This Dr Barbara Sturm Facial May Hurt but the Results Are Addictive

Pin It
KLJ_DrBSturm_MountStStore_12.04.21_Shot 11-023 cop
Dr Barbara Sturm Spa, Mount Street, LondonCourtesy Dr Barbara Sturm

Morpheus8 – a facial referred to as a “non-invasive facelift” – is one of the revolutionary new aesthetic treatments available at Dr Barbara Sturm on Mount Street

For those uninitiated to injectables or cosmetic surgery, the Morpheus8 treatment could be quite daunting. Despite the ultra-luxe surroundings of the Dr Barbara Sturm spa on London’s high-end Mount Street, this facial is about as far from a pampering self-care spa day as being shot in the face repeatedly with a staple gun. And that’s exactly what this treatment feels like. But there’s a reason Hollywood’s great and/or gorgeous are volunteering readily for this expensive assault.

Known as the non-invasive facelift, Morpheus8 channels radio frequency through a stamp of 24 microneedles (larger, 40-needle heads are used on the body). After applying numbing cream all over the face and neck (it takes 30-45 minutes to take full effect and feels a lot like anaesthetic), the stamp is administered in a grid formation across the skin – like a staple gun, puncturing the skin with one staple per cm2. A 3mm needle stamp is used across the neck and lower face (up to the eyes); 2mm needles are used around and above the eyes – the bonier part of the face. These needles penetrate the skin to a medical-grade depth, essentially traumatising the skin cells to stimulate collagen and fibroblast production – essentially, healing. This, in turn, rejuvenates and tightens the skin, improves texture and the appearance of pores, plumps wrinkles and actually improves facial structure.

For added impact, you can upgrade your treatment with your own plasma. After having a blood sample taken, your blood is spun to separate its white and red blood cells. Rich in proteins, minerals and hormones your white blood cells – the plasma – can be applied topically to the skin for the microneedles to deliver the plasma back into the deeper layers of the skin, multiplying the benefits of the treatment by three or four.

It’s about as serious as a non-invasive procedure can be. It hurts – not massively, but it requires a bit of deep breathing and some meditative endurance – and aftercare is strictly commanded. You have to avoid sun exposure for one week; apply SPF every day after treatment (Dr Sturms brand new SPF30 Sun Drops come in handy here); avoid make-up for a minimum of five to seven days; avoid retinoids for two weeks; avoid exercise and sweating for 48 hours; avoid steam for 48 hours (that means no baths, cool showers); avoid touching the face for 24 hours and no exciting skincare or active ingredients for one week. You should employ only Dr Sturms Calming Serum, Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera Gel (it’s not enough for my thirsty skin so I add a thick slug of the uber-simple Cerave Moisturising Cream on top). And you leave the spa very red. I recommend a cap and glasses: you can look and feel a little strung out on that tube ride home. Recovery time varies depending on the nature of your skin, of course: for me, the redness receded by the time I’d reached home but I had red track marks (they looked like actual tyre tracks from a miniature Hot Wheels) down my neck for about a day after my first visit.

I say ‘first visit’ because I went back for more. The results are not immediate – it takes time to produce that new collagen and see its benefits but experts say you’re looking at approximately two weeks before you start to see results. Looking in the mirror on my two-week anniversary, I couldn’t see any difference at all. I harrumphed. But the following day, bam; I looked, as one might say on TikTok, snatched. Like my face had spent a month in boot camp and detox misery while I’d slept. The compliments began flowing in and my skin got steadily glower and bouncier, week by week.

Sergio Gomez, the soothing aesthetics nurse practitioner at Dr Sturm who gently ushered me through the treatment, had told me that maximum benefits came by way of three rounds of Morpheus8 (with four to six weeks in between), followed by a session of Profhilo (an injectable hyaluronic acid that surges skin with moisture from the inside out – this I have not tried as perhaps irrationally Im still scared of anything injected). Some extra snatched celebrities are known to use the body tip on their face – which I can only assume is absolutely excruciating (Sergio says this would have much more downtime: two to three weeks of redness, at least).

But I can see why they want more and more. As my skin improved, I quickly booked in for a second session, at which I volunteered for a second round of needling: Sergio follows the first standard application with a second, this time a 1mm needle all over, thus stimulating the dermis at multiple depths, enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment (like when you buy hyaluronic acid with multiple weights so the molecules can penetrate at multiple layers). The second round verged on hot, searing pain towards the end – I was wincing – since my skin was already inflamed from round one. I was much redder, though it calmed quickly, except for, again, the neck. This time the track marks lasted three days and felt bumpy.

Once home, a little rawer (rolling an ice ball across my face), I saw LA-based celebrity facialist Shani Darden plied with numbing cream and awaiting the same treatment on her Instagram stories. “The best results are supposed to come between visits two and three,” she said. I felt vindicated, thrilled to be bio-hacking my way to fresher, juicier-looking skin. Pampering it sure ain’t, but it’s so good it’s addictive.

The 90 minute treatment is available at Dr Barbara Sturm, Mount Street, London.