Going for coffee in the Mount with an 80s-like towelling band pulling the hair back from my face, and a slight sheen all over my skin, no one bats an eye. I could look like any of the walkers just down from a daily trek up Mauao.
In fact I am killing time waiting for my face to go numb.
Appearance medicine specialist Leanne Cashmore has just applied some topical numbing cream and I am giving it 45 minutes to take effect before I return to her luxury rooms in Muricata Ave for one of the newest treatments to hit New Zealand — the V2 Beauty Injector.
When Leanne has spoken to me about this in the past, I keep calling it the gun — it is actually a hand-held device with a cluster of needles on the end, and is a way of injecting a gel-like liquid under the skin's surface.
Think of it like a souped up way of applying some incredible anti-ageing cream with the results being heightened from what you can achieve with just topical creams — including plumped up skin, firmer, boosting elasticity and fine lines, and brighter.
Leanne is a qualified nurse with more than 20 years of expertise focusing solely on appearance medicine and her philosophy is always to achieve a natural look. I have been keen on this treatment for a while after seeing Leanne's own incredible before and after results, and I always feel I can trust her with my face.
Like many women I am always seeking the next big thing in anti-ageing treatments.
Hyluronic acid HLA has been the buzz ingredient of anti-ageing creams for some time — with good reason, because it works. HLA is naturally found in our body and has a key role in keeping the skin in good health, helping the skin retain water and keep its hydration levels.
Unfortunately as we age, we lose stores of this essential HLA. By 35 years an average woman has already lost up to a quarter of her natural stores, and this can be accelerated by environmental factors such as poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, smoking, alcohol and sun.
The result can be like an apple drying over time, skin loses its shine and natural lustre.
So enter the huge range of anti-ageing creams and concoctions, some of which admittedly have great results.
But they are limited in that they will only ever be on the surface of the skin.
The V2 injector injects a substance containing HLA as well as other amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins under the surface of the skin. The substance Leanne uses is called Redensity, a patented formula developed in Europe and commonly used in the V2 injector treatments internationally. The formula is designed to not only plump the skin but make it firmer.
The benefit of injecting the fluid this way, says Leanne, is that specific amounts are injected at a targeted depth. This depth is optimum for providing a perfect environment for new collagen and elastin production.
The treatment is ideal for someone who wants to freshen up their skin for a big event, or whose skin is not responding to creams, says Leanne. It can also be used in combination with other appearance medicine such as Botox or fillers. Leanne recommends three treatments spaced about three to four weeks apart for optimal results, and then one or two treatments a year is needed after that, or as often as you want. You will already observe it working about 10 days after the first treatment.
As a fan of both Botox and fillers, I am not afraid of needles, but admittedly this is a 'grunty' treatment. After the cream has taken effect I return and lie down in the relaxing setting in the leafy Mount bungalow — and lie back, ready for the gun!
Leanne works the injector over the face starting at the lower jaw and moving upwards.
She focuses on areas where I have the most 'crepey lines', around the mouth and chin.
It feels simply like little pinches. The machine has a suction that slightly lifts the skin, then the multi needle device quickly injects specific amounts of redensity at the targeted depth. Leanne adjusts the device to tailor it for different areas of the skin.
It takes about 30 minutes which is surprisingly fast to be able to treat the whole face.
This is because the V2 is designed with a five or nine needle entry system which means that each time Leanne places it on my skin, it only feels like one injection, but in fact the fluid is being applied multiple times which makes it a very effective and faster form of application.
The topical numbing cream does take the edge off and I would describe it as mild discomfort, not pain, maybe on a similar level to waxing. It is completely bearable, in fact in some areas I hardly notice it, whereas in sensitive areas on the upper lip it has a bit of a sting. Leanne goes a lot under the eyes — again the home of my crepey bits, but surprising this area does not hurt at all.
I am relaxed all through — I know I am in good hands.
After the treatment Leanne applies a healing cream. As she warned me, skin afterwards does appear red, and in places you can see tiny needle bumps. For the rest of the day it is advised not to apply cream or makeup, so if you were in the public eye and wanted to keep your treatment under the radar, I would advise booking so you can take the rest of the day off.
As with any injectable, bruising can occur. No alcohol or strenuous exercise is advised as this can increase chances of bruising. By the evening the redness and bumps have disappeared — I am a bit of a bruiser in treatments and I do have a little bruising under one eye as this is where Leanne concentrated and it is a delicate area, but it is only slight and easily covered with makeup. It goes in a day.
A week after my first treatment I go to work at a Melbourne Cup event, with no makeup on apart from a little primer and I get a lot of comments on how my complexion looks good, in fact one woman asked me what creams I use.
After two weeks I do notice more plumpness, and my makeup is blending on nicely — normally I have to heavily blend around my problem areas under my eyes and on the lower cheeks where there are lots of lines trapping makeup and powder, but it goes on easily as my skin is less creased.
Like all treatments, it is an investment, but considering that the results will last 12 months and comparing it with what I would spend on creams which would achieve less visible and lasting results, then it is very affordable.
Who would be suitable for the V2 injector?
All ages can benefit from a beauty booster treatment. It can prevent the visible effects of ageing and reverses some of the effects of ageing. Beautiful for a bride before her big day, or mother of the bride!
What skin concerns can it help?
Dehydration, fine lines and under-eye skin (which can be a difficult area to treat). It helps brighten the skin and boosts elasticity on your face and neck.
How soon will you see results?
A week to 10 days after your first treatment.
What is the redensity being injected beneath the skin?
The redensity is a hyluronic acid full of amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants that not only plumps the skin, but brightens it and makes it firmer.
What are the advantages of a multi needle system?
There is a five-needle and nine-needle system. Neither of them feel any different to a single needle going in. This ensures a faster way of administering the redensity.
Does it hurt?
A topical anesthetic cream is applied for 30 to 60 minutes prior. The discomfort is tolerable and over within 30 minutes.
What areas of the skin can it be used on?
Face, neck, backs of hands.
What can I expect during and after the treatment?
The machine has a suction that slightly lifts the skin, then the multi-needle device quickly injects specific amounts of redensity at a targeted depth. This takes about 30 minutes. Afterwards you will have a topical healing cream applied. Your skin will be lumpy and a little red immediately afterwards. It won't be uncomfortable. By the evening a lot of the lumps have disappeared. You are unlucky if you get any superficial bruising.
Can I go straight back to work?
If you work in the public eye I would take the rest of the day off. The lumps have settled after 24 to 48 hours. You can put makeup on the next day and cover up any small remaining lumps or small amounts of superficial bruising.
How many treatments do I need?
Initially three treatments three to four weeks apart. Then a booster twice a year to maintain good hydration.
If I was planning this before a special event, how far in advance should I have it?
Ten days before a special event is perfect.
How much does it cost?
It's $1590 for the course of three prepaid or $690 for a booster treatment.
• Annemarie had the V2 Beauty Booster treatment with Leanne Cashmore at the Cashmore Clinic, 82A Muricata Ave, Mount Maunganui.
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