In memory of the vampire facial
I saw in the news last week that the “vampire facial” – an icky procedure that involves drawing your own blood, spinning it in a centrifuge to extract the plasma and reinjecting the plasma into your face – has been banned in Dubai beauty salons.
A small part of me is sad it’s no long allowed. As long as the procedure’s done by a qualified doctor (as opposed to a beauty salon therapist) and done under sterile conditions, it’s a great weapon in the 40-something’s anti-aging arsenal.
I know because… (Mum, look away)… I tried it.Last year.
I’ve been toying with writing about it for a long time and I never quite get around to it. It sounds so disgusting. How vain must I be to want to try it? How desperate? But, look, I’m well on my way down that slippery slope to looking 60 when I’m only 43 and, to me, it was a better bet than filling my head with things like Botox or fillers. At least it’s natural. It’s your own plasma! There’s nothing artificial about it.
I did it while DH was away.
It was much harder than I thought it would be. Sitting in the room having my blood drawn, I wanted to get up and run. Every part of me was screaming to leave.
“Everyone who has it likes it,” the doctor told me reassuringly (yes, she was a proper doctor). “They come back again and again.”
We agreed I’d have the entire harvest of plasma injected around my eyes instead of a “facial”. I have hollow eyes, sunken eyes, black under-eye circles that never go away. The plasma would apparently be massively beneficial to this area, plumping it up without so much as a sniff of Juvederm.
“How many injections will it take?” I asked, imagining two each side.
“Depends,” said the doctor. “Maybe 30?”
Thirty injections under my eyes? With no anaesthetic? And a school run to do three hours later.
“Will there be swelling?” I asked.
“Maybe a little,” she said. “But just for a few days.”
The injections were not as bad as I thought. Only one made me jump. A nurse kindly numbed the area with an ice cube before each jab while I squirmed on the treatment bed and tried to visualise myself drinking cocktails on a beach in Bali. Needles near eyes make me feel sick.
When the 30 were done, the doctor handed me a mirror. I don’t know what I expected to see: plump, dewy skin, maybe? What I did see was the face of someone who’s been through the patio doors without opening them. Dried blood, puffiness, bruising, swelling. I was unrecognisable.
“Bye,” said the doctor, and I lowered my sunglasses over my bashed-up eyes and drove home.
It’s funny how easy it is to get away with things like this in Dubai. We’re blessed that we’re able to wear sunglasses all the time.
“Prescription,” I told people if they noticed me wearing sunglasses indoors. “Eye infection. Can’t wear my lenses.” (To be honest, this was true: I couldn’t wear my lenses – my eyes were too swollen to get them in.)
DH came home. I pre-warned him, but still: “Oh darling, what have you done?” he asked as I removed the sunnies and showed him my swelling, which had now bruised, too, leaving me with two yellow-black eyes, pricked with needle marks.
If you’d asked me at that point if I’d do it again, I’d have laughed like a hyena and said “Not even if you paid me in handbags.”
But on the second night I massaged some arnica gel under my eyes and, by the third morning, the swelling had gone and the bruising could be disguised with makeup. A week later I looked like I’d had 12 hours sleep every night of my life and never ever drank Sauvignon Blanc with a straw. The skin under my eyes was pinker, plumper; the effect was great. And, lest you forget, 100% natural.
This was nearly 11 months ago. If you asked me now if I’d do it again, I’d say yes. Three days of swelling was worth the result. Only I can’t go back because it’s now banned. Shame.