'Time To Face Reality'

11 March 2007

Women's Editor, Susie Weldon visited The Harley Medical Group's Bristol clinic when she realised it was 'Time to Face Reality'. Susie trialled the skin analysis machine which revealed a few truths at the state of her skin - a course of Medical Microdermabrasion was recommended by her personal prescription programme, says Susie, "It was painless and my skin felt softer and looked much smoother"

Western Daily Press'Time To Face Reality'

How Susie Weldon subjected herself to ‘sandblasting' in pursuit of perfect skinWhen one of my friends was 14, her mother encouraged her to start on a daily cleansing, toning and moisturising regime. Today, nearly three decades on, her complexion is smooth, luminous and wrinkle-free. The problem with skin is you don't know what kind of damage you are doing until it is too late to correct it. When you're young it's all too easy to take your smooth, plump, growing complexion for granted. It's only when it morphs into wrinkles, sagginess and roughened texture that you wish you'd known what my friend learned all those years ago: that good skin is partly a blessing of genetics but also a result of how we treat it over the years. Sunning yourself on the beach or spending hours on the sunbed may give you a "healthy" tan in the short term, but you'll end up with the sandpaper hide of a rhinoceros. Luckily, you don't have to wait for the wrinkly future before discovering what you're doing to your skin. The Harley Medical Group now offers skin analysis using computerised photo-imaging. It's a pretty daunting process, as I discovered when I visited the Bristol clinic to discover the state of my skin. First your face is photographed and microscopically examined. Then a printout of readings is produced, analysing characteristics such as pore size, pigmentation, skin unevenness, wrinkles and sun damage, and the results compared to those of 3,500 other women. So how did I fare? I don't smoke (a major plus as it's very ageing) but I was born in Africa and spent my childhood there, and have spent a further seven years living abroad. Not surprisingly, my sin showed signs of sun damage, although it was not as bad as I'd expected. And I was delighted that in terms of wrinkles, my skin is better than 78 per cent of women my age - hurrah! It was also pretty clear when it came to spots and blemishes. But I was shocked to find I had worse skin texture than 80 per cent of women my age and more open pores than 60 per cent. And then there was the bacteria, showing up as red speckles on my nose. "But I cleansed my face only this morning," I shrieked in horror. The skin analysis is currently available free, but is used to recommend what other treatments will benefit your skin. I was told that a course of skin peels would help reduce the open pores while microdermabrasion would improve my skin texture and reduce fine lines. "They're both what we call lunchtime treatments - you can go back to the office without a bright red face," said my nurse, Dee Turner. Neither is cheap: the course of six skin peels costs £630, while six micro-dermabrasion treatments will set you back £399. Dee gave me a single session of micro-dermabrasion in which a machine gently "sandblasts" your face using fine crystals to remove the top dead skin layers. It's painless and my skin felt softer and looked much smoother. Patients who opt for the full six-session treatment programme are given another skin analysis afterwards. "You really can tell the difference," says Dee. Hmm. Perhaps it's time to avert that rhinoceros-hide look with a course of treatments.
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