The latest body treatments tuck, sculpt and contour – plus they offer some rather pleasurable added benefits below the belt, and all without having to go under the knife.
Appearance medicine – or non-surgical skin rejuvenation – is a rapidly growing global trend and it’s gone way beyond Botox and chemical peels. Blame Kim Kardashian for letting a TV camera zoom in on her blood-smeared face on Kim and Kourtney Take Miami in 2013.
Since then, millions of women worldwide – including in New Zealand – have tried the Vampire Facial, a seemingly gory treatment where a small amount of your own blood is extracted from your arm and spun in a centrifuge to separate the plasma rich platelets (PRP).
Then, using dermastamping, the PRP is injected into your face. Initial results resemble nasty sunburn, but by day two you have a luminous, child-like glow. PRP has been used for more than 20 years to help repair tendon and ligament problems. Even golfer Tiger Woods is a fan.
US-based Dr Charles Runels, who worked as an emergency doctor for nine years, gave PRP its current star status when he invented the Vampire Facial and the Vampire Facelift (go to vampirefacelift.com or vampirefacial.com to find a registered clinic near you).
In a case of serendipity, Auckland-based Dr Catherine Stone, founder of The Face Place, had already developed a similar PRP-based treatment before she trained under Dr Runels. Hence you’ll find the Vampire Facial Plus on offer at her clinic. “We add hydrating hyaluronic acid solution,” she explains. According to Dr Stone, an “uncountable” number of clients have had it. “It’s our best treatment for boosting skin texture, thickness and luminosity,” she says.
You can have the treatment done on your neck, too, as seen on The Real Housewives of Auckland’s Julia Sloane. The Face Place is the only clinic in New Zealand with the technology to offer ThermiTight to target unwanted crepey skin.
If the thought of appearing as if you’re wearing an invisible bra appeals, then this one is for you.
And at the Auckland Skin Laser Centre, Dr Paul Le Grice is getting results with Ultherapy (more of which overleaf). For breasts that need an extra boost, there’s the Vampire Breast Lift. Dr Stone had hers done by Dr Runels himself, and because of the way collagen works, tightening over time, it’s like the gift that keeps on giving, cleavage-wise.
Some of this may seem very Hollywood, but the doctors behind the treatments truly believe they’re life-changing, especially when it comes to the newest offering: sexual rejuvenation.
Auckland’s Dr Mark Morunga, medical director of Face Doctors Botany, Face Doctors Remuera and the Essential Men’s Clinics, spent 20 years as an accident and medical physician before moving into appearance medicine.
Along with The Face Place, his clinics offer the O-Shot (yes, that is ‘O’ as in orgasm) and the Priapus Shot (or P-Shot) for men, a treatment that enhances erections and sexual function that he has tried twice himself – once during training and a second time because he was so pleased with the outcome.
ThermiVa, another Kardashian favourite for down there, is also on offer at The Face Place. So at what age should you consider them? “In your 20s to 70s, although results may not be as significant in older patients,” says Dr Stone. “We’ve still achieved nice results in patients in their 60s.”
Jowls, neck and décolleté
Ultherapy reaches beneath the skin to tighten the underlying tissue. “We can also create more superficial tightening of the skin of the neck and décolleté to address the finer wrinkling which can develop,” explains Dr Le Grice.
Ultrasound energy heats targeted tissue under the surface of the skin, stimulating the body’s natural production of collagen. It takes a few months to see full results, as the collagen gradually builds up to improve the skin’s tone and texture.
Hidden benefits: “Any treatment which addresses a person’s concern about some aspect of their appearance has the ability to improve psychological wellbeing,” says Dr Le Grice.
Pain rating (0 = no pain, 10 = intense pain) 2/10: “There was no sensation on my skin, just a small prickle of heat that felt like it was landing on a deeper layer. Odd yes, painful no,” says one woman who had it done and would prefer to remain anonymous. “Afterwards I had a mild headache and my jaw felt stiff for a few days.”
Where: Auckland Skin Laser Centre (skinlaser.co.nz).
Cost: Usually $3,500 for a full neck treatment, $2,000 for the décolleté.
ThermiTight uses a tiny wand to deliver temperature controlled radio frequency energy just beneath the surface of the skin. It’s not for the faint-hearted: skin tightening begins at 40-45°C and the SMAS (the supportive tissue) begins to tighten at 55-65°C while fat melting occurs at 55-70°C, but of course a local anaesthetic to numb the area ensures you won’t feel a thing.
