Would you pay £1,450 for an agonising Neck lift? It claims to magically regenerate wrinkly skin — and our guinea pig says it (eventually) works
- Alice Hart-Davis visited Dr Saira Vasdev for a procedure which regenerates skin
- She was given injection to soften lines on her neck and to improve skin quality
- She revealed the injection caused her skin to swell like insect bites initially
- Alice was impressed with the results eight weeks after the first set of injections
- The £1,450 procedure improves skin elasticity and smoothness for six months
As the first needle eases its way into the thin, but surprisingly resilient, skin of my neck, I can’t help wincing. It is not comfortable.
I had brushed away offers of anaesthetic cream, not wanting to keep everyone — photographer, make-up artist and Dr Saira Vasdev, who had her needles at the ready — waiting for the 20 minutes it would take to work. Besides, I had tried a version of this same procedure in my face before, and it was so quick and easy that I hardly felt it.
But the neck is different, it seems. As Dr Vasdev continues undaunted with the first injection, I’m regretting my haste. I am all too aware of what is going on and when a doctor is poking a very sharp needle into your neck, what with all the veins and windpipe and other crucial stuff that’s in there, you are well advised to hold very still.
I rattle through my list of tricks, honed by long practice, for how to breeze through uncomfortable procedures. There’s deep, noisy yoga breathing, that works nicely, but that tends to make other people think I’m going to pass out.
Alice Hart-Davis (pictured left) visited Dr Saira Vasdev (pictured right) for the latest procedure able to reduce the signs of ageing on the neck
Or there’s putting my mind somewhere else entirely, like on a beautiful beach at sunset, which is hugely relaxing, but makes other people think I’m asleep. I settle for digging a thumbnail surreptitiously into the pad of my middle finger, which hurts so much it takes my mind off my neck, but keeps me in the here and now.
Why, oh, why have I decided that having a needle-based treatment on my neck is a brilliant idea? Well, the middle-aged neck is not a pretty thing. I don’t despair of mine in the way that the fabulous, late Nora Ephron did. She titled her 2006 book of essays I Feel Bad About My Neck, and her wit and wisdom struck a chord with millions.
Necks are a terrible giveaway of age. Even if you have looked after your face, you are unlikely to have paid such scrupulous attention to your neck, and besides, the skin on your neck is different.
It’s thinner, for a start, which means it collapses more easily into wrinkles and folds, a process that is accelerated because of the way we twist, turn, stretch and compress our necks the whole time. It doesn’t have as many oil glands as the face to help keep it supple.
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I have looked after my neck properly — at least for the past 20 years since I started writing about skincare and dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe advised me that whatever skincare and sunscreen I was using should be deployed from the hairline to the breastbone.
So I haven’t ignored it, yet it looks older than my face. The ‘necklace line’ creases, where its folds are more entrenched with each passing year, and the surface has developed an unlovely crosshatch pattern, which is distinctly old lady.
Of course, there are neck creams a-plenty. My favourite of these is the Prai Ageless Neck & Decolletage cream. Even though it only costs £20 at Boots, it manages to make any neck look smoother and fresher and works in just a week.
But creams only have a temporary, cosmetic effect. What I wanted was something that would stimulate the skin to renew itself. And the neck is a notoriously hard area to treat.
Alice (pictured before) was given two sorts of injections – one to reduce the appearance of lines on her neck and another to improve the quality of her skin
‘Just look at the anatomy,’ says Dr Vasdev. ‘In the face we have thicker skin, more bone, more fat pads. The skin on your neck is thinner, the bone — your spine — is towards the back and there is little fatty tissue, so the architecture of the neck is much more vulnerable to ageing, and we haven’t nailed it yet with treatments.’
Until now. Possibly.
The new treatment Dr Vasdev is giving me involves two sorts of injections, one to fill and soften the more obvious lines on my neck, and the second to improve the quality of my skin.
The first is with a special type of filler from a brand called Aliaxin, which she is injecting into my necklace lines, the worst of the horizontal creases.
Like most brands of injectable filler (you might have heard of other ones such as Juvederm, or Restylane), Aliaxin comes in a range of thicker and thinner formulations, depending on what it is to be used for.
