Could Total FX treatment help long-term bad sleeper Jeremy Langmead look well-rested? And was it worth the recovery time?
Style editor Jeremy Langmead has tried almost every tweakment and skincare product going, from blue face peels (above right) to Morpheus8 RF microneedling (above left). He's constantly asked for his tips on what works, what doesn't and who to see.
One of his personal bugbears, which became hard to ignore in lockdown thanks to Zoom, was looking tired around the eyes. "I just couldn’t avoid focusing on the parts of my face that bothered me the most, especially the areas of skin around my eyes," he writes in his new book Vain Glorious: a shameless guide for men who want to look their best £9.99 penned with aesthetic doctor David Jack. "With or without a mask on, they seemed to be pleading for help. Or perhaps just a good night’s sleep…"
Could a laser skin resurfacing treatment be the solution to his hooded eyes and crepey undereye skin? He booked in for a TotalFx laser treatment, a fractional Co2 laser often used to treat acne scars and sun damage but also to tighten the skin as well as improve the texture of fine lines as wrinkles as well as pigmentation.
How long does TotalFX take to work, does it hurt and what is the recovery time? More importantly, would he ever do it again? Here's his verdict, plus his insider tip on the one treatment he now books in for on repeat.
"I haven’t slept properly, unaided, for years. I have tried natural remedies (peepo, still wide awake); sleep clinics (gave me nightmares); podcast serials (I need to know how the story ends); giving up booze (no help, but did give me more energy) and meditation apps such as Headspace.
"For the past eight years, I have had to take a prescription sleeping pill to help me to put my mind on pause for a few precious hours. Even with that help I never get the recommended seven-plus hours.
"A frustrating side effect of sleeplessness is looking knackered. While a lack of sleep should be taken seriously and the cause dealt with as soon as possible – not easy when many sleep physicians advise more holidays and less stress and you’re in the middle of a pandemic – it may be a comfort to know that there are a few tricks that can make you appear more rested than you feel.
"Speak to aesthetic doctors and they will tell you that 'looking as if I’ve had a good night’s sleep' is what most of their male clients ask for. One of the more extreme measures for treating the area around your eyes is TotalFX laser treatment.
This laser treatment is designed to correct the crepey, slightly saggy skin you can get under the eyes and tighten the lids that slightly droop above them.
"TotalFX consists of two procedures. The first called DeepFX, involves a narrow laser microbeam to remove columns of tissue through several layers of skin. Why? To stimulate collagen production, which improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and scars and tightens the skin up. Next is the ActiveFX part, a larger beam that targets the upper layer of skin to remove hyperpigmentation, encourage new skin generation and again remove fine lines.
"A word of warning: always do a serious amount of homework before undergoing a treatment like this. Ideally, speak to someone who has had it done. You want to know about the person doing it, the clinic they work from, the risks involved, the real end benefits – and, where I slipped up with this one, the Total FX laser recovery time...
"The procedure itself wasn’t so bad. You sit for an hour with half of your face covered in anaesthetic cream, then 30 minutes of laser treatment begin. It’s no more painful than a pinprick. Some people have their whole faces treated in one go; I was happy we were only doing my eyes.
for the first time in a long while, I looked as if I’d had a rather refreshing nap"Afterwards, you are given written instructions, plus antibacterial spray, special cleansing gel and Vaseline-like ointment. You are also advised to avoid sunlight for a few weeks, and after that use a high-level SPF.
"Back home, I looked sunburnt and my eyes a little swollen, but it didn’t actually hurt. But the next morning (thankfully a Saturday) bloody hell! My eyes had almost closed with the swelling, and the areas around them were red and oozing. Fortunately, the face is quick to repair itself: 48 hours later, the oozing was replaced by scabbing, two days after that, the scabs crumbled away to leave a raw-looking layer of skin. As the days passed, the redness paled to a mild baby pink.
"If I’d done my research properly back then, I would have booked at least a week off work to recover; ideally longer. It actually takes at least three or four weeks to fully lose the pinkness. Even longer is the time you have to wait to see if the treatment has worked. Six months later, and beyond, there was a noticeable improvement in the skin around my eyes. The wrinkles and lines had faded (but not disappeared), the eyelids were perkier and the skin less crepey. My friends (begrudgingly) noticed the difference more than I did.
"About a year later, I received multiple compliments – and believe me, my friends are not like the kind insects in A Bug’s Life. Would I recommend it? If you hate the area around your eyes, yes, but only if you can deal with a good month of looking rather peculiar.
"It’s a tough call. I’m not sure I would do it again. The recovery time is too lengthy for someone like me who is impatient and can’t hide from the world on a private yacht for a few weeks. Initially, I looked like Freddie Krueger, then, as it healed and scabbed, I morphed into a reptilian humanoid from Dr Who. It was probably at least another month before I left my Kung Fu Panda phase behind altogether. However, to be fair, six months later, as promised, the fine lines and pigmentation around my eyes had noticeably improved in appearance.
"However, the other non-surgical treatment gaining traction for the living dead is Profhilo and for this, I joyfully return for a top-up twice a year. This isn’t a dermal filler but a helpful dose of hyaluronic acid and the results are visible immediately. Hyaluronic acid, which we produce naturally, is key to our skin remaining and looking hydrated. The Profhilo is injected into five areas of the face and, over the next 12 hours, dissipates beneath the skin, giving it a fresher, more dewy appearance.
"The treatment stimulates collagen and remodels the deep supporting layer of the dermis. It takes about 30 minutes, the needle pricks are a little uncomfortable, and you do look a little bee-stung in places for up to 24 hours. I had it done on a Friday afternoon and was shopping in M&S Food the next morning. And by the end of the weekend, for the first time in a long while, I looked as if I’d had a rather refreshing nap.
"The treatment needs to be repeated one more time, a month later, and then you’re good to go - looking fresh-faced and rested - for another six months. It feels the least intrusive and most immediate results treatment, aside from botulinum toxin, that I’ve tried."
An edited extract from Vain Glorious: a shameless guide for men who want to look their best by Jeremy Langmead with Dr David Jack, published by Short Books £9.99
Total FX treatment with Dr Kambiz Golchin at the Rita Rakus Clinic, London costs £3,800 for the eye area and £5,800 for the face. See T otal Fx before and after pictures here .
Profhilo treatment with Dr David Jack at Dr David Jack Clinic, Harley Street, London costs £450 per treatment area.