You've probably seen the photos on Instagram: A celebrity or influencer's face covered with blood splatter. No, it's not Halloween makeup, it's actually one of the latest treatment trends in skin care, also known as a "vampire facial." Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Bar Refaeli, are fans of the facial, which might look quite scary, but boasts big-time results.
So, what is it and how does it work, exactly? Don't let the name fool you. In fact, "It's usually done in full light of day," says Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Ava Shamban. In all seriousness, the treatment is a "combination of a microdermabrasion, followed by the application of PRP (platelet-rich plasma)," says Shamban. "The PRP is derived from the serum portion of the blood, which contains platelets. The platelets contain high levels of growth factors, which, when applied to the skin, will stimulate cell turnover."
In laymen's terms: It's a facial that essentially uses, "your own blood to help promote the healthy activity of your skin cells," says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our blood is comprised of red blood cells and serum, which contain our white blood cells and platelets.
Platelets, Zeichner explains, are rich in growth factors, which essentially act as energy boots for our skin. This helps our skin function optimally, increasing everything from collagen to elastin, while also bringing antioxidant and hydrating properties. "Platelet-rich plasma is now commonly used topically as part of a regular facial, used along with microneedling to enhance penetration into the skin, and is even being injected into the skin in the same manner as dermal fillers," says Zeichner.
Sound serious? Well, it sort of is — since the treatment begins with venipuncture (a blood draw) to obtain the blood. But, contrary to popular belief, it's relatively painless — aside from the first needle pinch.
Typically, the process includes the initial blood draw, then running the blood through a centrifuge to isolate the platelets. You'll then receive microneedling or microdermabrasion just before your PRPs are slathered across your face. This can be accompanied with or without radio frequency, too. "It sounds gory and mysterious, but in fact, it is central to our evolving understanding of the physiology of the skin and advanced techniques with which to improve the quality of the skin," says Shamban.
As for recovery, it might take a day or two of downtime before you're ready to hit the streets. Shamban says recipients may need one or two days, depending on how aggressive the microdermabrasion was on your skin. You'll emerge from treatment a bit red, almost like a sunburn, which means post-procedure sunscreen is highly recommended. Applying makeup, though, is discouraged.
Are you a candidate?
Most likely, says Shamban. Those with "premature wrinkles, high levels of solar damage, or anyone who wants an even tone and fresher appearance to their skin," is an ideal candidate for the procedure, she says. However, Zeichner warns that if you have a history of blood diseases, including clotting or bleeding disorders, you should not seek PRP treatment.
As far as risks go, there aren't as many as you might think. In fact, Shamban explained that the only risk you really run is bruising at the time of the venipuncture. Aside from the discomfort of a blood draw and bruising from injection or microneedling, Zeichner says the vampire facial is "extremely safe, as it is your body's own blood being recycled."
How much does it cost?
Cost typically ranges, but in the dermatologist's office a treatment will set you back around $1,000, according to Zeichner, and the price will vary depending on your provider. He also notes that multiple treatments may be needed for optimal results and that treatments should be performed no more than once a month.
PRP/ VAMPIRE FACIAL
PRP therapy for the face is a treatment that involves withdrawing a patient's own blood, processing it so that only the enriched cells (platelet-rich plasma) remain, and infusing it into the facial tissue through Micro Needling. PRP contains essential proteins that stimulate new cell growth, helping to improve your complexion, skin texture and to restore lost facial volume.
Due to the natural variation in quality of platelet-rich plasma, results will vary between individuals. Some patients may require multiple sessions to obtain desired outcomes.
• You should not have PRP treatment done if you have any of the following conditions:
• An impaired immune system due to immunosuppressive diseases, HIV, HTV, or immunosuppressive medications
• Skin conditions and diseases including: Facial cancer, existing or uncured. This includes SCC, BCC and melanoma, systemic cancer, and chemotherapy.
• Steroid therapy, dermatological diseases affecting the face (i.e. Porphyria), communicable diseases, blood disorders and platelet abnormalities, anticoagulation therapy (i.e. Warfarin)
• A history of medication over the past 2 months that could affect the skin, i.e., Accutane
• Pacemakers, a history of a severe heart disorder, arrhythmias
• Pregnant or lactating
• Blood thinning medications or blood clotting disorders
• Any active skin disease or disorder around the treatment site; acne, eczema, psoriasis
• A history of keloids or abnormal wound healing
• Any surgical procedure in the treatment area within 3 months
Prior to Treatment, Inform Your Provider of the Following
• If you have a history of facial and/or nasal herpes or fever blisters to receive advice on antiviral therapy prior to treatment.
