Vampire facials put to the test
GETTING fit and healthy may not be easy, but it is simple – eat well and exercise regularly, and you'll soon look and feel good inside and out.
But if there's a special occasion coming up, or we want an added boost, many of us seek a quick way to improve our appearance.
And in this age of obsession with looking young, maybe it should be no surprise vampires are the latest cultural trend.
Ghoulish maybe, but with their translucent skin forever young, these creatures of the night are now the face of the latest cosmetic treatment, tagged "the vampire facial".
Followers include the Kardashian clan. It was Kim Kardashian who put the vampire face procedure on the radar when she was filmed having the treatment. Next thing you know it's in all the mags, and women are lining up for it everywhere.
The procedure is known as "My Cells" or platelet-rich plasma treatment (PRP), and responsible clinics here point out they do not like the term "vampire".
So how does it feel, and is it worth succumbing?
Well, I've done some weird things for readers – everything from climbing sheer rock faces to colonic irrigation – but I nearly drew the line at vampires: "Not bloody likely," was my instinctive response.
But I haven't chickened out yet, so I decided to give it a go. After all, anyone on PAYE or paying off a bank loan is used to giving blood.
In fact, PRP is not surgery, but an in-house procedure that involves having blood drawn from your arm, then spun in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets. These are then injected into your face, with the aim of stimulating new collagen production.
The treatment is now available nationally at centres including the Otto Clinic in Limerick, run by Ita Murphy, a nurse who teaches PRP techniques to doctors here and in England.
It uses the healing properties of your blood, in concentrated form, to stimulate growth in your skin and improve its appearance, she says.
"Upon injection into the skin, platelets release their growth factors which trigger surrounding cells to proliferate, in turn stimulating repair, increasing volume and rejuvenating the skin," says Ita, who runs her busy clinic in Limerick's Pery Square.
The growth factors in the plasma boost collagen production and this results in new skin cells being formed, she says.
"It creates a tightening effect on the treated area, and the result is a glowing youthful-looking skin."
All right, says I, bring it on. Ita quickly administers an anaesthetic cream across my face. It's a lot less painful than you might imagine, and she briskly inserts several quick injections across my face and eyes, using blood drawn from my arm.
All up it takes less than an hour, and despite initial bruising that makes me look like I've gone a couple of rounds with Katie Taylor, these quickly subside and the skin around my face and eyes seems brighter.
Another PRP provider is the Ailesbury Clinic in Dublin. Its medical director, Dr Patrick Treacy, supports the procedure, if done properly, and advises two to three treatments for optimum results.
And ghoulish as it may sound, many clients prefer the idea of using their own blood, rather than a neurotoxin or synthetic filler, to rejuvenate their faces.
However, some surgeons express concern at what they say is lack of research proving the efficacy of PRP, which costs upwards of €500 a go and targets areas including the face and neck.
"One of the problems with the technique is that not all clinics perform the same procedure, and more importantly the efficacy and safety of PRP for cosmetic treatment have not been properly studied in controlled clinical trials," says Dr Treacy.
But Dr Patricia Eadie, president of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgery, is not convinced: "There is no robust scientific evidence to show any real benefit from these procedures and I would caution patients about believing all they hear."
As for me, I'll stick to fresh air and exercise to keep that healthy glow. They're available anywhere – and they're both free.
WE TRIED: Platelet-rich plasma treatment or "vampire facial"
DID IT WORK? Bloody well improves your skin tone
PLUSES: Uses your own blood cells
MINUSES: Having injections in your face, and initial bruising
COST: Upwards of €500 per treatment
CONTACT: Limerick: Otto Clinic, 3 Pery Square. Tel: 61317678. Email: email@example.com. Dublin: Ailesbury Clinic, Suite 6 Merrion Court, Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 2692255 or 2692133. Email: www.ailesburyclinic.ie.