With the ThermiTight wand, your doctor monitors the internal tissue temperature in the deeper levels of your skin, while an infrared camera allows for the monitoring of the skin surface, where the skin tightening happens.
This means your doctor has the ability to precisely monitor the internal temperatures of the skin, ensuring precision of the heating effect while maintaining safety. “We can target specific areas of fat or excess skin,” explains Dr Stone. “It can also be used on the arms, tummy and thighs.”
Hidden benefits: You literally age backwards as the tightening of the subdermal tissue is the result of collagen formation by your body. Expect to see some improvement after eight weeks and full results at six to 12 months. They should last up to five years.
Pain rating 4/10: You may feel a tiny pinch when the anaesthetic is being injected into the treated area. But with the help of this local anaesthesia, the treatment itself is not painful. Expect swelling on the treated area for a few days afterwards and make time to rest.
Where: The Face Place (thefaceplace.co.nz).
Cost: $4,500. The Face Place also has a pre-payment plan where friends can contribute to your fund for birthdays or other gifts to be used against future treatments.
The Vampire Breast Lift
The same combination of fillers and PRP as the Vampire Facial is used to enhance the cleavage area between the breasts. “That area where we noticeably lose more volume as we age, creating a ‘saggy’ appearance,” says Dr Stone. If the thought of appearing as if you’re wearing an invisible bra appeals, then this one is for you. The treatment specifically rounds the ‘upper pole’, the part of the breast visible in bras and bikinis, and can help ‘lift’ the breast. Note: it doesn’t enlarge breasts like augmentation would, but rather works with what you already have.
Hidden benefits: Reduced vein appearance and increased sensitivity in the breasts. A variation of the Vampire Breast Lift can help improve nipple sensitivity and treat inverted nipples. It has also been used to disguise the ripples and hollows of breast implants, without the need for further surgery.
Pain rating 2/10: “The Vampire Breast Lift was incredibly easy. The treatment itself took about 30 minutes,” says Dr Stone. “While there were a few prickles, it’s more of a temporary discomfort than anything else. The injections themselves don’t really hurt that much, but it feels a bit tingly or prickly after the injection as the platelets stimulate blood flow to the area.”
Where: The Face Place (thefaceplace.co.nz).
Stomach and thighs
CoolSmooth and CoolMini follow on from CoolSculpting, which launched in 2013 at Prescription Skin Care in Auckland, and is lauded for removing the exercise-resistant ‘mummy tummy’. CoolSmooth treats ‘saddlebags’, the grabbable flesh on the outer thighs, and the CoolMini treats smaller areas, such as bra bulges by the upper arm.
A permanent, non-surgical fat-reduction and body-contouring procedure (the scientific name is cryolipolysis), CoolSculpting, CoolSmooth and the CoolMini literally freeze fatty problem areas that are unresponsive to exercise. The treatments only target fat cells, which are then eliminated through natural metabolic processes.
The rest of the cells remain untouched. “Just one treatment can achieve a reduction in fat of 20-30 per cent,” says Prescription Skin Care’s medical director, Dr Stephen Gilbert. Note: this is not recommended as a weight-loss measure.
Hidden benefits: Body confidence.
Pain rating 3/10: Most people report a little discomfort as fatty areas are suctioned in order to freeze them, but there is no pain as such.
Where: Prescription Skin Care (prescriptionskincare.co.nz) offers CoolSculpting, CoolSmooth and CoolMini. Caci clinics (caci.co.nz) offer ChillSculpt (see page 75 for more information).
Cost: Costs for CoolSculpting start at $1,000 and rise depending on how many cycles you have (one cycle is one area that is being treated). “Patients who are suitable for multiple cycles receive a discount. We try to make the treatments as cost-effective as possible,” says Dr Gilbert. CoolSmooth is $1,250 per cycle. If a patient chooses to have CoolSculpting treatments as well, their CoolSmooth treatments are reduced in price. The CoolMini is $1,250 per cycle.
The Vampire O-Shot
The Vampire O-Shot involves your own PRP being injected into an area near the clitoris and into the area of the upper vagina that is most important for sexual response (the ‘O-spot’). The treatment promises to rejuvenate and revitalise vaginal and clitoral function.
Once the PRP is injected, regenerative cells begin to rejuvenate the vagina tissue. It’s helpful for women suffering from low desire, difficulty becoming aroused, difficulty reaching orgasm and those who experience painful sex.
According to Dr Stone, who tried it when Dr Runels travelled to New Zealand in early 2015 to train her in administering the Vampire O-Shot to others, it dramatically improves sensitivity and revs up a flagging sex drive. Since then, she’s performed about 100 treatments herself. “I had one client who, in the first week, had to keep taking time off work to scratch the itch, so to speak,” she laughs.
