What do you say when someone asks if you'd like to regrow your face? As Elles Beauty Extremist, I expect weird and wonderful offers. Every week sees my inbox besieged by news of yet more treatments that seem to defy both common sense and scientific creditability. Which I choose to accept sometimes seems entirely arbitrary: injecting my own blood back into my cheeks? transplanting hair from my head into my brows? Using a supercharged laser to tighten up me knees? Hell, Why not? But this seems to go beyond all reasons .
Only the fact that its been proposed by Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi from the London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic, a man I've already let near my face with a needles stops me pressing delete.
Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi doesn't just attend to the rich, famous and vain- he works in the NHS, reconstructing the faces of cancer patients, as well as a private clinic in Harley Street. He is a doctor who understands that, despite its frivolous nature, cosmetic surgery is still a very serious business indeed. What he offers me is Scupltra.
To get scientific, Sculptra is crystallized ploy L-Lactic acid, reconstructed with saline and then injected deep into the face. There, it stimulates the production of collagen- which provides the support structure for the skin- and plumps everything up. Its been called the liquid face lift, but its a actually a gradual, natural process. It takes several sessions over a period of three to six months before you see results, which then lasts for about four years. Its not an entry level procedure: theres nothing 'lunch hour' or 'quick fix' about this. Instant gratification doesn't come into it. In non-technical terms. Sculptra isn't filler. It doesn't puff up the face or give that over-stuffed look that injectable hyaluronic acid can. Sculptra is, to all intent and purposes, invisible once the water in which its; dissolved has been absorbed. A couple of days after treatment/, nothing, No clue, But deep beneath the skins dermis, its little molecules have set to work.
Unlike hyaluroinc fillers, Scupltra cant really be used to excess. It slowly restores volume that has been lost through ageing or dieting- no more and no less.It smoothes out wrinkles and pads out hollows, but it cant give chipmunk cheeks or pillowy lips. its subtle. This is partly why its not all that popular. 'Dermal fillers offer an immediate result, but with Sculptra , that "wow" effect takes time' sys Dr Al-Ayoubi.'Patients are reluctant to wait. Its a lot of money to spend and then see nothing right away'.
In America, and now increasingly in Britain, the new breed of cosmetic junkie wants her work to be noticed. You could call it the Lindsay Lohan effect: the aim is to look just a little bit fake, a little bit done.
Having the right stuff from the right surgeon is becoming s status sy,mbol, like the perfect shade of Celine handbag or that Burberry aviator straight from the runway. But Scupltra is the opposite of this. It doesn't have the drama of most cosmetic -medicals. Theres no grand unveiling, nothing to show off, Theres no oozing, blood or bruising. Scuplra primary medical purpose is to rebuild the faces of those suffering from Aids or cancer, and its cosmetic use is just a spin-off of this aim. It lacks addictive glamor. That doesn't bother me.
Theres nothing wrong with my face. Not really. maybe i look a bit tired . maybe i look a bit drawn. But it don't want to be stuffed fat with filler. i simply want to look like myself on a really good day. Nothing more than that.
'In some cases, we can improve on what a patient had' explains Dr Ayham Al- Ayoubi. 'Not many - it really depends on the loss of volume the face. Its not being rude to say that you proabably looked fresher and better 10 years ago. Scupltra takes you back naturally to that state. I wouldn't expect anything better than that'.
And so i find myself with a thick, cold anesthetic cream plastered over my face while the Scupltra is prepared. Dr Al-Ayoubi angles a bright lamp towards me. Then he starts. The needle stabs in and out , over and over, a series of quick little pricks. Its not the superficial sting of Botox: this is a much more intense sensation. It feels serious. 'You see, its not hurting' assert Dr Ayoubi, injecting me for the umpteenth time. He's right. Of course, its not exactly pleasant, but everytime he takes the needle out., his assistant presses ice pack to the area so it never really feels painful.
Once he is finalized Dr Ayoubi covers my face in aloe gel and vigorously massages it in. It looks swollen, a little red. My skin feels on fire. By the time i get home, however, theres nothing left to see.
I return over the next couple of months for more treatments, each spaced four weeks apart. After every procedure, I have to massage my face to make sure that the Scupltra doesn't form into granules beneath the skin, a possible side effect, though Dr Al-Ayoubi syay that in 10 years of carrying gout the treatment, 350 patients year, he has never seen this happened.
'I know the anatomy of the face very well' he assures me 'cosmetic doctors are scared to inject deeply-but actually , the deeper under the dermis you go, the safer it is. Nerves and blood vessels are all near the surface. This way theres less bruising , bleeding or chance of lumps and bumps'.
I notice nothing after the first injections of
Sculptra a couple of small bruised, not much more. I pretty much forget that I am having anything done at all. Dr Ayoubi point soon makes sense:you really have to trust someone whose essentially injecting expensive salt water into your face.
After a few months, I being to see some small, subtle changes. Then I see bigger changes, definite changes. Maybe I look a lot less tired. Maybe I look a bit less drawn . Its hard to be specific- it happens slowly, really slowly. It is as if the aging process has been reversed, tie ticking backwards, all its work undone. it takes five months to be sure.
Like I say, I get a lot of weird and wonderful offers. I mean, re-growing your won face? Who would buy In to that? But sometimes- jut sometimes you have to suspend disbelief.
To view Dr Ayoubi in the media click here.