Sorry to my face for all I've put it through (but I'd do it again…): After a Jennifer Aniston-style no scalpel facelift, one woman's diary of her transformation
21:21 GMT, 16 June 2012
12:18 GMT, 17 June 2012
I would like to begin with an apology – first to my teenage son for scaring the living daylights out of him, secondly to my sister who was so shocked at my swollen, bloodied appearance that she stayed with me and my son overnight in case I never woke up again. Finally, to my face . . . for what I put it through.
To explain. Looking at these photos, you may think I was involved in some dreadful accident, but the truth is I had the skin on my face literally burned off during a laser facelift.
It’s the same procedure that Jennifer Aniston confessed to having recently, and I kept a diary of the whole harrowing experience…
Jennifer swears by it: Hollywood star Aniston, left, has had the same laser treatment that Kay Goddard, right, decided to get to eliminate some of her facial wrinkles
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4
I catch a glimpse of my reflection and see my mother’s face peering back. Something must be done.
I may be the wrong side of 50 but I don’t feel it and I don’t want to look it. A facelift is a possibility – but the thought of being cut, stitched and scarred doesn’t appeal. A friend had one recently and it took her at least two months to recover. I couldn’t afford the down time or the expense – she paid 8,000 – and in my opinion it wasn’t worth the pain.
Although her saggy cheeks were tighter, her skin was still lined. That’s the problem with a traditional facelift: it will not improve the quality of the skin. Laser resurfacing does, however.
I was warned by Dr Aamer Khan from the Harley Street Skin Clinic in London, where I chose to have the treatment, that the procedure would be painful. Fraxel Repair, which Dr Khan will use on me, is the most hardcore of the laser treatments and can achieve similar results to a surgical facelift in just one hour.
He also warned I would look like something from a horror film immediately afterwards but my tired, lined and sun-damaged complexion would look fresh, plump and luminous a week later. So I didn’t hesitate. Or flinch at the 3,000 fee.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10
I arrive at the clinic at about 5pm with a friend – the procedure is carried out using a topical anaesthetic and light sedation, so it’s best to have someone to make sure you get home safely.
‘The laser works a bit like a lawn-aerator, spiking the skin with beams of carbon dioxide, creating thousands of microscopic wounds,’ explains Dr Khan. ‘This sets up a healing response to stimulate collagen, the protein that gives skin elasticity and firmness. The skin shrinks back to its youthful, wrinkle-free state.’
The best results would be seen in six months to a year, after deeper layers of the skin have healed, but I’d see an improvement within a week. The results could last five years. ‘Your skin will look flawless,’ he says. I’m in raptures. Start the lawnmower!
I’m taken to the treatment room, where a nurse smothers my face in anaesthetic cream and gives me a Valium. The laser resembles a dentist’s drill. As I recline on the treatment couch, Dr Khan begins zapping my skin. It feels a bit like being pinged with an elastic band. And then I catch a terrible smell of burning rubber – and I realise it is, in fact, my skin.
After 45 minutes, I start feeling pain, rather like hot fat being splattered on to my face. Just as I think I can’t bear it any more, it’s over. I arrive home. My sister comes round to look after my 13-year-old son Joe while I convalesce. They have been pre-warned but when they see me, both seem very upset. I feel befuddled, go straight to bed and fall sound asleep.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11
I wake to find my pillow and duvet bloodied where my face has been oozing in the night. I had been advised to keep my head raised while in bed, but in my Valium haze I forgot.
Aftercare is crucial: lots of soaking and soothing the skin with an oil spray every few hours for at least a week, and it would be best to stay at home for four days.
Sunbathing would also have to be avoided and I must protect my skin with at least an SPF 20 cream every day, otherwise I could end up with pigmentation marks. I take the first of my anti-viral tablets (five a day for the next three days) to help prevent infections. Dr Khan tells his patients to wash the face with water mixed with two capfuls of vinegar (a natural antibacterial) every two hours.
I go to the bathroom, look in the mirror and gasp. My skin is red and swollen with a weepy crust: my face resembles raw meat. I’d scream if I could, but my face feels tight, as if my head has been wrapped in clingfilm.
I feel little pain but take paracetamol just in case. I sleep most of the day – unable to read as my eyes are so swollen. By the end of the day, my face has swollen like a football. I call the doctor, who says it is normal. I sleep on the sofa, almost upright. I feel like the Elephant Man.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12
I don’t feel so groggy. My face feels stretched tight and very itchy. Making expressions or even talking is difficult but, strangely, I don’t feel any pain.
The vinegar-water routine is a chore but it is soothing. My son calls me to see how I am and, after making it clear he is still angry with me, he passes the phone to my sister, who again berates me but can’t stop asking how I look and feel.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13
I have an upset tummy so I stop taking the tablets. I’m slightly less swollen but still very itchy. My skin is scabbing.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14
Still red, slightly swollen, very tight. The gardener came today – I told him I was allergic to cream and had a reaction. He told me to sue them. I’m getting fed up now as I can’t go out. I still can’t wear my glasses because they leave indentations as my face is so swollen. I have developed little bumps on my bottom eyelids and whitehead spots on my chin.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15 My skin has started to peel all around my
lips and nose and, with so much make-up powder on top, it looks as if
my face has a bad case of dandruff
I look horrific but feel fine. I arrange to meet a friend for coffee, and pile on mineral make-up, which is safe to use as it isn’t absorbed into the skin, and sunblock. While out, I check myself in the mirror in the loo – my skin has started to peel all around my lips and nose and, with so much make-up powder on top, it looks as if my face has a bad case of dandruff. I hurry home and wipe my face clean, apply more vinegar water, then spray it with the oil.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16
I look half-decent. My skin is now a nice shade of pink and the flakiness has almost disappeared.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19
My skin has more or less healed. It’s still a little puffy but there’s no blood or scabs and only slight pinkness. I look in the mirror every 20 minutes to make sure the flakiness is gone.
MONDAY, MAY 21
My skin has tightened, the fine lines have disappeared, my pigmentation marks are gone and my skin looks plumper. I don’t look as if I’ve been through a wind tunnel. I am thrilled and despite it being an ordeal, I’d do it all over again.