‘I’ve had a LOT of help to look like this at 60!’: There have been rumours of cosmetic tweaks over the years, now, ahead of a milestone birthday, the Duchess of York finally confesses all… from Botox and two types of facelift to stem cell therapy
- Duchess of York confessed to the work less than a week before 60th birthday
- Speaking to FEMAIL, the royal revealed the procedures in glorious detail
- Former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, has impressively few grey hairs
Don’t you get a bit sick of celebrities who look ten years younger than they did a decade ago, protesting that they’ve had ‘nothing done’ and insisting their youthfulness is all down to yoga and sunblock?
And isn’t it refreshing when someone fesses up and admits: I’ve had a couple of procedures, a helping hand; it’s not all thanks to good genes and abstemious living? So, hurrah for Sarah, Duchess of York who today, less than a week away from her 60th birthday, gives us an honest insight into the help she’s had in holding back the clock. The Duchess has fair skin, impressively few grey hairs and is prone to wrinkles, but looked surprisingly well at her daughter Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank last year.
Was it just maternal pride that made her skin glow as she walked up the steps at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, for her younger daughter’s big day? Or was there a bit of something else, besides?
In a shocking interview the Duchess of York revealed that she has relied on botox, organic fillers, vitamin injections, a laser facelift AND a threadlift to maintain her appearance
The former wife of Prince Andrew, Sarah, pictured in 2012 (left) and in 2013 (right) after receiving a vitamin injection to plump up the skin
Both says Sarah. Speaking exclusively to the Mail, she confesses: ‘The happiness was shining out of me because my daughter was getting married. I was so glad. I love Jack. When I’m passionate about anything, my eyes shine.
‘Above all, it was being joyful for Eugenie that made me look good. But I’d had some laser treatment on my face which helped, too.’
The laser treatment comes with extraordinary claims. It purports to be everything we’d wish from a cosmetic pro-cedure: pain-free, non-invasive, with no recovery time and accomplished in no more than 90 minutes.
The woman behind the Duchess’s treatment is Polish-born Dr Gabriela Mercik, who at her Harley Street clinic, has just launched what she calls the world’s first 6-Dimension Ultimate Laser Treatment facelift.
What does 6-Dimension mean? ‘We wanted a unique name to show we’re pioneering things,’ says Dr Gabriela’s son Greg, 29, an IT graduate, who’s trained to carry out non-invasive procedures. ‘People have heard of 3D glasses — we wanted to go a step beyond that.’
The royal goes to Harley Street doctor Gabriela Mercik, who offers a six-dimensional ultimate laser treatment facelift for more than £3,000
The Duchess and Dr Gabriela met in 1992 when Sarah was visiting young cancer victims in Upper Silesia, Poland. The doctor, then a medical student, was helping to treat them.
They’ve stayed in touch. ‘I’m very loyal to my friends,’ says the Duchess. When Dr Gabriela moved into aesthetic medicine, and opened her clinic, firstly in Northern Ireland, and then in London, Sarah became one of her patients.
Dr Gabriela has treated Sarah with her rejuvenating facial procedures every time the Duchess has managed to sit still for long enough, since.
‘I live on jingly-jangly nerves. I’m very focused, earnestly intense, but I live at high speed,’ explains Sarah. ‘I don’t sit down for long. I’m always saying to Dr Gabriela: “Come on, come on! Hurry up!” I’m the worst patient.’
So it’s just as well her ‘ultimate laser facelift’ as it’s called, is a quick treatment which can be accomplished in a lunch-hour.
The facelift, which purports to promote the skin’s natural production of youth-restoring collagen, is said to continue to work as the weeks pass.
The former wife to Prince Andrew also revealed that she deployed laser treatment on her face to make sure she looked her best for Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank last year (pictured on the day with Princess Beatrice of York)
Fergie pictured left in 2012 and right at daughter Eugenie’s wedding after receiving several treatments to help stave off the effects of aging
The Duchess much prefers it to Botox, the botulinum toxin injections that relax the muscles in your face to smooth out lines and wrinkles. ‘I had Botox a long time ago when there was nothing else available,’ says the Duchess.
‘But it’s passé now,’ says Dr Gabriela. ‘Now we have different treatments we can use instead. Toxins are always toxins, so I’ve looked for alternatives. I only use Botox if a patient specifically asks for it, and I try to explain what would be better.’
Dr Gabriela first met the Princess in 1992, when she visited cancer victims in Upper Silesia, Poland, where the doctor was a medical student
‘I really don’t like the frozen look,’ puts in Sarah. ‘I’m so animated and I like to be myself. I don’t like the thought of needles and am very glad if I look well and happy.’
The Duchess also uses Dr Gabriela’s skincare range of serums and unguents.
‘Her serum (Aesthetic Magic Facelift Serum) is great for healing cold sores. Incredible,’ says Sarah. ‘I’ve been her guinea pig with new treatments, too. I’m really happy to be open about what I’ve had done.’
Sarah began having mesotherapy — an injection of vitamins, minerals and amino acids under the face’s mesodermal layer to plump skin — in 2013, then moved onto organic fillers, non-invasive injectables that fill out facial lines.
Then, five years ago, Dr Gabriela proposed a thread lift. Also called ‘a puppet lift’, this involves no knives. Instead, medical threads are inserted into the skin to create a supportive mesh that pulls the face upwards.
The threads dissolve over six to eight months, but the results should last for two years. Dr Gabriela was one of the first to introduce the thread lift to the UK in 2013 and travels around the world teaching the procedure.
