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FRANKEN-FACIAL?

There’s a new treatment that combines both science and the touch of a master. Ingeborg van Lotringen tries the needle and thread facial

Call me demanding, but I have never put much stock in having someone administer a succession of unctions, moist towels, a blast of steam and some extractions to my face. A traditional facial like this feels a lot like my daily skincare routine — oh wait, it is my daily skincare routine. I know, when you see a professional, the elements of touch, attention and ‘me time’ come into it, making all the difference to an awful lot of people. But I just lie there thinking, ‘I could do this myself’, and feeling cheated.

Me, I want something from my facial treatment I couldn’t possibly turn my own hand to. Something that performs beyond skincare and builds lasting resilience rather than a superficial ‘glow’ that’s gone the next morning. So when ‘injectable moisturisers’ were introduced half a decade ago, my ears pricked up: here was a way to get essential skin-smoothing, brightening and plumping agents beyond the surface of the skin, resulting in sustained cell regeneration that could actually halt the ravages of time (for a bit).

Out of a number of them, Profhilo soon became the name to drop, its ability to rid skin of fine lines and make it look like you’re moisturising it 12 times a day far exceeding the effects of any bog-standard facial. The stuff is made of ‘thermally cross-linked’ (don’t ask) hyaluronic acid (a water-binding agent) that ups skin’s hydration levels long-term and is proven to stimulate four types of youth-giving collagen and elastin. Importantly, it’s very different from fillers, which inflate bits of your face — Profhilo doesn’t.

Having it, it must be said, is hardly a pampering treat: you get 10 really rather painful jabs in your face, all leaving preposterous lumps that take a day to flatten (before that, you look like a bee keeper on a very bad day) as the potion slowly spreads under your skin. And er, that’s the extent of it.

At times, it’s left even me wondering if something a bit less clinical couldn’t be fashioned out of a really good treatment like this — and now it has. The Pietro Simone Anti-Ageing Cotton Thread Revitalising Facial x Profhilo (a catchy name it’s not) was developed by aesthetic practitioner Dr Pradnya Apté precisely to offer patients the combined benefits of clinically proven Profhilo and an indulgent but effective laying-on of hands in the form of top facialist Pietro Simone’s proprietary deep-tissue and lymph drainage massage techniques.

Passed on to Apté by Simone himself (whom, I can tell you, has the magic touch) and using his eponymous skincare, the facial resurfaces skin, kick-starts lymph function (to reduce puffiness and help nourish cells) and promises an instant lift.

It starts with a cleanse and application of Pietro Simone Renewing Peel (a gentle lactic and mandelic acid blend) before Dr Apté whips out her cotton thread — the needle work comes later. She uses it to exfoliate skin, passing the tautly pulled thread across my face to both remove the peel and dislodge dead cells. It’s a technique inspired by Simone’s grandmother, who had to make do and mend as a young woman in Bergamo, Italy, and came up with this surprisingly soothing, effective way to make skin feel smooth and look glowy.

As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t last long enough, but it’s followed by another treat: Simone’s deep-tissue dry massage. Apté pushes, presses and squeezes (but never pulls) skin to flood my facial tissues with plumping moisture and nutrients, and rid them of stagnant toxins. As a result, my features indeed look more defined and slightly lifted: it’s what thousands of us are trying to achieve with our jade facial rollers, but I believe only a pro pair of hands can achieve significant results. The whole hands-on bit lasts 45 minutes, with lashings of serum, face oil and eye cream thrown in for that classic facial feel.

Once lulled into relaxation, the round of jabs that follows (injection points are scrupulously swabbed, of course) almost feels bearable, and the lumps, interestingly, are less raised than they tend to be when not preceded by a facial. I’m back four weeks later for a second set of jabs, which is standard procedure for those starting on Profhilo, and included in the price of the full treatment.

This facial won’t deal with problem skin, discolouration or texture issues, but as far youth-preserving treatments go, it must be among the best. There is no downtime or ‘controlled damage’, just a subtle replenishing of what time takes away and a noticeable reversal of the drawn, dry, haggard imprints stress leaves on your face. Effective and impossible to do myself: that’s the kind of

The Pietro Simone X Profhilo treatment (including two courses of Profhilo), £750, exclusively at Dr Pradnya Apté’s Harley Street and Exeter clinics.
Ingeborg van Lotringen is author of ‘Great Skin: Secrets The Beauty Industry Doesn’t Tell You’ (£12.99; Gibson Square)

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