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IMAGE tweakment guide

While we’re all for pro-ageing, sometimes there are parts of us we wouldn’t mind tweaking. Even as we’re all becoming quite savvy on the offerings of our local skin clinics, what’s new? What works? What’s worth shelling out for? Melanie Morris gathers up some of the IMAGE team’s favourite tried-and-tested solutions for faces and bodies to feel our happiest.

The treatment: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections

What it’s good for Collagen stimulation, hair regrowth, plumping lips, hydrating skin. Great to boost flagging skin between Botox appointments, ideal to give brides some added luminosity.

The background PRP is a treatment born from orthopaedic science, as it was originally favoured for its ability to “speed heal” tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. Aestheticians discovered that the same methods could make collagen grow in bountiful quantities, which has great rejuvenating results on the face. Then the Kardashians jumped on board and the catchily named “vampire facial” was born.

What’s involved This is a longer-than-lunchtime, but uncomplicated treatment that’s also relatively wallet-friendly, as most of the material required is provided by the patient. A few vials of blood are drawn, the contents of which are then spun in a machine to separate the golden, growth-factor-rich serum from the plasma. This serum is then injected back into the treated area, which has most likely been numbed with topical anaesthetic cream.

How it works The rich serum that’s used is densely populated by platelets, which are the powerhouse repairers of the blood. Packed with nutrients, stem cells and growth factors, they boost exhausted or injured cells, drive up collagen production and encourage speedy rejuvenation. Two sessions, approximately three to six months apart are recommended.

After effects No downtime, and no special aftercare are required. As with anything involving needles, there can be bruising to the area.

Personal feedback After seeing the horrific pictures of PRP, I was put off the treatment for years, until I discovered, like most things on the internet, the reality is very different. This was a straight-forward treatment and involved no bloody or pin-pricked face. I had PRP under my eyes and on nasal-labial folds and haven’t needed any filler around either areas since. I’m fascinated with the scientific backing and endorsement – I’m sure if the “wonder serum” were derived from a fancier, rarer source, we’d all be far more engaged and pay multiples of what’s involved.

Details €850 per session, at The Dr Mulrooney Clinic, 69 Eglington Road, Dublin 4; drmulrooney.com.

The treatment: Emsella

What it’s good for Tightening pelvic floor muscles post-childbirth/menopause, to target stress incontinence.

The background Any woman who has experienced stress incontinence knows just how debilitating and embarrassing it can become. Whether it be life events (childbirth, exercise) or life stage (menopause), women can start to notice a decrease in pelvic floor strength, resulting in the all-too-familiar leaks, made worse by laughing, coughing, sneezing or movement.

What’s involved After an assessment, you simply sit, fully dressed, on a wide plastic chair for a series of 30-minute sessions. Over that period of time, the chair performs the equivalent of 11,000 Kegel exercises, causing the muscles to contract and release in a variety of motions and waves. It’s not painful, and you can certainly multitask through the treatment on your phone or a laptop.

How it works The Emsella chair uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic frequencies to stimulate the targeted pelvic floor muscle group to contract and retract. A treatment plan is created for each client, but could look like two sessions a week for a number of weeks.

After effects No downtime; it’s very much “plug and play”. Like any workout programme, improvements will become noticeable after a few sessions as the muscles gain strength.

Personal feedback Emsella offers a whole new lease of life. No longer do I need to worry about leaks and all the awful effects of having a good laugh with friends. It’s also a great first step for strengthening core muscles and forming firm foundations for weight training.

Details A series of six 30-minute Emsella sessions costs €1,500 including initial consultation at Platinum Physio, Honey Park, Glenageary Road Upper, Dublin; platinumphysiotherapy.ie.

The treatment: Softwave

What it’s good for Firming up slack skin, redefining facial contours, tightening jawlines.

The background Over the years, there have been a series of treatments designed to enable patients to veer away from invasive cosmetic surgery of the lifting and tightening variety. Many have been very expensive, and painful, some have required long periods of recovery. Sofwave sidesteps a lot of this by combining FDA-approved science with latest treatment and delivery methods. It can be used on many parts of the body, but is particularly popular, and good value, for the face.

What’s involved The treatment lasts about 40 minutes, but ahead of that, “before” photos are taken and the entire face and neck is numbed for 20 minutes with a strong topical anaesthetic cream. Once I was on the bed, my very charming therapist Zara moved around my face with a handheld device, which heated and then cooled at each point as it worked. We did my whole face, paying particular attention to my jawline. I won’t lie, occasionally the hottest moment could be tough, but instantly, then came the cooling reward and I immediately forgot. Everyone’s experience is different, and I’d rate it as “discomfort” more than “pain”. All the while, Zara was empathetic, great fun and worked with confidence.

