Platelet-rich plasma (PRP), otherwise known as the “vampire facial,” has become one of the biggest treatment trends in skin care since Kim Kardashian famously posted a selfie mid-treatment a couple years ago. Is all the attention warranted, though? Read on.
What to expect
The vampire facial is a three-step procedure. First, your dermatologist will draw a small amount of blood from your arm (about two to four tablespoons). Then, it’ll be placed into a centrifuge, which separates the blood into layers. The layer with the highest concentration of platelets will then be injected into your face with a syringe or microneedling (a device that looks like a lint roller with tiny needles sticking out of it). For immediate results, your dermatologist may also inject a filler.
The entire procedure should take no longer than an hour.
This can sound a little surreal, verging on torturous, I know. But PRP has shown tremendous potential across a number of fronts, from helping athletes recover faster from an injury to spurring new growth in people who’ve experienced hair loss.
There’s also some evidence that PRP can:
- Reduce wrinkles
- Plump up sagging skin
- Eliminate deep creases
- Improve one’s complexion
- Diminish acne scarring
Keep in mind, while PRP’s potential is widely accepted, we’re still in the earliest stages of understanding what it’s capable of and how it works. To this point, few studies have been conducted because the FDA considers PRP a medical device, since the treatment uses needles and a centrifuge, and its regulation of devices is less demanding than it is for new drugs.
Is it safe?
This much, at least, is certain: The vampire facial is safe. You may feel a little discomfort during the procedure, but it won’t be much because the needles are tiny. Afterward, you may experience some slight pain, bruising, and swelling, but it should all go away within a few days.
The biggest risk comes from how your blood is handled, which makes it all the more imperative that the treatment be performed by a board-certified dermatologist. It’s essential that the blood that’s drawn be kept sterile. Otherwise, you could develop an infection.
Typically, the full effects of the treatment appear within a few weeks to months. The studies so far indicate that at least three treatments are needed to achieve the desired results. Though, those results can last as long as 18 months.