One woman in her 60s, who would prefer to remain anonymous, claims it has enhanced her sexual satisfaction beyond what she experienced as a young woman. Another woman, in her 30s says, “I felt a clear improvement in the frequency and strength of my orgasms as well as increased tightness and wetness.”
Hidden benefits: Improves stress urinary incontinence, the unintentional urination that can occur during physical activity or even when laughing, coughing or sneezing. This is because the O-Shot activates stem cells in the localised region and these muscle tissues are able to regenerate and improve their strength and ability to prevent urine flow.
After years of experiencing a weak and leaky bladder Makaia Carr, 36, founder of Motivate Me NZ, tried the O-Shot. “I could feel significant improvement around day five and it continued to improve every day after that for a couple of weeks,” she says. “It’s been about six or seven months since I had it done and the results are still fantastic. To know I can be as active as I want at any time of the day without fear of a leaky bladder is so freeing.”
The O-Shot also treats a skin condition called lichen sclerosus, where the tissue of the vagina becomes white, itchy, fragile and painful. The treatment is also currently being investigated as a way to reduce pain after vaginal mesh repair to reinforce a weakened vaginal wall.
Pain rating 2/10: “Not as painful as I thought it was going to be,” says Carr. “It’s all over pretty quickly. A wax is way more painful by comparison.”
Where: The Face Place (thefaceplace.co.nz).
Cost: $1,800 for the first treatment, $1,200 for the second if carried out within six months.
ThermiVa is a non-surgical treatment used to tighten the vagina, minimise the appearance of the labia or address the physical after-effects of childbirth. Using radiofrequency energy, the curve-shaped ThermiVa wand gently heats tissue to rejuvenate collagen. Like the O-Shot, ThermiVa can increase lubrication, reduce excessive dryness and help increase sensitivity and ability to orgasm.
Hidden benefits: Like the O-Shot, ThermiVa can help with stress urinary incontinence or leaky bladder, too. Mikayla Hopkins, 22, brand manager at The Face Place, tried ThermiVa because of a leaky bladder she experienced when jumping on the trampoline with her little brother and sister and also during sex. “I found it very frustrating that this was happening to me at my age,” she says. “A week or so after the treatment, when jumping on the tramp, I still had some leakage but it had greatly reduced and I could jump for around five minutes as opposed to one or two jumps. It’s been about four months and the results are still there. I also noticed an increase in lubrication and my orgasms, which were always good, became even better.” ThermiVa can also be used to treat lichen sclerosus.
Pain rating 0/10: “The treatment took about 15 minutes and felt like a warm massage – it actually feels nice,” says Hopkins.
Where: The Face Place (thefaceplace.co.nz).
Cost: $1,000 to $1,250. Course of three treatments, $2,800 to $3,500 if prepaid.
The P-Shot — otherwise known as the Priapus Shot — improves the hardness and sensitivity of the penis, and many experience an increase in size, both when flaccid and erect. “Although each man’s experience varies, most report an increase in firmness of erection, penile length and penile girth,” says Dr Morunga of Essential Men’s Clinics. “It increases blood flow and circulation and sexual stamina.” Dr Stone adds: “We will often have couples who come for both the O-Shot and P-Shot together, so they can both enjoy the benefits of improved sex.”
Andrew Gill, 48, a chief executive officer, saw information on the P-Shot on The Face Place’s website. After a consultation with Dr Stone, he decided to try it. “After the injections that evening I certainly noticed a strong erection and then for the following days I noticed an improvement in my erection,” he says. “My improved erection lasted for the following six months and I still feel that there is an ongoing positive effect.”
Hidden benefits: It may come as something of a surprise, but men can lose the ability to perform in the bedroom due to a whole host of issues beyond ageing and erectile dysfunction. Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, peripheral vascular (artery or vein) disease, prostate, bladder or colorectal cancers can all affect sexual function. The P-Shot is recommended in all these cases to deliver lasting improvements in sexual performance. It can also help men whose penises are bent when erect.
Pain rating 0/10: “The only painful part was the exposure of my private parts to Dr Cat, but she was the ultimate professional and it was over before I knew it,” says Gill.
Where: The Face Place (thefaceplace.co.nz) and Essential Men’s Clinics (essentialmensclinic.co.nz).
Cost: The Face Place: $1,995 for the first treatment, $1,600 for the second if carried out within six months. Essential Men’s Clinics: price on request.