Painful, yes. But the new no-knife facelift delivers! Like Shirley Ballas, INGE VAN LOTRINGEN is delighted with the results of her own pioneering, anti-ageing tweakment
Go on, admit it: when we see someone emerging from a beauty treatment looking decidedly more radiant and toned, we are intrigued. And tempted. And so it was just recently with Strictly judge Shirley Ballas’s non-surgical ‘facelift’.
The 62-year-old posed for a slew of before and after snaps and said: ‘I wanted to look my very best but I didn’t want to go under the knife. This is the best I’ve looked in years!’
Ballas’s glowing results are thanks to NeoGen Plasma, an energy-based treatment that stimulates skin cell renewal by means of applying intense heat to the collagen-generating deeper dermal layers.
The principle is similar to that of many laser, radiofrequency and ultrasound treatments in that skin is ‘wounded’ in order to force a ‘healing’ response that results in plumper and brighter skin.
Inge (pictured undergoing treatment) tried HArmonyCa – the first injectable that claims to tackle thinning, slackening skin and wrinkles in the mid and lower face
Such treatments can be brilliant for the right person but if, like me, you have thin, reactive skin (mine looks almost transparent) it could suffer damage which risks ageing, rather than rejuvenating, your face.
It’s why I prefer to get my anti-ageing boost from fillers. In expert hands, carefully placed fillers can invisibly restore lost volume in areas like the temples, the brow and under-eye hollows.
But until now, the technology has not been there for dermal fillers to treat the soft tissues of the lower cheek and jaw area; nor has it been able to smooth wrinkles in that area.
But it’s the lower half of the face where skin thinning and sagging is most apparent. And, let’s face it, a jowly face really gives the age game away.
So my ears pricked up when I heard of a new product called HArmonyCa (complete with obligatory convoluted spelling), which is the first injectable that claims to tackle thinning, slackening skin and wrinkles in the mid and lower face.
That’s because it’s a ‘hybrid’ of two technologies: a subtle filler as well as a long-term rejuvenating injection, spiked as it is with an agent proven to induce the production of collagen and elastin (the fibres that give skin its fullness and spring, and stop it creasing).
Due to the low density of the filler and the application method, the risk of over-filled ‘hamster cheeks’ is apparently non-existent.
Intrigued, I booked in with surgeon and cosmetic physician Dr Apul Parikh, one of the first in the country to offer the procedure. ‘This is not a treatment aimed at those in their 20s and 30s,’ says Dr Parikh. ‘The main target is “concertina” lines [those big-smile lines that spread from the corners of your mouth], which generally form and set past the age of 40.’
Thanks to NeoGen Plasma, Shirley Ballas, 62 (pictured), said: ‘This is the best I’ve looked in years!’
The hybrid filler also helps reinforce and ‘thicken’ both the feel and look of cheek and jaw skin because a thin layer of product is ‘spread under a large area of skin lacking torque and bounce’, he says.
The procedure takes an hour. Dr Parikh says I’ll see a noticeable improvement in the laughter lines and tone of my cheeks, with full results evident after six weeks.
My face is marked with injection points: I need two in each cheek. The HArmonyCa filler (two-parts hyaluronic acid gel and one-part collagen-boosting calcium hydroxyapatite microspheres) ‘incorporates the anaesthetic lidocaine, to numb the pain of the injections’.
This is a relief when I see the terrifyingly long cannula that is about to be inserted under my skin. It looks like a massive needle but is in fact a flexible hollow tube with small holes along its length. Once under the skin, the product is pushed out of the openings along the cannula and spread in a ‘windscreen wiper’ movement under the entire cheek and jaw area.
That really doesn’t sound like it’s going to be fun, but the swiping around of the thing under my skin is initially surprisingly painless. Apparently there is space between the skin layers so the tube doesn’t do damage. The numbing agent helps as well.
It does get sore when it gest to the outer edge of my face near the ear and jaw but, fortunately, it’s over before I can wail for a time-out. A smaller area near the jowl region is treated separately, after which I have to grit my teeth for it all to be repeated on the other side.
The result from the filler is instant: there’s a subtle but noticeable added width to my cheeks, making them look less hollow, and my skin feels thicker and firmer.
My main nose-to-mouth lines are still there, but the finer laughter lines that radiate out from them have softened.
Dr Parikh rounds the treatment off by putting me under his Celluma LED light canopy for half an hour — renowned for calming inflammation and helping skin heal faster.
Four months on, it lives up to the hype. For a non-surgical procedure, that offers a long-lasting result that I expect is going to revolutionise the aesthetics industry. It may even be worth a ten from Shirley.
HArmonyCA costs £1,200 apulparikh.co.uk. Available in clinics around the UK, too.