It’s the facial that stirs up all kinds of feelings; intrigue, confusion, delight, fear.
Kim Kardashian kicked off the conversation a few years back when she posted a Instagram snap, mid-treatment, of her blood-stained face. And the beauty world hasn’t stopped talking about it since.
Designed to soften lines, minimise pores and make skin plumper than a baby’s… (well nearly), the Platelet Rich Plasma treatment – otherwise known as ‘PRP’ – is supposed to be a game-changer for anyone over 30 (a milestone at which our natural collagen levels begin to drop) who wants their chops perking up without fillers or Botox.
“But what on earth does it involve?” I hear you ask (shriek). And what’s up with all the blood? Does it hurt? Is it safe? Essentially, it’s a super-charged micro- needling treatment that celebrates the glorious stuff running through our veins. And yes, when carried out by trained medical professionals, it’s very safe (only your own, natural plasma is injected into the skin, eliminating the chance of an allergic reaction).
The science behind it is pretty nifty. Your blood is taken and separated into two: plasma – the clear, fluid part – and red and white blood cells. The plasma is then injected back into the body (the face, but sometimes under the eyes too), helping to stimulate collagen production and encourage a plumper, smoother, more youthful complexion.
As you’d expect, the needle side of things causes a bit of bleeding – hence the treatment’s Halloween-ish nickname. But in reality, it’s far less gory than you might think. And definitely less harrowing than Kim K’s ghoulish pic.
For mine, I head to Quay Aesthetics – Whitley Bay’s new luxury skin clinic.
Here, Bethany Hoyle, a trained specialist in semi- permanent makeup, and husband, Dr James Hoyle, who is fully-qualified in cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics, offer a number of advanced non-surgical facial treatments, alongside cosmetic dentistry, health-boosting IV drips, semi-permanent makeup, LVL Lash Lift treatments and more.
The process itself isn’t exactly relaxing, I’ll be honest, but Bethany and James do everything they can to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
Before the PRP action begins, I’m whisked away to the clinic’s ‘relaxation’ room, where James takes my blood and Bethany treats my chops to a layer or two of numbing cream. The treatment itself only lasts around 20 minutes, give or take, but you’re encouraged to kick-back and let the cream work its magic for at least 45 minutes.
During this time, I advise taking full advantage of your surroundings, like I do. Sink into the heated massage chair, make your way through the stack of glossy magazines and savour a cuppa – or glass of fizz if you fancy it.
Before you know it, you and your frozen face will be in the chair ready for the show to begin.
Once there, all that’s left to do is recline and let James get to work and show off his needling skills.
My ‘problem’ area is targeted the most; the slightly scarred skin on my cheekbones where my teenage acne set up camp. My forehead, chin and mouth area – the ‘smile line’ zone – are also given some attention.
The pain varies, depending on whereabouts the needles strike. Somewhere in between a sharp scratch and a sting (especially when the plasma is released into the skin), in my opinion, the sensation isn’t too dissimilar to the feeling of getting a tattoo.
It’s definitely not unbearable – I don’t wince or need to stop for a breather – but even with the numbing cream, it’s not the most pleasant feeling. The good news, though, is that each injection lasts seconds and, in reality, you don’t actually bleed that much. A few drops at the most. There’s nothing to be afraid of here, folks.
Don’t believe the (bad) hype. The only thing gimmicky about this treatment is the name. At Quay Aesthetics, you’re in safe hands. Are there needles involved? Just a few. Is it uncomfortable? I’d be lying if I said no. But is it worth it? Yes.
On reflection, post-treatment, my skin looked a hundred times better than I thought it would. Google Images told me I’d emerge from the chair sore, bloody and perhaps even a little bruised (note: stay away from the internet before you visit), but the reality was very different.
Apart from a little redness, a bit of tenderness on the cheeks and one or two teeny-tiny pin-prick marks on my chin and around the mouth (all of which had vanished by the next morning), my skin was in great shape. Noticeably smoother and more taut – especially on the forehead. And that was just after a couple of hours. The results got better as the weeks went on, which is one of PRP’s biggest selling points – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
As my skin began to heal itself (injecting plasma into the face tricks the body into thinking there’s been an injury and so ramps up the skin’s natural collagen-making process), my complexion appeared brighter and more even in tone.
As a little extra, you’re given a small bottle of your very own plasma to use for post- treatment care – which I advise you use. Don’t fret – it might seem a bit gimmicky, but it looks, smells and works like any high-end serum you’d buy off the shelf. Our bodies are clever things.
Fast-forward to the present day (over a month later) and my stubborn acne scars remain, of course, but the overall texture of my skin is considerably smoother and tighter. Friends, family and co-workers tell me my skin is ‘glowier’ and I’m convinced my pores are smaller, too. A real win if you’re a shiny-skinned gal like me.
My verdict? Forget the bloodbath rumours and take the plunge. The long-lasting results are scarily good.
PRP is priced at £180. For mature skin, or those with skin issues such as pigmentation, scarring or rosacea, Quay Aesthetics recommend three treatments over a six-week course. For those under 30, one treatment should provide results for up to nine months. Consultations are free.
For more information, or to book, call 0191 691 1328 or visit quayaesthetics.com