Just the name is enough to make the boldest of beauty junkies quiver. The Dracula! The most extreme beauty treatment! It’s all blood and guts and injections and photos of Kim Kardashian looking all winsome and smeary faced into a soft focused lens, like she’s just done ten rounds in Las Vegas with Mike Tyson.
The Dracula is hardcore, the Dracula is painful, it’s bloody and, needless to say, its reputation precedes it.
So, it would surprise no one that I arrive at BeautyWorksWest , in the beating heart (does it still have one?) of Notting Hill, ready to evacuate. Evacuate outta here and evacuate most of my wheat-free, high protein, full-of-essential-oils lunch. (Oh, yes, I’m still very much Amelia Freer !).
The lovely Susie Rogers meets me in reception to wish me luck. I have mentioned Susie a few times on this site before. She did once teach me Pilates, back in the day when I could bounce on a trampoline with impunity and fire ping pong balls at passing pigeons using only my pelvic floor. So in the last century, I hear you say, and you’d be correct.
But the main reason for mentioning Susie, quite apart from BeautyWorksWest being her clinic, is that she looks exactly the same as she did 20 years ago. She is open about the things she has done to help her on her way. A bit of this, a bit of that. She inhales her Youth Pills , which are frankly, brilliant. She eats well, exercises and doesn’t have the appearance of a bulldog in a wind tunnel, which was what half the ladies look like around here.
“Darling,” she said to me the other day scrutinising my face, looking over her glamorous specs. “You’ve got to try the Dracula. It is fabulous for the skin.”
So here I am, easily led and suggestible as always, sitting in a white padded chair as the famous Dr Daniel Sister sucks my blood. Not personally, obviously. But he sticks a syringe in my arm and draws up 20ml of blood ready to pop it into the centrifuge.
The idea behind the Dracula is simple enough. You take the patient’s blood, spin the hell out of it so that it separates out into red blood cells, white blood cells (plasma) and stem cells (the very clear wonder stuff). You then take the plasma and the stem cells and inject them back into the face, thereby stimulating the skin to buck up its ideas and get repairing itself and rebooting the collagen. It is a technique that has been used very successfully to treat scars in knee surgery for years. And for anyone who hates the idea of putting foreign bodies i.e. Botox, into their system, this is the antithesis. No one can be allergic to their own blood. It is - as they say in the trade - risk free.
It is however sadly not pain-free and painkillers, as Dr Sister tells me, are not worth using. Anaesthetic cream doesn’t make any difference. So here I am, bareback as it were, preparing to have my face injected.
“How many injections are there?” I ask gripping the white chair and panting like I am about to give birth.
“Injections are like lovers,” replies the phlegmatic Frenchman. “One doesn’t count.”
“Four? Ten? Fourteen?”
“More like fourteen,” he finally admits.
And then he’s off. Jabbing, stabbing, digging the needle in to my cheeks, chin, around the eyes, along the jawbone, across the forehead. These are the deep jabs, the ones where he gets the plasma right into the flesh. And then come the little ones. Pin pricks all over the skin, peppering my face with white blood cells. As he moves, at speed, across my skin, he wipes what I presume to be fountains of blood out of the way with his cotton wool. It is painful. My whole body is sweating, I am deep breathing, inhaling, exhaling, like some tantric yogi trying to take my mind off it all and then, suddenly, it stops.
“Oh? Is that is?” I ask, feeling more than a little underwhelmed.
“Yes,” he nods. “Not too bad?”
“No, not really,” I reply. “I think it is the idea of it all that is much worse than the reality.”
“Do you want to see your face?” he asks.
I am excited. This is the closest to Kim I am ever going to get. I’ve got the camera ready for a selfie. I am popping this baby on every social media thing I have (well only Twitter) but…
The disappointment is audible.
“Were you hoping for the dripping blood?” asks Dr Sister. “It’s not true. There is no blood. Just plasma, and plasma is transparent. I have no idea where that Kim Kardashian photo comes from. But it is not a Dracula facelift.”
I can’t believe it! I thought the camera NEVER lied.
I leave feeling a little puffy around the gills and slightly tender to the touch. But more than capable of going to the paint shop around the corner to match up some particularly tricky shelves.
And the results? Well two/three weeks, apparently. I have to say I am quite excited. On scale of pain vs gain, this has got to be a winner!