Wednesday 11th September

| BY Garth Spencer

Ten Tips on Looking Better With The Help of a Laser

As soon as high summer kicked in, I couldn’t help but notice how everyone became totally obsessed with beauty. A whole new level of fascination that is literally everywhere. From the Instagram stories of anyone washing their face and telling you all about the process to my Ten Towers colleagues nipping out for a quick “refresher appointment” during lunch time. Everyone seems to be boasting with advice on looking better. “No, but Victoria Beckhams swears by this cream. Look – it works!” Have I been left behind? Perhaps I haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashian salad-box-on-the-sofa beauty chats hard enough, but has looking good transformed from a vanity thing and into a basic human need? In order to answer this question, I decided not only to navigate the department stores’ beauty counters and steam-mirrored Instagram tutorials, but also actually visit a specialist. And so off I went to the Wellness clinic at Harrods, where Dr Costas Papageorgiou is doing his best to make people look their best.

While waiting for my appointment, I noticed there were several other men waiting in the clinic. A handsome guy wearing a black kilt over trousers and foiled platform silver brogues. His friend takes a look at the shoes, shrugs and leans over: “Hermès.” I knew I was in the right place.

First point of call: I get taken a 3D picture of my face. This is slightly terrifying as I realise it’s not just me staring into a mirror consoling myself anymore. Instead, there’s two specialists looking at my face, seeing all the flaws and finding what improvements can be made. “Do you wear sunscreen?” one of them asks. “Yes!” I answer promptly. The images of suspended heads swivel around, as Dr Papageorgiou notices my jawline could be tightened, its current state definitely caused by hours of looking down at my phone screen. But today is about something else – the Illumino laser skin rejuvenating treatment. It’s a 4-step treatment made to improve texture of skin faster than topical creams or even digesting gallons of collagen. And yes, people actually do that.

After we move into the treatment room, it’s time for the laser genesis step, which targets fibroblast metabolism and collagen production. I lie back with a pair of protective glasses on as the slightly intimidating laser device begins to work its magic. But the process is warm and pleasant, like warm rain droplets on my face. I begin to think I could actually do this to myself in my own home, wondering how much the laser costs and where in my flat I could fit it in.

“Is the collagen always renewable?” I ask the Doctor. “While we’re born with an abundance of collagen in our skin, the body’s production of collagen slows in our mid-to-late 20s and continues to decrease dramatically after age 30. From there, the collagen levels in our skin begin to drop by 1-2% each year as the metabolism declines and the collagen degrading enzymes increase. Hence it is important to implement regularly energy-based devices and sophisticated skincare products to boost the fibroblast metabolism and slow down the degradation process.”

Next on the menu is the Limelight IPL treatment, targeting inflammation and cumulative sun damage. This processes is slightly less enjoyable. There’s an echo-like affect of light being created. Maybe I haven’t worn enough sunscreen over the years after all. The process is startling but at no point is it painful. 

Garth Spencer: “Is sun damage reversible?”

Dr Costas Papageorgiou: “To some extent yes, although cumulative sun damage can lead to solar elastosis that alters completely the elasticity and resilience of the skin in a process known as photo ageing. By combining various energy waves and over serial treatments we can reverse to some extent this process, results of course will vary depending on the age of the patient and the extent of photo ageing.

After a few more blasts, the mechanical voice of the laser announces the process was complete. We move onto the oxygen infusion – a cocktail of antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid providing deep hydration into the skin. The feeling is cooling and very enjoyable. 

GS: Social media developed quite extensively in the last 5 years. How would you say this has affected the beauty industry?

CP: Dramatically, I would say. But at this stage we have reached a status where social media is doing more harm than good especially with young people who are becoming increasingly insecure due to unrealistic beauty ideals and misconceptions… As a result we see a wide range of almost dystrophic trends and outcomes that are idealised and portrayed as beauty ideals.

GS: Are your patients coming in younger than before?

CP: Social media have certainly catalysed this trend as newer generations are far more interested in fashion and beauty. Of course this has pros and cons. The internet has brought a new level of communication within the industry, patients are exposed at a younger age to various aesthetic interventions are becoming more inclined to adopt them at an earlier age. Of course prevention is key as long as it is under the right harms and expertise.

We move onto the last of processes which is an LED treatment. It uses infrared lights to stimulate cell metabolism and help the skin recover from the previous stages of energy waves. The LED light panel envelops my face and it feels great. 

GS: Can light/ laser treatments be used long-teerm?

CP: Of course. Energy based devices are key in face and body rejuvenation and work synergistically with other interventions. Under the right hands and by implementing the right technology, they are able to reverse and decline the ageing process in a gradual and natural way. Laser genesis, limelight and Ultherapy are my favourite energy treatments. These laser treatments have no side effects as the energy levels are tailored to each individual’s skin and results are achieved in a cumulative approach over a series of treatments. This allows patients to return to their daily activities or attend a red carpet event immediately after the treatment.

GS: What simple steps would you suggest for better skin?

CP: Commit to a daily regime. I advise on a multilayered approach combining cell regenerators with anti-inflammatory agents with cell soothing properties. This might involve a combination of 4-5 products. The era of a simple moisturiser is definitely over.

The processes is complete and Dr Costas Papageorgiou escorts we out of the Wellness area. In the next few days, the quality of my skin texture definitely improves without needing actual down time to heal. As beauty moves faster to less intrusive processes like the laser and light therapies, I do wonder how much longer before I can finally get one of these big lasers installed in my living room. But until then, there’s always Dr Papageorgiou.

You can book an appointment at Harrods’ wellness clinic online. Photograph by Steven Klein for Vogue Italia.