Lifestyle

Saturday 26 July 2014

I'm a sucker for beauty fads, so I tried the vampire facelift

Deirdre Reynolds tries out one of 2013's hottest treatments

With not a single wrinkle at almost 600 years old, Dracula knew a thing or two about the secret to eternal youth.

Now girls here are taking their cue from Bram Stoker's famous neck-nibbler for a crease-free Count-enance, too.

'Dracula therapy' is tipped to become one of the hottest cosmetic treatments of 2013.

Youthful stars Anna Friel (36) and Kim Kardashian (32) have reportedly undergone the so-called "vampire facelift".

Like most girls, I'm a sucker for all the latest beauty fads. So when I was asked to brave the vampire facelift, I was only too happy to give it a Twi.

Also known as 'platelet-rich plasma skin therapy', the non-surgical procedure works by using your own blood to rejuvenate the skin.

"Platelets are cells in the blood which help repair tissue and stimulate collagen regrowth," explains Dr Peter Prendergast, medical director of Venus Medical in Dundrum.

'Platelet-rich plasma has 10 times the number of platelets as regular blood. So we take a regular blood sample and spin it in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma, which is golden in colour, from the platelet-poor plasma, which is red.

"Then we add calcium chloride to activate the platelets and inject it back into the skin."

Just like forever-young Bella Swan, I donated a phial of my blood for the procedure, which Dr Peter then injected all over my face with a tiny needle that hardly stung.

Some might say that docs have a neck to charge €490 per session for Dracula therapy which recycles your own blood.

But the appeal of achieving the anti-ageing benefits of a facelift without going under the knife means there are plenty of other women who are vain enough, according to the clinic.

"We've had lots of enquiries about dracula therapy," says Dr Prendergast.

"Our clients range in age from around 30 to 60. As well as the face, it can also be injected into other areas like the décolletage and the back of the hands," he adds.

"Basically, it helps to smooth and tighten the skin."

Pushing Daisies star Anna Friel, for one, thinks it's bloody great.

"I go to (French cosmetic surgeon to the stars) Dr Sebagh's and have a thing called the vampire facelift," she tells.

"You can't stop what's coming," adds the mum of one, who also swears by cold spoons to banish under-eye bags. "We are all getting older."

But Dracula therapy isn't the only blood-curdling beauty treatment out there.

Ever since Demi Moore admitted to letting leeches suck her blood in the name of beauty in 2008, leech therapy has been on the rise here.

German Ulf Stahlberg has been practising hirudotherapy – to give it its real name – at his Body in Balance clinic in Wexford since moving here in 2007.

"The ancient Egyptians used it for all kinds of ailments," says hirudotherapist Ulf.

"During the session, I apply between six to 18 leeches to the skin, depending on the size of the area to be treated.

'I leave the leeches on for up to two-and-a-half hours until they finish feeding.

"Their saliva contains an anticoagulant which detoxifies the blood and improves circulation."

Or as Demi Moore puts it: "It crawls in and you feel it bite down on you and you want to go, 'You b*****d'. Then you relax and work on your breathing just to relax."

"These are not just ordinary leeches you would find in a lake," warns Ulf, who charges €85 per session. "They're special medicinal leeches imported from Germany."

Between needles and blood, however, some are still squeamish about vampire-inspired beauty treatments, admit practitioners.

"People ask, 'Can I get AIDs?'" says Stahlberg. "But it's extremely safe because the leeches were born and raised in a lab.

"In my 15 years' practising hirudotherapy, only one patient got a minor infection – and that was because he went swimming in a dirty lake afterwards."

"Botox is still the best way to get rid of crows' feet," reckons Dr Prendergast. "But Dracula therapy is a good natural alternative.

"It's your own blood, so it's perfectly safe," he adds. "Once people see the benefits, they usually don't mind a bit of blood."

Irish Independent

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