Plasma Pen: Is It Worth It?
"I have never seen an expression go from admiration to disbelief then pity so quickly."
By Melissa Baldrey Brown | Contributor
About 12 years ago, I was sitting in my mum’s backyard after a family BBQ, just having a quiet cuppa and watching the fire in the chiminea when suddenly, a spark flew out of the flames. It floated like a miniature firefly into the air and drifted slowly towards me. It was beautiful. I watched, mesmerised, as it landed gently on the back of my hand and felt like a tiny kiss…for about half a second. Then it felt exactly like searing flesh, not to exaggerate but I am sure it was like the lye kiss in Fight Club. The pain to size ratio was ridiculous. It literally throbbed for about five days. I think of it often, but at least I had learned my lesson regarding the importance of keeping my skin unburnt.
Turns out, I had not.
The pain of that injury has now been surpassed 100-fold, this time in the name of vanity: the Plasma Pen. It is advertised by the Australian Laser & Skin Clinics as a ‘Non-invasive beauty treatment that can improve the appearance of a range of skin concerns, including wrinkles and lines, stretch marks.' They also claim that ‘There is minimal downtime, however, there can be small formations of scabs and slight swelling post-treatment.’ Wonderful, pain-free youthfulness awaits!
The clinic I attended reiterated this information: definite youthfulness and only a couple of seconds of slight discomfort, barely negligible if they used the numbing cream.
At over $3000 for an upper eye and neck lift, I was putting quite a few eggs into this basket. Unfortunately, at 45 and after some recent weight loss, my turkey neck was making me uncomfortable and at-risk of being offered a Senior’s discount on my coffee. My hand was forced (by my pride) and I booked on in.
Me, Pre-Plasma Pen. Image: Supplied.
At my consultation, they were extremely enthusiastic about my treatment, even congratulating me on my decision, which I found slightly odd. “Well done, you’re doing the right thing!” Jeepers, I get it, my face needs work, no need for a Mexican wave.
Once I paid my $100 deposit (whilst furiously reading their Zip Money and Afterpay policies), I was sternly advised that my ‘tissue paper skin’ needed to be in the best possible condition and that I needed to use two extremely expensive products for two weeks prior to treatment to get it there. In fact, it was a prerequisite for the treatment and, “Oh look, we sell them here.” How very convenient.
I convinced myself that if I am in for a penny then it is okay to put a pound in the basket (I was so distracted by the combined firmness of the staff’s skin that I was mixing metaphors). The lotions were actually lovely on the skin. One week in, and I started thinking that maybe I didn’t need this Plasma Pen business at all. Then I saw myself in the car rearview mirror in daylight and promptly confirmed my appointment.
On the day of the Plasma Pen, I was genuinely excited. I had two weeks leave already booked, and planned to catch up with friends five days later. I was assured that I would be wide-eyed and baby-necked by then. I started to mentally prepare responses for the inevitable compliments that would be coming my way as the numbing cream was applied. Due to what I feared was a booking conflict, a few short minutes later I was abruptly ushered into the treatment room feeling decidedly un-numb. “Start with the eyes, shall we?” I was told, and we were off.
Suddenly, the floating spark was drifting down and bang. It was like receiving an electric shock from a tiny lava-coated pen tip. Then it happened again and again. It was relentless. The process from there was an excruciating blur as I tried to hark back to the chiminea burn for comfort. A full hour and a half later, I had hundreds of burn dots on my eyelids and neck. My eyes were streaming and everything was throbbing in unison. The air was thick with the acrid smell of burning flesh and a smoke haze filled the room. The beautician passed me a mirror, although I was more concerned about passing out. It took me a full 15 minutes nervously peering through forced open swollen eyes to believe it was truly over.
Above from L-R: Day 1 and then two pictures of Day 3 after the Plasma Pen procedure. Images: Supplied.
Over the next few days, my face went from raw, swollen, scabby, and achy to eventually, a full eight days later, scabbed and insanely itchy. I will let the photos tell the recovery story but suffice to say, my face was not safe for work until about day 14, which is NOT what I would call ‘minimal downtime’. The only momentary upside was that the cool chick who works at my local bottle shop thought I had an “Edgy neck tattoo” and mistakenly thought I too was cool until I corrected her. I have never seen an expression go from admiration to disbelief then pity so quickly.
So pity (and self-pity) aside, the results are what it is all about.
I am disappointed to report that the pain, the debt, and temporary disfigurement were not worth the outcome. I was hoping for a real-life Instagram filter effect, but the burn scars are still visible in sunlight and the firmness of my turkey neck remains unchanged. I feel I have in fact, made things worse.
From L-R: Day 8 and then Day 13 of the Plasma Pen procedure. Images: Supplied.
On a positive note, I have definitely, finally learned my skin-scorching lesson and will now embrace my advancing years and age gracefully.
Actually…embrace is probably too strong a word, as is graceful come to think of it.
Matter of fact, excuse me while I google Hollywood neck tape.
Melissa Baldrey Brown is a freelance writer who loves to throw herself into thoughts and stories and opportunities then share them.
She also likes waking up to her three-year-old’s little feet in her face. Which is lucky.