• If you have a history of any significant allergy or skin sensitivity
• If you have any implants that could be metal
• If you are taking broad beta-blockers such as Inderal (Propranolol), please inform your provider as this medication may need to be changed to a select beta-blocker in advance of the treatment.
• If you have recently had a facial peel or surgery
• Recent use of self-tanning lotions, tanning booths, or prolonged sun exposure 24 hours prior to treatment
• All current medications and supplements including blood thinning, Accutane and use of Retin-A products
• If you have had Hormone replacement therapy
• If you have a history of Keloid scarring
• If you are pregnant or lactating
7 DAYS BEFORE Treatment
• Avoid chemical peels, waxing, electrolysis, Laser treatments, or threading
• Discontinue blood thinning agents such as vitamin E, vitamin A, Ginko, Garlic, Flax, Cod Liver Oil, and Essential Fatty Acids, and multivitamins, a minimum of 7 days (preferably 14 days) prior to treatment. It is fine to continue iron and vitamin D.
• If you are taking any blood thinners, please let your provider know immediately, as they may represent a contraindication to this treatment. These medications include Plavix, Coumadin and Heparin.
• Avoid aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Iburprofen, Naproxen, Voltaren and other anti-inflammatory medications. We want inflammation to occur – as this is one mechanism by which PRP works.
• You may use Tylenol (acetaminophen) as needed prior to the treatment.
• Prescription medications (including heart and blood pressure medication) should be taken as prescribed right up to, and including, the day of and the day after your treatments.
• Avoid excessive sun or heat exposure.
3 DAYS BEFORE Treatment
• Avoid topical products such as Tretinoin (Retin-A), Retinols, Retinoids, Glycolic Acid, Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Salicylic Acid, or other “anti-aging”, “acne”, and “bleaching” products. Also AVOID waxing, bleaching, tweezing, or the use of hair removal cream on the area to be treated.
• Avoid excessive sun exposure and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily of SPF 30 or higher.
Day of Treatment
• Arrive to the clinic with a “clean face”. Do not wear makeup.
• No lotions, makeup or other topical products should be applied on the day of the procedure.
• If the area to be treated requires shaving due to hair involvement, please shave the area the evening prior to your visit, to avoid any trauma or rash from shaving.
• A topical anesthetic cream will be applied for about 45 minutes prior to your procedure.
Immediately Following Treatment:
• You may expect a certain degree of discomfort, redness, and/or irritation during and after treatment.
• You may have a bruise at the blood draw site.
• You will look as though you have a moderate to severe sunburn and your skin may feel warm and tighter than usual. This typically diminishes within the same day or within 24 hours.
• If you experience any pain or discomfort you may take Tylenol or other Acetaminophen-containing products as directed. Cold compresses can be applied to reduce swelling if necessary.
• Do not take any anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, Motrin or Advil. These agents will interfere with the natural inflammatory process that is critical and responsible for your skin rejuvenation.
• Light scabs may form in the treated area and remain for 24 to 48 hours.
• Do not pick or scratch treated skin but instead keep it moisturized.
• Avoid vigorous exercise, sun and heat exposure for at least 24 hours following your treatment.
• Make sure you only use clean linens and towels during the healing process.
• Avoid pets and small children having contact with treated skin for the first 12 - 24 hours.
• During the healing phase, be sure to disinfect your cell phone or landline phone with alcohol wipes before use. Try to avoid your treated skin’s contact with the phone by choosing a hands-free option.
• Avoid aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Iburprofen, Naproxen, Voltaren and other anti-inflammatory medications for 3 days after your procedure (if possible try for 7 days).
• Use a gentle cleanser and tepid water to cleanse the face for the following 72 hours.
• Use a gentle moisturizer as needed.
• Avoid excessive sun exposure, including tanning booths, and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily of SPF 30 or higher.
• Avoid warm environments (i.e., hot tubs, jacuzzis, steam rooms, hot yoga, saunas, etc.) for 3 days post treatment.
• By day two or three, your skin may feel a bit dry. This is normal and will resolve on its own.
• You may return to your skin care products and makeup when your skin is not irritated, typically 4 -5 days after treatment.
• You will begin to see improvements in the overall texture and tone shortly after your treatment, but the overall effects take up to 3 months, for optimal improvement.
• New collagen formation takes 4-6 weeks to develop; please be patient.
• It is recommended to have a minimum of 3 treatments, 4-6 weeks apart for maximum benefit.
Contact the Office Immediately if any of the Following Signs of Infection Occur:
Drainage – looks like pus
Increased warmth at or around the treated area
Fever of 101.5 or greater
Severe pain that is unresponsive to over-the-counter pain relievers
Kasey Landrus, RN
After Hours: 208-225-6679