If you want to give more underlying structure to the cheekbones, for instance, you would want a thick, supportive gel, whereas in the lips, you would want to use something lighter and thinner in texture.
The type of Aliaxin that Dr Vasdev is using in my neck is called Shape And Restore and she has chosen this product because it is fluid and flexible, so it won’t look lumpy under the thin skin of my neck. Even better, it can stimulate collagen growth in the skin in the areas where it is placed. This takes half a dozen injections along the lines and I’m mightily relieved when it’s over.
The second set of injections I am looking forward to, and not because I’m a masochist where these treatments are concerned. These are with a product called Profhilo, which isn’t a filler, but a ‘bio-remodelling agent’.
Unlike Botox, which can relax over-tight muscles in a stringy neck, but can’t change the quality and firmness of the skin, this revolutionary substance acts as a subcutaneous skin conditioner, stimulating the production of the body’s own elastin (which keeps skin springy), collagen (which keeps skin firm) and hyaluronic acid (which keeps skin hydrated) from beneath the skin’s surface.
Alice (pictured after) claims the wrinkles on her neckline were noticeably smoother eight weeks after the procedure
It sounds like science fiction, but it has been proven to work in clinical trials, which is why I’m keen to get this in my neck.
More elastin means tighter skin, and better hydrated skin means it will wrinkle more slowly, so it’s a preventative treatment for the future as well as a restorative one for now.
Profhilo is runny stuff, so runny that all Dr Vasdev has to do to get it into my skin is place five injections at strategic points on either side of my neck, from where it will disperse evenly beneath the surface of my skin. These injections sting a bit and swell up like insect bites.
What with that and the Aliaxin jabs, my neck looks like I’ve had a run-in with a vampire, all red, blotchy and full of small holes.
I’m delighted to say the bites had gone down by the following evening, leaving only one small bruise, which fades over a week.
A month later, I return to see Dr Vasdev. There’s no obvious change in my neck, but then this treatment doesn’t promise any improvements until a month after the second round of treatments.
That’s because it is stimulating the growth of stronger new skin tissue and it takes time. She administers a second round of injections and off I go with my coat collar turned up.
By week eight, I am convinced there is a definite softening of those necklace wrinkles and I suspect that the skin is a tad tighter, too.
‘Can I have a feel?’ asks Dr Vasdev. She gentle plucks up the skin on my neck and rolls it between her fingers. ‘The quality of your skin has definitely improved, and so has that crepey texture. We weren’t trying to transform your neck but to improve the elasticity, smoothness and the neck lines as well, and it’s a preventative measure.’
It seems she’s right, as another month on, the skin looks more resilient and smoother.
The big question is, is it £1,450 worth of improvement, even if it will last me a good six months? Not unless you’re in the habit of spending that sort of money on your face, clearly.
But if you are, or if you win the lottery, it could be a wise strategy because there comes a point where a well-maintained face starts to look ridiculous atop a neck that is clearly years older. Obviously, a roll-neck, a silk scarf and a good cream would cost a lot less. But if you’re into investment injections, it could be just the thing for you. Just take my advice and don’t wave away the anaesthetic cream.
5 OF THE BEST NECK CREAMS
Bare Minerals Smoothing Neck Cream bareminerals.co.uk
For reducing the appearance of horizontal neck lines, this fragrant product uses plant extracts to boost the skin’s elasticity and firmness.
Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Creme, johnlewis.com
If you have dehydrated skin, this is the neck cream for you. Rich, hydrating with SPF 15.
Prai Ageless Throat & Decolletage Creme, boots.com
Formulated with hyaluronic acid to help restore elasticity, and plump and firm the skin.
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Neck and Décolleté cream, elizabetharden.co.uk
SOME 91 per cent of women reported smoother skin on their neck and chest in trials.
By Terry Liftessence Neck Cream, spacenk.com
Contains red algae to stimulate collagen and hyaluronic acid production to smooth wrinkles and ease redness.
Profhilo (£875 for two treatments) and Aliaxin (£400 for 1ml, £700 for 2ml), or £1,450 together, at the Waterhouse Young clinic in Devonshire Street, London (waterhouseyoung.com).
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