Perhaps one of the most talked about procedures on the market right now is the vampire facial: the craze started back in 2013, when we learned that Kim Kardashian was incorporating them into her beauty regimen.
Unsurprisingly, the trend continues to grow. Charlotte’s Book reported earlier this month that users continue to have a great interest in no-injection, non-invasive treatments. Anecdotally, CB has seen an increasing number of physicians expand their services to include PRP/Vampire facials and Microneedling.
Meanwhile, RealSelf released the statistics this morning to prove it, revealing that, accounting for site growth, the number of visits from users to the Vampire Facelift grew 25% from the last half of 2014 to the last half of 2015.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: WHAT’S THE PRP FACIAL?
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma. PRP is taken from your blood and applied to (PRP Facial) or injected into (PRP facelift) your skin. The PRP facial utilizes the nutrients and growth factors from a sample of the patient’s own blood and combines them with the benefits of microneedling, or, in the case of the PRP facelift, can be injected into the skin. Both processes revitalize the skin, leaving it refreshed and rejuvenated—ultimately, the skin is stimulated and produces more collagen.
WHAT DOES THE PRP FACIAL ENTAIL?
First, a sample of blood is taken, just like when you get routine blood tests performed. Generally, one tube—or a little more than one and a half teaspoons of blood—is drawn from the arm of choice.
Next, the sample is spun in a centrifuge so that the platelet rich plasma can be isolated. Sometimes red blood cells are mixed with this, and that translates to a red hue on the skin when the mixture is applied: this is what you see in Kim Kardashian’s photos.
After the area to be treated is made numb with a topical numbing cream and thoroughly cleaned and prepped, a microneedling device can be used. This device uses several sterile, ultrafine needles that create small, superficial wounds in a highly controlled way.
IS IT PAINFUL?
The procedure sounds scary but with the right amount of numbing, it can be painless and effortless! After performing the procedure on my own face, I found it to be relatively painless. While microneedling is going on, platelet rich plasma is intermittently applied to the skin. It can either be applied to the skin itself or injected into the skin (the PRP facelift). It is important that you are treated by an experienced professional who specializes in this type of treatment.
WHAT’S THE DOWNTIME?
Downtime is minimal and most patients can return to normal activity the following day—some feel comfortable resuming normal activities even on the day of treatment.
WHAT CAN A PRP FACIAL DO FOR YOU?
It can help rejuvenate facial and neck skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and certain types of scars. With a series of treatments, collagen production is stimulated, leading to smoother, softer skin. Facial rejuvenation can also come in the form of a more “awake” appearance. If you decide to supplement PRP treatments with fillers, under eye bags and sagging skin can also be addressed, as these can provide more volume in areas of the face that thin out or appear more hollow over time.
WHEN WILL I SEE RESULTS?
Depending on the microneedling device used, a series of four treatments (separated by 4-6 weeks) is typically performed, and benefits build over time with each additional treatment. Results aren’t usually noticeable until after a few treatments, but based on my experience, improvements can be noticeable earlier in some patients.
WHY DOES THIS WORK?
The secret is in the platelet rich plasma, which contains key growth factors that possess regenerative and revitalizing properties that stimulate wound healing and collagen production, which is why it is believed to help reduce fine lines and scarring and improve the texture and radiance of the skin.
IS PRP RIGHT FOR YOU?
Depending on what your goals are, there are several different treatments that can rejuvenate and revitalize the skin with little to no downtime. If acne, melasma, and/or pigmentation are your main concerns, PRP might not be for you. In that case, a micro-peel, photo-facial, laser resurfacing or topical treatments might be the best options.
But if you’re looking for overall facial rejuvenation or for the treatment of targeted areas such as fine lines or volume loss in the cheeks or under the eyes or you’re weary of fillers or laser treatments, then facial PRP treatments might be a great alternative for you.
Image: Bar Refaeli’s instagram. Studies used to support this article: A systematic review of the use of platelet-rich plasma in aesthetic dermatology, An evaluation of the effect of platelet-rich plasma on recovery after the ablative fractional photothermolysis, Split face comparative study of microneedling with PRP versus microneedling with Vitamin C In Treating Atrophic Post Acne Scars,
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Dr. Amanda Doyle is a dermatologist practicing on the Upper East Side. She specializes in vampire facials.