They say you get the face you deserve, and having passed a few milestone birthdays, the face that currently stares back at me from the mirror bears little resemblance to the thirty-something I know I am inside.
With hindsight, my skin would probably have appreciated a less hedonistic lifestyle than the one I gave it. Not sunbathing, not smoking, not drinking, certainly not laughing so much all might have helped.
Desperate vanity has driven me to avid readership of every anti-ageing article and miracle skin cream advertorial I can find.
Take it from me, creams, serums brighteners, elixirs and other lotions and potions do not work. I have succumbed foolishly many times to some manufacturer’s hype, going home purse lighter, hope in my heart, a tube of supposed magic clutched in my hand. Then the invariable disappointment when it merely moisturises rather than rolls back the years.
I am at the stage where I need a quick fix.
There are various anti-ageing routes but they take serious consideration. Plastic surgery is scary. There’s the pain, for one thing, and I still want to look vaguely like myself rather than like a member of a completely different species. Similarly, the odd, waxen appearance of Botox strikes me as too much like the work of a cold mortician’s hand.
No, it seems to me far more sensible to be zapped by a laser. I push to the back of my mind the vague misgivings that this is the same technology as the microwave and book an appointment for skin tightening with the anti ageing specialists at the Da Vinci Centre .
Einstein laid down the groundwork for lasers in 1917. His theories are completely beyond my comprehension, but I have a muddled notion, gleaned from science fiction novels, that they have something to do with speed, light and time. It seems rather appropriate or ironic, then, that the great man’s ideas should be used to turn back time for ageing women.
The laser, which in the most basic terms is a concentrated beam of light, has revolutionised the beauty industry with its ability to treat damaged and ageing skin without the down time.
As we age, elastin breaks down and we stop producing collagen. Collagen works hand-in-hand with elastin in supporting the body’s tissues and gives skin its strength, flexibility and resilience.
One of the ways to keep skin looking young is to stimulate collagen.
Here’s how the laser works:
The single-wavelength light energy on the laser targets fibroblasts in the dermis, which produce new collagen in response to the energy. Increased turnover of skin cells is also stimulated, helping to regenerate and replace damaged cells.
The Da Vinci Centre offers a skin-tightening treatment using a Candela laser. Candela has a long history in the beauty industry for being a pioneer and innovator in the use of lasers
Keri Goldinger, laser therapist at the Da Vinci Centre, tells me what she will be doing. “For skin-tightening, you make three passes over the areas you are targeting using a type of painting movement. The laser does not touch the skin.”
The single-wavelength light works by heating the skin, and Keri explains that they have found that heating to 40 degrees stimulates the collagen. As she does each area, she continually checks with a computerised gauge to see whether the correct temperature has been achieved.
I am getting my face, neck and chest area treated, and Keri says that the whole session will probably take at least two hours.
The less ares you get done the less time.
I am given goggles to wear, and she starts making sweeping motions over my forehead. It is not an unpleasant sensation, and Keri tells me each time when the temperature of 40 has been reached. As the session continues, I begin to anticipate the correct temperature as I feel my skin heating, almost like being in the sun. She continues around the sides of my face, around the chin area and the folds between the mouth and chin. Coming to the neck and chest area takes longer as my skin stubbornly refuses to heat to the correct degree. This surprises Keri because she says this area is usually quicker since the skin is thinner.
Apart from occasional heat, I feel no ill effects.
Keri tells me that for the best results you need at least four to six treatments spaced about two weeks apart, but people usually notice a difference after even one.
The best thing about laser is that it is cumulative; in about 28 days when my new collagen starts to arrive, I have great hopes that a butterfly will emerge.
Keri also says that if you have the full treatment, the results can last for a number of years with just the occasional top-up treatment.
Laser can also be used on other parts of the body, for instance, the tops of the arms, to tighten loose skin.
The whole treatment does take at least two hours.
Afterwards, as Keri applies cooling compresses to my skin, she explains about after-care. I might have redness later or feel heat in my skin, but actually neither happens. I am to drink lots of water and keep my skin hydrated, stay out of the sun that day and not do anything that requires exertion to avoid further heating up the skin.
She also reiterates her mantra about using a sunblock with SPF higher than 30 at all times since the sun destroys collagen and will spoil the work that has been done.
My skin does feel tighter, looks fresher, and surprisingly, the place where everyone notices the most improvement is the neck and chest area, which had been the most stubborn areas for Keri.
The results were extremely encouraging, considering that this was just one session, and who knows whether I will continue with another few … and maybe get closer on the outside with that thirty-something inside.