Top Santé’s editor Katy Sunnassee is tempted by a new treatment to see whether the skin on her neck and face can be lifted and tightened.
[Pictured: Editor Katy (left) with Dr Nyla Raja who offers ULTRAcel skin tightening]
Having reached the milestone age of 40, and being as interested as ever in beauty treatments and products said to rejuvenate, I wanted to know whether a new-generation laser treatment could offer a skin tightening effect to my neck, which I’d started to notice had become a bit lax.
I first notices real changes in my skin at age 35: a heaviness in my eyelids, which never used to have a crease in them but which all of a sudden did; loss of plumpness in my cheeks; and a loosening of the skin under my chin. I remember the moment I first noticed the latter: it was after having taken a shower, as I always wipe the water off my body to a) avoid excess water on the floor and b) not completely soak my towel. I was doing my usual wipe-down routine, which ends with wiping from left to right under my chin, and on this occasion instead of wiping straight across a taught surface, the skin seems to drag along with my fingers! Next, I noticed it when drying my hair. Looking in the mirror with my head tipped to the side, I was shocked to see a vertical crease from jaw to mid-neck – that had never been there before! I don’t know why I was shocked exactly – after all, we all get older and it’s a natural process, and in Top Santé we celebrate growing older in a healthy, natural way.
However, I think, foolishly and naïvely, I had never imagined myself getting and looking older. During the ‘spring’ of my 20s, I’d taken my health, my fitness level, my skin, my hair and my looks in general for granted, rarely thinking ahead to how I might one day look and feel. And even though I’d come across a Dermalogica leaflet in 2005 about AGEs – advanced glycation end products caused, to name one reason, by eating too many carbs, which damage your collagen – I still stuffed my face with chocolate and sweets, oblivious to their cumulatively damaging effects not just on my skin but my teeth and gut, too.
But back to now… and I’m reading an email about ULTRAcel – a non-invasive way to tighten and rejuvenate skin. I’m all for the non-invasive part as I’m a wimp when it comes to needles, but I’ll happily try the latest lotions, potions, face masks, facials and laser gadgets any day.
What is ULTRAcel?
ULTRAcel, offered by Dr Nyla Raja at her clinics at 1 Harley Street and her new flagship Medispa in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, is a new-generation device offering three types of treatment for skin tightening and lifting as well as addressing fine lines and wrinkles.
The technology combines ultrasound, radiofrequency and, if you want it, microneedling – you can have any one or a combination of these – designed to target all layers of skin. The first uses high-intensity focused ultrasound emitted to 4.5mm, which reaches your skin’s ‘SMAS’ layer; this is your skin’s foundation. The ultrasound causes thermal damage to fascia, the SMAS layer, fibrous tissue in the fat layer and the boundary layer that connects to the dermis above it. It’s the subsequent wound healing process that causes tightness to the skin over the course of a few months, so best results are seen some month after the session.
The second option with ULTRAcel targets the dermis layer, in the middle of your skin, via microneedles; the third, using radiofrequency, targets the epidermis and dermis.
Ultrasound and radiofrequency
As I’m not a fan of the needles, I go for a combo of ultrasound and radiofrequency to offer a double-pronged approach of both tightening the top layer of skin and lifting the deeper foundational layer. This combo of treatments means no downtime – so I’m not paranoid about looking weird when I step back out into the streets of London.
For the most part of the 45-minute treatment it feels like a relaxing facial. Only on one side does it start to get a bit hot and ‘ouchy’ at times – they say one side is always more sensitive. The therapist covers not only my neck and jawline but also cheeks, temples and above my eyes.
My cheeks do go red afterwards but I’d expect that as they always do, no matter what sort of facial treatment I have.
No down time
Straight after the session my skin looks fresher and feels super smooth, thanks also to the cream applied afterwards. I think I can discern some tightness in the jaw area – I’m told effects can be immediate but the best results come over a matter of weeks and months.
A few days later my cheeks and jaw feel a bit tender to the touch, as if they’re bruised inside. I suspect this is because the skin there is very thin and it’s a boney area, so when the head of the treatment wand is pressed into each section, it’s easy to cause bruising. There’s absolutely no outward sign of bruising though.
ULTRAcel is only meant to be a once-a-year treatment – some clients reportedly fly in from Europe just to have it – and so the big benefit is not needing repeat visits, which is god if you’re time poor like I am. And the effects last 12-18 months. I’ll update this post in a few months to say whether or not I or others have noticed improvements…