‘It’s like garden trellising for sweat peas. You insert the threads under the skin with a fine needle and they hold everything up,’ says Sarah.
Sarah photographed at a glamorous exhibition opening in May in Toronto, Canada
Sarah with Princess Eugenie at The Beatles 50th anniversary event in London in 2017
‘They also encourage collagen production. It takes a couple of months, then the sweet peas bloom!’ she adds. ‘Before I had it done I thought, “Oh this is going to be painful,” but it wasn’t bad. My skin responded well. I think if you look at photos of me after I had it done, I look much better.’
‘We inserted nano peptides (synthetic growth factors) under the skin which, with the synthetic threads, stimulate collagen production,’ explains Dr Gabriela. ‘But now we’ve swapped the threads for laser because it’s non-invasive.’
Sarah confides that she hopes the laser treatment will help her look her best for her 60th birthday next Tuesday.
Dr Gabriela says a multitude of factors determine how long treatments last and how many are necessary. ‘If you’re aged 40 to 50 you might need two or three to get optimum results. Other factors come into play: lifestyle, smoking, environment, the colour of your skin, whether you dance all night … The Duchess is a challenge because redheads have more sensitive skin.’
Prices for the 6D laser lift start at £3,750. Sarah has and does pay for treatments ‘at Dr Gabriela’s discretion,’ given that they have become friends.
Sarah is wearing heels — black faux croc stilettos — which show off her slim ankles. When we met last year she was in flats because high heels were so painful (she reminds me how relieved she was to flump down in her pew and rest her feet at Eugenie’s wedding).
Sarah photographed smiling at the Grosvenor House Hotel in June this year
Today, she reveals she has since had pioneering regenerative stem cell therapy on her feet.
‘I went to the Bahamas in March to have the treatment,’ she says, proffering a Cinderella-sized foot for inspection. ‘I think my toes were ruined by all the riding I did when I was young. They shaved the bone here,’ she indicates the spot by her big toe, ‘and implanted stem cells — 20 million of them taken from my midriff — into my feet to make new cartilage.
‘It takes about six months to heal but now I can walk in heels!’
Stem cell therapies, an alternative to surgery, are fashionable, but not yet fully proven to be safe and effective. Consequently, they are not widely available in the UK.
Dr Gabriela adds that she has reservations about the indiscriminate use of scalpels on the face.
‘I have a duty to educate women that it’s very important to stop having cosmetic surgery because the trauma isn’t good,’ she says.
Dr Gabriela, who appears to do her treatments while wearing a neck scarf, pearls, and a suit, gives a 6D laser treatment to Irish hat maker Grainne Maher
And the doctor pictured with Grainne Maher after the surgery has been completed
She adds that she first learned about minimally-invasive techniques when she was a medical school student at the Silesian Centre for Heart Diseases in Zabrze, Poland.
There, in the early Nineties, the centre began inserting stents, using guide wires under the skin, to open the heart vessels, instead of conventional heart surgery.
‘It was revolutionary in cardiology at the time,’ says Dr Gabriela, ‘and it made me think about applying similar ideas to aesthetic medicine. Surgery and anaesthesia carry risks. And why should a facelift make us look like a starched sheet?’
The Duchess admits that her fine, fair skin was exposed to far too much sunshine when she was a child.
‘When I was little, my mother thought Nivea moisturiser was sunscreen. Of course it wasn’t. So that’s where the damage began.
‘My father [Major Ronald Ferguson], who died in 2003, had melanoma [skin cancer], and my best friend Carolyn Cotterell [who shared a house with Fergie in the mid-Eighties] also died of a malignant melanoma. She was 43. It made me realise you have to look after your skin just as much as your other organs. It isn’t just about aesthetics. We have to think about our skin health.
The Duchess pictured arriving in Cannes on a yacht wearing a flowing red dress
The Duchess in 2009 with her daughters Princess Eugenie (left) and Princess Beatrice (right) attending a Young Victoria performance in Toronto, Canada
‘That’s why I don’t go in the sun now. The tan I have is out of a bottle. Fake.
‘I need to repair the damage that was done on the beach when I was a child. It’s why I had the mesotherapy, the vitamin cocktail to hydrate and boost the skin. I’ve started the laser treatment, but it’s not finished yet. The collagen needs to rebuild. I hope it will all be done by my birthday.’
‘We have quite a lot of sun damage to repair,’ tuts Dr Gabriela, who says she used to be a hospital doctor, but following a stint in cardiology — first in Poland then Northern Ireland — decided to change course after she had breast cancer.
‘I had always been interested in art and aesthetics, so I went to a conference on aesthetic medicine and that was it,’ she explains.
She is evangelistic about lasers and their diverse functions, telling me she successfully treated her son’s terrible acne (how mortified the poor chap must be!), which had failed to respond to even the strongest antibiotics.
She also insisted her husband Donald, 55, whose baggy eyes were not a good advert for her business, used her serum.
‘I said to him, “You’re my business card! People will look at you and say, “She can’t fix her husband.” He’s always outside riding and he’s got a lot of sun damage. But now I’ve started laser treatment on him and look!’
She produces two photos: one of baggy, rheumy-eyed Donald and another of him looking (admittedly) spryer and wide-eyed.
It seems there is no end to lasers’ applications: originally developed by scientists working in the Russian Military Secret Service for use in intelligence, defence and optical communications, they were later adapted for medical use, for surgery, dentistry and gynaecology.
Dr Gabriela promises the Duchess that she will look — discreetly — more youthful by the day, as if the ageing process was being reversed bit-by-bit, by stealth.
By the time she turns 60, she should look subtly younger. And who are we to argue with that?
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