Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Anti-age with your whole body

It's fairly well-known that when it comes to anti-ageing prevention is better than cure, and there are many approaches we can take on a day-to-day basis to combat the ravages of time, all of which are basic and fairly well-documented: drink lots of water, exercise, moisturise, eat well, use sunscreen, don't smoke...

Given all of that, it's all very well for us young 'uns to be virtuous and say we'd never go under the knife. But how are we to know until we get there? One of my neighbours looks great in her late 50s/early 60s, but I wouldn't have known she'd had fillers if a little birdy hadn't told me (which just proves that cosmetic surgery doesn't have to make you look like you've been the wrong way through a vacuum). I know other ladies of a similar age who are considering treatments, and one of my colleagues in her early sixties certainly looks amazing after a few procedures (and you can tell these have been well done, for it took me a while to work it out, and she definitely doesn't wear a permanent expression of surprise on her face either).

And ladies considering plastic surgery are spoilt for choice. As well as the famous Botox, there are several other options, such as the more invasive nose job or facelift, fillers, or blepharoplasty (that's eyelid surgery to you and me). But what about more 'natural' options? After all, Botox is the most acutely toxic substance known to man, and some medical professionals have already responded to this concern through treatments such as Evolence, which uses pig collagen due to it being the closest possible to human collagen. 

But now there's a new kid on the block (well...kind has been around since 1975, after all, which is longer than even I have been *cough*). Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, or PRP, has also picked up a few more gruesome names in the mass media, such as 'Dracula therapy' or 'the vampire facelift'. However, all it does is take Evolence's idea a step further: instead of using pig collagen to plump up faces and reduce the appearance of lines, your own plasma from your body is used. And this treatment isn't just for older ladies, which the St Andrews-trained founder of La Maison de l'Esthetique, Dr Vincent Wong, also recommending the treatment for those who suffer with acneic skin, or have cellulite, sun damage or scarring.

The first treatment in the world to be 100% autologous (meaning the treatment is derived from the same person who's receiving the treatment - meaning it's closer to a skin graft than a blood transfusion), it's also perhaps up there with the quickest of them - from start to finish, Dr Wong promises that this only takes one hour. He also seems to be realistic, commenting that "heavy smokers and those who drink beyond the recommended limits are less likely to benefit from the treatment" and that like with most treatments a series of sessions is needed for the best results.

So how does it work? Here comes the science. Our blood is composed of two parts: the cellular part (with red and white blood cells) and the liquid (i.e., the plasma). In plasma, platelets are found, which release several healing-associated growth factors. During the treatment, a small amount of blood is taken and then separated so that the platelet-rich plasma can be extracted. This is then mixed with a calcium solution, which acts as an activator and stimulates wound healing and collagen production when injected back into the face. 

This more natural approach to beauty and skin repair can definitely seem appealing in the face of various chemical assailants found in other treatments and off-the-shelf skincare products (did you know, for instance, that some products contain caustic soda, which is also used in the home to strip paint and clear drains? Yep.). And this promising method of using DNA to repair skin also could have even greater consequences in, for instance, the world of athletics, where it is already being used as a treatment for injury.

With 3 sessions of PRP costing £1200 at Dr Wong's flagship Harley Street clinic, this isn't a cheap option in itself, but competes well with other methods of cosmetic surgery: fillers can cost up to £750 a session, for instance, while procedures such as a facelift can run into thousands of pounds. Even though I can't see myself having cosmetic surgery - mainly due to my chronic fear of needles - who knows what the future holds? And, either way, I'm all for newer and more advanced procedures like this one which rely less on artificial stuff and more on what our own bodies can achieve.

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