IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands
IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands

Edaein OConnell

The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene
The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene

Oyindamola Animashaun

Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods
Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods

Sarah Gill

5 foolproof summer ‘fits
5 foolproof summer ‘fits

Sarah Finnan

The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about
The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about

Sarah Gill

Up your fitness game with our IMAGE Active event series
Up your fitness game with our IMAGE Active event series

IMAGE

This dreamy garden room extension in Santry is a gardener’s delight
This dreamy garden room extension in Santry is a gardener’s delight

Amanda Kavanagh

Inside this bright Gorey home on the market for €450,000 
Inside this bright Gorey home on the market for €450,000 

Sarah Finnan

WIN a trip for two to the South of France
WIN a trip for two to the South of France

IMAGE

6 Irish stylists on their summer wardrobe wishlists
6 Irish stylists on their summer wardrobe wishlists

Holly O'Neill

Image / Self / Health & Wellness

Tried & Tested: Secret Pro – the latest in anti-ageing and skin rejuvenation


By Laura George
22nd Jun 2024
Tried & Tested: Secret Pro – the latest in anti-ageing and skin rejuvenation

After reaching a milestone birthday, Laura George decided to take her skin and its assortment of plights to the experts.

I’m a soap, water, SPF and Botox girl at heart. Lazy, in other words. I’ve dabbled as you do with serums and potions but could never make any skincare routine stick for very long.

That’s not to say there haven’t been consequences: Very dark pigmentation spots (some of them the size of cannellini) primarily on the driver’s side where SPF was badly applied; enlarged pores and of course, skin laxity. The latter translates to puffy patches where my cheek fat pads have slipped as well as the inevitable crepey wrinkles under the eyes and saggy bits on the jawline and neck. 

With a big birthday recently under my belt (and apparently under my chin and eyes), and a major family occasion on the horizon, I decided it was time to at least explore what steps could be taken to make things better. It took a little while to get my courage up but the New Year found me chatting to Dr Catriona Ryan at The Institute of Dermatologists, to see what she’d recommend as a course of action.

It’s so interesting to talk to a professional who’s never met you: they tend to see and prioritise very different concerns. Too often people have a set idea in their heads about what they want, but it might be better served if they listened first. Just like you wouldn’t cling on to your natural birth plan if you needed an emergency C-section, you need to hear what the expert has to say and adjust accordingly. 

She immediately called attention to the discolouration under my eyes, which I hadn’t really consciously clocked, advising that it could be easily improved with the simple addition of a retinol to my almost non-existent skin routine. Dr Ryan explained that as we age, the skin under the eye becomes thinner hence the dark circles. She also explained that the whole area could be tightened with a procedure called Secret Pro. It would also tackle all my other concerns. I was all ears.

Secret Pro is a non-surgical treatment suitable for all ages that delivers a combination of radio frequency microneedling to stimulate collagen at the deepest levels and CO2 laser resurfacing to tackle the uppermost layers of skin. The procedure takes about an hour, for the entire face and eye area and has four to five days of downtime. Within a week there is usually some improvement in skin quality but the real benefits accrue over time: in three to six months new collagen will make a serious difference to the scaffolding of the face. The results last for 18 months to five years.

The word “downtime” has always terrified me because I’ve always associated it with pain. So my next questions were all about that. Dr Ryan said that treating the eye area was uncomfortable but bearable while it was happening and that there wouldn’t be any pain after the procedure. I wanted desperately to believe her but still wondered if I would be the outlier who twisted in agony. I pored over before and afters on the internet and watched Dr Ryan’s video diary of getting the procedure done herself over and over on her Instagram. The more I saw, the more confident I felt about going forward. Finally, the idea of hiding at home for a few days in a mini-lockdown actually started to sound like an added bonus rather than a negative.

Dr Ryan cautioned that Secret Pro would best be followed up with a bit of cryotherapy and a subsequent round of IPL to really get rid of the darkest lesions. She also suggested we look at injectables at a later date.

