Vampire Facelift (PRP)
Vampires are quite the pop culture phenomenon, so it’s no surprise that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments, also known as “vampire facelifts,” are having a moment in dermatology. Kim Kardashian herself boasted about the treatment back in 2013, and the trend has shown no sign of slowing. You can also thank Ms. Kardashian-West for the procedure’s spooky moniker.
Here’s everything you need to know about vampire facelifts, how they work, and whether it’s the right treatment for you.
The Power of Platelets
The nickname “vampire facelift” stems comes from one simple factor: blood. Vampires love it, and so does your skin tissue.
Specifically, the procedure works by injecting your own blood, in the form of plasma-rich platelets, into whichever area you want to rejuvenate or repair—most commonly on the face. This may sound unnerving, but it’s actually a minimally-invasive, straightforward process.
The power is all in the platelets, which inherently contain growth factors that stimulate the following:
- Collagen synthesis
- Skin renewal
- Cell growth
- Tissue regeneration
Platelets are a funny little hybrid of cell and molecule, sometimes called “cell fragments.” They have amazing, restorative “clotting” power, which can help heal skin when concentrated.
Because the blood is yours, your body will adopt it without complication. The procedure essentially mimics the body’s own healing process: no chemicals, no foreign substances, and no allergic reactions. Treating affected areas heals the skin and can slow or reverse the effects of aging, like wrinkles and sagging.
PRP treatment is fairly basic, and shouldn’t take longer than an hour all together. Your clinician will likely clean your skin with hibiclens and apply antiseptic before beginning, and take a picture for a before and after look.
- Step 1) Extraction: About 120 cc of blood is extracted from the patient. This about the same amount as a standard blood sample, so it’s fairly quick and painless.
- Step 2) Blood treatment: After it’s extracted, your blood is put into a centrifuge where it is spun in order to separate red and white blood cells from the platelets and plasma. The latter, called “platelet-rich plasma” is the solution used in this procedure.
- Step 3) Injection: The platelet-rich plasma is injected into your skin with an autoinjector that has 6 penetrating needles at one time. The platelet-rich plasma releases its growth factors, stimulating cells surrounding the injection site and causing them to increase in volume. This “plumping” effect reduces fine lines and wrinkles by sending a signal out to cells to come fix the injury site. The influx of repair cells improves the overall quality, texture, and tightness of the skin treated.
After the procedure, your clinician may apply ice to reduce inflammation. Patients may experience mild swelling, bruising, and discoloration, which will fade from 1-3 days. In general, side effects are rare. You won’t be craving blood or shying away from sunlight and garlic knots, but you are likely to notice a difference in your appearance.
Is It For You?
Is the Vampire Facelift for you? Possibly, but the answer doesn’t depend on your love of True Blood. It’s all about what you’re looking for.
Many people don’t want plastic surgery, but still want to do something when their skin isn’t cooperating or looking its best. For those that are shy about invasive procedures, chemicals, and skin removal or filler, PRP treatment is a great option that is just about as natural as a cosmetic procedure can be, and as safe too.
Even better, Dracula may be a work of fiction, but science is on PRP’s side. A peer reviewed study from 2010, for example, concluded after analyzing patients over the course of their treatment that the procedure was satisfactory, the results effective, and the side effects neither serious nor persistent. After treatment, patients will feel mild swelling and tightness in the treated area. This will go away shortly after.
PRP is also incredibly synergistic with other treatments, like microneedling, so you can approach your issues holistically rather than picking just one option and calling it a day.