The Daily Mail try out Lee’s Vampire Facelift
Why I’m a sucker for the Vampire Facelift! It stings, it’s scary – and takes a big bite out of your budget. But it helps keep the stars (and our columnist) eternally young
Amanda Platell says she’s experienced ‘few things as frightening’ in her life
Anna Friel is one of the many celebrities who swear by the Vampire Facelift
It’s a £600 procedure which boosts creation of new blood cells and collagen
By Amanda Platell
Blood trickled down my face like raindrops down a window pane — so much blood that I can honestly say I’ve experienced few things as frightening in my life.
Admittedly I had volunteered to subject myself to a radical new treatment known as the Vampire Facelift and I had feared there might be some blood — but I hadn’t anticipated looking as though I’d been attacked by bloodsuckers and left with a face that bore a close resemblance to a novelty Halloween mask.
So why would anyone even think of putting themselves through such a procedure, you might ask?
I could blame it all on actress Anna Friel, 36, a beautiful woman whose youthful face belies her years. She is one of the many celebrities who swear by the Vampire Facelift and has been extolling the virtues of regular treatments, enthusing about what a difference they have made to her complexion.
But the truth is, I’d been swotting up on the VF some time before Ms Friel went public. Despite an eye-watering £600 price tag, the biggest relief is that it’s not a facelift at all and involves no knives, nips or tucks, but does have the rejuvenating effect of surgery.
The even better news? No incisor bites to the neck, no nocturnal rampaging, no garlic required.
And so I surrendered myself to Lee Garrett, an aesthetic nurse practitioner at Freedomhealth, the cosmetic clinic in London I’ve been using for years.
While I lay back listening to an anaesthetising Snow Patrol track on my iPod, dressed in a blue surgical gown, Lee applied a thick white cream to my face, neck and décolletage to numb the pain he was about to inflict upon me.
Waiting for the topical anaesthetic to kick in, I looked away as Lee took two vials of blood from my arm using a needle and syringe.
It didn’t hurt but I am squeamish, so it wasn’t an especially comfortable experience.
Lee then put the blood into a machine which spins it around at high speed for six minutes until the red and white blood cells have separated — a process that produces a plasma rich with platelets, or very small cells, which stimulate the growth of more cells.
The blood collection tube has three distinct parts and looks a bit like one of those old ice lollies — at the bottom are the dark red blood cells, in the middle are the white cells and at the top is the ‘liquid gold’, which are the platelets.
Only the platelets are reinjected back into the face, neck and decolletage and the rest is thrown away. This whole process has to happen quickly because the platelets need to be back inside the body within ten minutes, otherwise they coagulate and turn to jelly — which is exactly how my stomach felt at this point.
Lee extracted the plasma from the top of the two vials using a syringe, then injected it into the ‘trouble spots’ in my face — the wrinkles under my eyes, the ‘tram lines’ that run from my nose down to my mouth — and into my neck.
It was at that point that Lee held up the mirror to my face and all I could see were rivulets of blood running down it.
What on earth had I done to myself? And would my face ever recover from the gory mess it had so suddenly become?
I’d wanted to look like a dewy-faced A-list actress in the prime of her life, not like someone who was auditioning for a Hammer horror film. But for all the shock of that moment, I did feel the Vampire Facelift made good sense.
We’ve all read about the challenges and dangers of cosmetic surgery, and heard negative stories about Botox and facial fillers. By contrast, the VF is non-invasive and involves no foreign bodies. The restorative powers of a person’s blood being injected back into them were first discovered by the medical world and, in the case of the VF, by sports doctors.
They regularly inject an injured athlete’s blood back into a muscle to accelerate recovery. This helps to rebuild cells quickly and stimulates collagen, a protein which gives skin firmness and strength.
We lose about one per cent of our collagen every year from the moment we are born, so at 54 more than half of mine has gone.
I first heard about the VF when Dannii Minogue confessed to being a devotee. Her enthusiasm was echoed by Lee, who described it as the state-of-the art procedure when it comes to non-surgical facelifts.
With all those pin pricks and all that blood, it’s not a treatment for the squeamish. However, it’s no more painful than several other procedures I’ve had, including Pellevé (a wrinkle reduction system where the face is ironed) and the Blue Peel (an acid peel that leaves you looking like a Smurf).
It is undeniably expensive. You need three Vampire Facelifts — £1,800 in all — for the best results, at four to six-week intervals.
After that, a session is recommended every six months for general maintenance.
I’ve had it done twice now and I’ll definitely be going back for more. It’s about two months since my second session, and I can see a big difference in my face, especially around my eyes.
My skin is fresher and plumper, and there are fewer lines, especially on my neck and around my eyes.
The test of a good procedure is not that people can tell you’ve had something done — Anne Robinson’s facelift would be an example of that — but that they simply think you look well, happy and youthful.
My face also passed ‘The Brenda Test’. Brenda’s the make-up artist on the Sunday morning television show on which I sometimes appear.
Apart from Lee, Brenda’s the only person who ever sees my skin close-up. When I did the programme a couple of weeks ago, she said my skin looked amazing. I noticed it has also worked wonders on my neck, an area so vulnerable to the signs of ageing.
I’ve had it done twice now and I’ll definitely be going back for more. It’s about two months since my second session, and I can see a big difference in my face, especially around my eyes
The VF doesn’t give you a frozen Botox face, nor the unnaturally puffed-up cheeks which can result from badly done fillers.
I’ve never much liked having my blood taken, and having it reinjected back into me was an entirely novel experience, which did leave me feeling rather queasy.
But, nausea aside, it does soften and remove lines, especially around the eyes where wrinkles are the hardest to get rid of without surgery, and it definitely plumps up the skin.
Happily, there is very little downtime after the procedure, which was a relief. There was no bruising, and just a little puffiness which had gone within a couple of days.
I’m a convert to the Vampire Facelift and have already booked my next one in a month’s time. The fact that it doesn’t involve lead-lined coffins and low-flying bats is just another point in its favour.