Belfast Telegraph

Duchess of York opens up on how a Northern Ireland-based doctor helps her look young

The Duchess of York has had considerable cosmetic surgery (Ian West/PA)
The Duchess of York has had considerable cosmetic surgery (Ian West/PA)

The Duchess of York has spoken of how she credits her youthful looks to a certain Northern Ireland-based doctor.

Polish-born Dr Gabriela Mercik, who has clinics in Omagh and Harley Street in London, first met Sarah Ferguson in 1992 when she was visiting cancer patients in Poland, where Dr Merchik was a medical student.

The pair stayed in touch and Dr Mercik went on to specialise in aesthetic medicine, opening her first clinic in Northern Ireland, before expanding into London.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Fergie, who turns 60 next month, said she used to undergo Botox treatment, but now prefers Dr Mercik's renowned, non-invasive "ultimate laser facelift", which prevents the "frozen look" of Botox.

"I had Botox a long time ago when there was nothing else available,” she said.

“I really don’t like the frozen look. 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.”

Dr Mercik said Botox is now "passe" and she now uses what she calls "the world's first 6-Dimension Ultimate Laser Treatment facelift", which starts at £3,750 and can be completed in less that 90 minutes, with no recovery time.

"Now we have different treatments we can use instead (of Botox)," the doctor said.

"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."

Fergie said she undergoes the laser facelift whenever she manages to sit still long enough.

"I live on jingly-jangly nerves. I’m very focused, earnestly intense, but I live at high speed," she explained.

"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."

The Duchess has also benefited from Dr Mercik's range of skincare serums and other threatments.

Sarah in the chapel for her daughter Eugenie’s wedding (Danny Lawson/PA)
Sarah in the chapel for her daughter Eugenie’s wedding (Danny Lawson/PA)

"Her serum (Aesthetic Magic Facelift Serum) is great for healing cold sores. Incredible," she said.

"I’ve been her guinea pig with new treatments, too. I’m really happy to be open about what I’ve had done."

Another kind of facelift that Dr Mercik has performed on the Duchess is a procedure known as the "puppet lift", which is non-invasive and uses medical threads inserted into the skin to create a mesh that pulls the face upwards.

The threads dissolve after around seven months, with the results lasting up to two years. Dr Merchik was the first introduced the treatment to the UK in 2013.

Fergie said: "It’s like garden trellising for sweat peas. You insert the threads under the skin with a fine needle and they hold everything up."

"They also encourage collagen production. It takes a couple of months, then the sweet peas bloom!

"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."

Dr Mercik said the the are several factors which can determine how long treatments last.

"If you’re aged 40 to 50 you might need two or three to get optimum results," she said.

"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."

The Duchess said her fair skin was exposed to too much sunshine when she was a child, prompting her to seek treatments that could help repair the damage.

"When I was little, my mother thought Nivea moisturiser was sunscreen. Of course it wasn’t. So that’s where the damage began," she explained.

"My father (Major Ronald Ferguson), who died in 2003, had melanoma (skin cancer), and my best friend Carolyn Cotterell 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.

"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."

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