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Can virtual reality headsets make painful tweakments a thing of the past?

This gadget is set to change the face of aesthetics treatments

When it comes to today's beauty standards the old adage, ‘no pain, no gain’ may spring to mind, as many of us consider at least a little pain par for the course . But just imagine if discomfort during an aesthetic treatment was a thing of the past – cue, virtual reality.

Social media is full of laugh out loud videos of people trying virtual reality headsets for the first time. But if you're not au fait with all things VR, essentially, it's a three-dimensional, computer-generated simulation that transports the wearer into a different reality. From gaming and working out, to swimming with sharks, or base jumping off a skyscraper, there are a plethora of ways to escape the confines of lockdown life without leaving the house.

This has seen a 350 per cent rise in VR goggle sales during the current worldwide pandemic, but post lockdown you may start noticing this high-tech gadgetry at your favourite aesthetics clinic too.

Rewiring the brain

‘Virtual reality has been an emerging pain management tool,’ shares former anaesthetist Dr Sophie Shotter, who is the first aesthetic doctor to use VR in the UK at her Illuminate Skin & Wellness Clinic. In recent years hospitals, and other healthcare settings have used VR for things like immunising children, pain management during labour and changing burn victims’ bandages – as research shows a significant reduction in patients’ experience of pain.

First and foremost, it works as a distraction, and as a relaxation tool as some images and experiences can help lower cortisol levels by actively relaxing the patient. When entering a more relaxed state patients are no longer fearful of what’s to come, so they will naturally feel less pain. Plus, if there is a reduction in the sensation of pain, stress hormones are less likely to be activated, stopping blood pressure from rising, reducing excess bleeding and bruising. But that is not all, ‘it does more than just distract the mind from pain - it actually helps to block pain signals from reaching the brain, significantly reducing drug requirements,’ adds Shotter.

Tweakment aid

This is welcome news for the 24 per cent of those considering aesthetics treatments who worry about how painful said treatments might be. As well as for those who prefer treatments that are notoriously more painful than others, even when painkillers are taken or numbing cream is applied. Think injectables and radiofrequency, microneedling, body contouring, and ultrasound treatments.

Plus, if you consider that for some people pain relief can be an irritant or an allergen, VR sounds like the answer to all our prayers. While for those who are generally scared of the sight of needles, or the idea of experiencing pain however mild, VR headsets like the Oculus Go used by Shotter, 'can help calm their anxiety, thanks to its numerous relaxing programs, such as guided mediation set in scenic locations,' says Shotter.

With the mounting evidence that VR is worth the hype, we predict clinics up and down the country will invest in this tech to make your tweakment experiences more pleasurable than painful. However, it’s worth noting that we all have different pain thresholds, and that VR might not completely eliminate your pain, but it's more than likely to lower it.

So, if you’ve let possible discomfort  hold you back from trying a particular aesthetic treatment, this futuristic gadget may well help you get the gain without the pain.

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