Princess: Aging at a facial pace
“I hope Gertie lives to be 16,” I said to Ryan the other night as we were lounging about on the couch. Our little pug snorted happily in response, her pink tongue sticking out as it always does, making her look kind of stupid even though she’s not.
“When she’s 16, I’ll be … ” I did the math in my head.
“Holy cow — I’ll be 60,” I said, catching my breath sharply. “Wait, that can’t be right.”
I counted in my head: 44 plus 10 is 54 plus six is — Jesus Christ, I’m old.
The last time I checked, I was 15. My personality was fused at that age, as was my height (unfortunately, my weight didn’t follow suit; so annoying). I don’t feel old, and I certainly don’t feel like I look old — but that’s mostly thanks to Dr. Ghaly and the magical PRP facial he gave me a few weeks ago.
So I was doing an assignment for Aspen Sojourner magazine (the issue just came out, so be sure to check it out) on wellness — various services and classes offered all over town. In one week I did six different fitness and yoga classes and got to see a chiropractor, a shaman (I’ll save that one for another day) and Dr. Ghaly, a doctor from L.A. who specializes in regenerative therapies and has joined Dr. Gail King and opened Regen Aspen, offering all kinds of services you’d be hard-pressed to find west of Europe.
The platelet rich plasma facial is one of them, and let me tell you I was not that excited about having three vials of my own blood drawn only to have it injected back into my skin, but I’ll try anything once, especially if it will enhance my beauty. In terms of the “what I’m willing to suffer for my beauty” scale, I measure everything against the insane amount of pain one experiences during a Brazilian wax. And let me tell you, having hair yanked from genitals with these long, sticky strips is not a quick process, and it’s not an easy one, either. If you’re willing to go through that kind of pain just to have your nether regions as smooth and hairless as a mannequin’s or a Barbie doll’s, then having a little spinning needle dragged over your face is no big deal.
Dr. Ghaly is Egyptian and has one of those accents that make him sound like a genie or a wise man or, at the very least, a gentle soul, so you’re put at ease instantly by his grandfatherly manner. He calls you “dear” or “honey” or “sweetie” like he’s known you since you were a baby. He takes his time in the way a master craftsman would, a distinct calm in his manner that’s sort of timeless and classic and all too rare among doctors who race the clock against how little the insurance company pays them.
His assistant Debbie drew my blood and then applied numbing cream all over my face, and I think I swallowed some of it because my tongue went numb and then my throat, and I started to wonder if I might have accidentally poisoned myself as I sat there drooling, trying not to have a panic attack.
While all that was going on, Dr. Ghaly took the three vials of blood and put it into a centrifuge machine that separated the hemoglobin from the plasma. Then he took the plasma and mixed it with his proprietary formula of proteins and drew it into a syringe that had a spinning needle head on it. I lay on the table and he dragged that spinning needle thing all over my face, neck and chest, which felt exactly how you’d imagine it would: kind of like a cheese grater. Not too bad on my cheeks, chin and forehead, but no picnic as he went over my lips, eyelids and under-eye area. The whole process took maybe 15 minutes, and on the Brazilian Wax Scale of Torture in the Name of Beauty, it was probably a 6.
The plasma is clear, and it’s injected under the first few layers of skin, also leaving a clear film on top. I was instructed to leave it on for 24 hours. My face looked like I’d been attacked by a cat, with small scratches and patches of blood all over that went away by the following morning. You can’t see the plasma, but I’m not going to lie — it kind of stinks. It smells like, well, blood.
As soon as I got into the car with my smelly, scratched-up face, I called my editor Mike, who had given me the assignment.
“Dude,” I said, a little bit afraid to move my lips. “I’m sitting here with my own blood all over my face. Seriously?”
When I got home, Ryan said, “Your face smells kind of like oatmeal.”
Gertie the pug, who I hope lives forever, sniffed me incessantly, confused by the dead-animal scent she surely was picking up through her smashed little face.
When I finally washed the plasma off 24 hours later, my face still looked like my face: nothing major, nothing drastic.
But then every day, it got better and better until it got to the point where it no longer looked like my face but a flawless, glowing, 10-years-younger version of my face. My skin looked better than it looked, like, ever, even-toned and vibrant.
I took, like, a bunch of photos of myself and sent them to anyone who might pretend to care. I was that proud. Old-shmold. Money can’t buy you love, but it sure as hell can buy you a few years when it comes to having younger-looking skin (the PRP facial comes with a hefty price tag: $1,600). I can only hope my someday-16-year-old pug will approve.
The Princess’s pug turns 11 months old Friday. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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