How it works The radio frequency waves travel through the skin to hit an optimal, subdermal point above the muscle layer. This causes the skin to contract and respond by tightening (“Think of what happens when you throw steak on a barbecue,” said clinic founder Kerry Hanaphy, while I recoiled squeamishly, yet intrigued) and also triggers concentrated collagen production within the skin’s layers. The Sofwave machine identifies the strength of current necessary by reading the thickness of skin and subdermal tissue, and this can be adjusted by the therapist along the way, so it’s a highly bespoke procedure to ensure best outcomes. It’s a “one-and-done” treatment and results start to appear after about three weeks, continually evolving for approximately three months.

After effects No downtime at all; in fact, there’s a “Cinderella” effect immediately afterwards whereby the face looks super-fresh and glowing.

Personal feedback I can’t get over the improvement to my jaw area and the “turkey neck” that was becoming more and more obvious in selfies. It’s definitely sharper and tighter, and the photos taken in follow-up prove the point. Results should last a couple of years. I’m now curious to see how this might work on eyelids, as this really could be a way to keep thoughts of the surgeon’s knife at bay.

Details Sofwave, from €1,000 at Kerry Hanaphy Clinic, 27 South William Street, Dublin 2; kerryhanaphy.com.

The treatment: Definisse

What it’s good for Facial rejuvenation; adding vitality and suppleness for those who need a bit more “scaffolding” in the face, but don’t want to go the filler route.

The background You may have heard of Profhilo, a series of hyaluronic acid injections that “melt” under the epidermis to add glow and pillowy-softness to the face. It’s great for thirtysomethings, or those in the early stages of non-invasive treatments. As time goes by, however, effects can be less successful, or may not last very long, and parts of the face may need a bit more support; to have skin texture smoothed and plumped, but without the “filler” look. This is where Definisse steps in.

What’s involved Definisse is administered by needle, but in a series of small, slightly stingy, matrix-style injections. Pre-treatment, the face is numbed (not essential, but definitely makes things far more comfortable) after which, the treatable area is marked out. Then it’s down to business, and this is where someone with expert needle skills like Dr Sonja Bobart really comes into her own. Sonja worked deftly and speedily, taking a maximum of 15 minutes to complete the process.

How it works Definisse is a blend of hyaluronic acid and glycerol, combined to boost efficacy in plumping and hydrating skin. The solution sits under the epidermis in small bumps, which diffuse over about 48 hours (for me, it was less than 24 hours). In this time, the hyaluronic is drawing hydration to the area and the teeny injections have further triggered collagen production. Follow-up sessions are usually recommended.

After effects The bumps I’d been told about were pretty much insignificant and easily covered by make-up, which I could reapply after an hour. There was also a warning about bruising, but I experienced none in the two sessions I had. The needle pain wasn’t much (I’d rate it a four out of ten, and very fleeting) and there was zero downtime; this is definitely a treatment that can be sandwiched into a busy day.

Personal feedback I had Definisse done on the lower part of my face, around the chin and mouth area, as I’d noticed a deterioration in skin texture and elasticity and the beginnings of dreaded marionette lines. This is the first treatment I’ve tried that has actually tackled the issue head-on, delivering targeted results. There was an improvement within the first few days and the second treatment has enhanced the benefits further. I’ll never be a smooth-faced 20-year-old again, but I don’t want that. What I want is to banish the crepiness that was starting to occur, and Definisse has done that. While I was advised that three sessions should be enough for about 12-18 months, I think more regular top-ups might be needed, but I’m happy with that – price and convenience make it possible.

Details Definisse, €250 per session by Dr Sonja Bobart, D4 Medical; 95a Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin D4; d4medical.net.

The treatment: Exilis 360

What it’s good for This is a bit of a wunderkind of a machine, as it treats an abundance of aesthetic concerns for both face and body. It effectively treats everything from turkey neck and crepey skin around the eyes to love handles and saddle bags.

What’s involved Each area treated takes six-and-a-half minutes, during which the therapist works a handheld device quickly over and back multiple times, delivering heat, which is diffused deep down into layers under the skin. Usually a series of four treatments is recommended, a week apart.

How it works Exilis uses radio frequency and ultrasound by heating the body tissue to 42-43°C. Heat in the skin plumps up muscle, melts fat, and tightens skin by creating a gentle, thermal wound. It also brings blood flow to the area to make new collagen and elastin, whilst whisking away the melted fat to the lymph and kidneys.

After effects An immediate effect when used on the face, full results from between three and six months thereafter, and will be optimal for six months. Perfect for holidays, honeymoons, weddings, and overall pro-ageing.

Personal feedback My treatment (hips and bum) was totally painless and I’m thrilled with the results. I’ve more confidence and certainly notice a more streamlined difference in my clothes. The procedure is non-invasive, and requires no recovery time, so can be easily done during a lunch break.

Details A package of four Exilis 360 treatments starts at €1,800 from The Institute of Dermatologists, 10 Pembroke Place, Ballsbridge, Dublin D4; instituteofdermatologists.ie.

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