The treatment

The Institute of Dermatologists’s premises just off Herbert Park in Ballsbridge looks and feels like somewhere the Kardashians might happily rock up – in the best possible way. The medical rooms are up top, the Cosmetic Suite on the ground level. My husband dropped me off with my prescribed painkillers and antibiotics in hand and I was immediately treated to a generous slathering of numbing cream on every square inch of my face and neck. As soon as it worked its magic, my cheerful nurse and I headed into a treatment suite where she deftly inserted metal shields under my eyelids to protect them from the treatment. Some people are squeamish about this but it took a nanosecond and wasn’t at all sore.

The first pass of microneedling seemed only to take a few minutes and was minimally uncomfortable, even where I was expecting it to hurt the most such as the eye and neck areas. I began to relax and followed the nurse’s movements closely with the hand-held fan she provided but barely grasped the stress ball I’d been given. The CO2 laser wasn’t much worse, except in the eye area where it was tender. I realised then what the ball was for. In retrospect, if I’d known that was the only pain I’d feel, and then only for mere seconds, I could’ve been much, much braver. It was honestly the only sore bit of the whole five days.

Recovery

Day 1 (the day of procedure)

I laid low, while of course keeping my head upright as instructed. The first few hours, my skin felt extremely hot deep down – I borrowed the clinic’s fan so I could keep it trained on wherever felt the hottest non-stop (top tip: bring your own one with you). As the heat waned, certain skin areas began to feel tight and it was delicious to cover them in the Elta MD recovery gel provided.

Day 2 

I woke up red and puffy but was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t look worse. Freckles began to blacken (they’d eventually fall off a few days later) and less than 24 hours after the procedure, the top layer of skin began to slough off above the lips and at the hairline and jaw, which was very satisfying. Showering felt like real progress, too. 

Day 3

Threw on a hat and sunglasses (and SPF of course) and took a walk. On close examination, the microneedling scabs appeared more visible and the track marks of the machine made the skin feel sandpapery. Nothing a generous squirt of recovery gel couldn’t address.

Day 4

Some of the scabs and more dead skin came off, revealing a few ultra-smooth patches, which it were hard not to caress. The nose was first, then the lower sides of the cheeks. The rest of the sandpaper texture took another couple of days to go but disappeared completely with gentle cleansing by Day 5. It’s safe to wear light makeup at this stage but I opted for nothing but fresh air.

Day 5

Back to normal but skin texture is already visibly improved and the worst skin pigmentation has faded considerably to a point where it vanishes under the lightest tinted moisturiser. My daughter says my pores are smaller and my eyes look brighter and less tired than they looked even when I was fully rested before. Upper cheeks remain a tiny bit puffy but all in all, I’m absolutely delighted with the results so far and the real structural changes haven’t even begun to kick in. 

Other treatments to consider

Already emboldened by my Secret Pro experience, I’ve been looking at other treatments offered by the Institute of Dermatologists, especially Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Profhilo. PRP uses the growth factor from your own blood to amp up collagen production wherever it is injected and is really effective around the eye area. Profhilo is also an injectable but it addresses skin laxity across the whole face using stabilised hyaluronic acid. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be completely content with what Secret Pro delivers over the next few months… or maybe this is just the beginning.

 

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of IMAGE.

IMAGE Summer 2024

The Summer issue of IMAGE is here, and we’re taking the longer days as an opportunity to slow down, take stock, and luxuriate in the lull that summer brings. From laid-back looks to in-depth reads, there’s everything you need to set you up for the season. Plus: * Warm-weather style * Boho is back * In studio with Irish designer Sinéad O’Dwyer * Career success stories * Growing and foraging * Women in music * Reframing divorce * Tackle your tiredness * Summer beauty favourites * Bringing the outdoors in * Irish eco escapes * Garden getaways * and so much more… 

Have you thought about becoming an IMAGE subscriber? Our Print & Digital subscribers receive all four issues of IMAGE Magazine and two issues of IMAGE Interiors directly to their door along with access to all premium content on IMAGE.ie and a gorgeous welcome gift worth €142 from Skingredients. Visit here to find out more about our IMAGE subscription packages.