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The reality of reality TV
Dr Sarah Hart, Appearance Medicine, Skin Institute
September 6, 2016

If you watched episode three of Real Housewives of Auckland you might have seen me treat Julia Sloane’s neck, while Louise Wallace and champagne lady Anne Batley-Burton cracked jokes, hassled Julia and gossiped about the “upper echelons of Auckland society”.

Despite being referred to as a “vampire” treatment, that’s not what we do at Skin Institute. Julia received a Platelet Rich Plasma treatment combined with Dermal Needling. It’s a popular treatment as it harnesses your own natural resources to improve your skin. We do three types of PRP treatment here at Skin Institute.

Our surgeons at Skin Institute have used Platelet Rich Plasma treatment, or PRP, for years to assist healing after reconstructive surgery. The best evidence for PRP improving skin is combining it with another treatment, such as dermal needling or fractional laser. Emerging opinion is that you’ll see most benefit in the neck. So when the request came through for a gentle neck rejuvenation procedure to improve softness and radiance, PRP with dermal needling was our first choice.

As you see on the show, first I numbed the treatment area with cream, before taking a small vial of Julia’s blood, as I would for any normal blood test.

Next, I spun the vial in a centrifuge to separate Julia’s plasma from her red blood cells. PRP contains 5-10 times the normal level of platelets. Platelets are cell fragments that release growth factors, which initiate the healing process. When introduced into damaged skin, PRP helps form new collagen and blood vessels.

As I gently injected PRP just under her skin’s surface, Julia commented, “I can hardly feel it”. Next, I swept a special tool called a Dermapen over Julia’s neck. This makes tiny punctures in the skin, which sounds scary, but is well tolerated. Julia was too busy talking to even notice what I was doing. Louise and Anne had launched into an attack about who called Gilda a gold digger first, and she was furiously defending herself. Julia got a very thorough treatment – these ladies can talk.

At the end of the treatment Julia sat up, fluttered her lashes and innocently asked, “So, how do I look?”  Louise, unashamedly fond of stirring Julia, proclaimed,  “Your neck looks terrible!!” Louise loves controversy – and knows exactly what she’s doing. The next day the NZ Herald described Julia’s neck as an “infected scrotum from Embarrassing Bodies”. Such drama! But nothing on reality TV is exaggerated….right?

Keep in mind Julia attends the “Pussy Party” in her low-cut black leather catsuit the very next night. Is there a single murmur about the scrotal quality of her décolletage? For those of you who haven’t watched it, the answer is no. Nada. Not a peep. And it’s not because everyone was too busy watching Gilda and Angela Stone nearly trade punches. Let me explain.

Dramatic redness immediately after treatment is expected – in fact, desired – but it resolves quickly. The numbing cream causes flushing and the dermal needling creates minuscule punctures. Blood vessels rush healing cells to the area, causing redness and swelling. This response is vital to achieving rejuvenation, as these cells release growth factors to stimulate your fibroblasts to make fresh collagen. Because the area has also been infused with nourishing PRP, it has a bumpy quality that resembles turkey skin. Or a scrotum.

Disappointingly for TV cameras, the drama is usually over within 24 hours. Once the PRP is absorbed, all that’s left to see is some pinkness and perhaps a bruise or two. This can usually be easily covered with a scarf and concealer. You can apply it yourself if, unlike Julia, you don’t have your own well-muscled makeup artist on hand.

As an example, our lovely Appearance Medicine nurse Sally, has shared her photos. Here she is immediately after a PRP dermal needling treatment to her neck and around both eyes. Notice her red neck.


And here she is the next day, disguising her neck with a scarf, revealing faintly flushed skin.  “There wasn’t much to see the next day,” says Sally. “My neck was a bit pink with one small bruise but nothing else. My eyes were more noticeable, but concealer covered most of it”


So what results should Julia expect? PRP with needling can improve the softness and radiance of your skin, making it reflect light better. It won’t give you a dramatic change like neck lift surgery, so it’s a good treatment for people wanting subtle refreshment. Because it relies on the body’s own healing processes, it takes time to see a result. New collagen and blood vessels begin to grow after three to six weeks, and skin repair happens over the next three months. Because it is a natural process, results can vary, and occasionally changes at a cellular level do not translate to a visible change.

You’ll need a course of three treatments six weeks apart for optimal results. You don’t have to be a glamorous  “Housewife” to benefit – our patients are just like you and me, looking for a natural treatment for their skin.

If you’d like to find out more, direct from one of our friendly Appearance Medicine nurses, book a cosmetic consultation by phoning 0800 SKIN DR (0800 754 637) or go to skininstitute.co.nz.

Written by:
Dr Sarah Hart
Advanced Injectable Treatments, Appearance Medicine

Read more about Dr Sarah Hart.