — to see how much of an effect the PRP alone had on my skin.
And I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Six days after the treatment, my mum said my skin looked glowing. It has definitely looked brighter than normal and felt significantly smoother.
The official blurb says that a series of these treatments is often recommended — but I saw results after just one. It’s not a permanent ‘fix’ for problem skin as the effects will wear off after between six and 12 months, but is a more natural (because it uses your body’s own products) to synthetic dermal fillers.
Of course, all of this comes at a cost, and PRP is quite expensive. Prices for the treatment start at €495, which would be prohibitive for many readers.
On the other hand, if you have the cash and want to look like a knockout for a very special event without people whispering that you’ve had plastic surgery done, I’d recommend it.
Just be sure you leave plenty of recovery time in between the treatment and your big day!
For more information, contact Renew Aesthetic Clinic on 045 901111 or www.renewclinic.ie.