But it’s much more than just an odd-sounding skin care trend. If the name alone puts you off, we promise it's not as scary as it sounds. The truth behind the facial is that it can produce amazing results, especially in the anti-aging category, and it’s all due to a part of the body you probably haven’t given much thought to.
First, let’s address the nickname — does the so-called “vampire” facial involve blood? The answer is yes, but not in the way you’d think.
The vampire facial’s primary component comes from blood; that part is true. But instead of slathering your face with someone else’s blood, the secret ingredient in this facial is you! More specifically, your platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is one of several parts that make up the blood. Those selfies you’ve seen of someone “covered in blood” are likely due to the sensitivity and post-treatment bleeding some people experience, so don’t worry if you’re feeling squeamish!
If that sounds “out there,” we understand! However, using platelet-rich plasma to treat the skin isn’t new, and plenty of research supports its benefits. And PRP isn’t just for dermatology — the same component is used by other fields of medicine as well. Cardiologists, orthopedic doctors and physical therapists, among others, are also harnessing PRP’s power to help change lives.
But what exactly does it do?
The key is in the platelets. Typically, the primary job of platelets is to help clot the blood and stop bleeding. With platelet-rich plasma, we’re unlocking another crucial feature of platelets: their ability to heal. Inside each platelet are pockets of alpha granules. These alpha granules pump out more than 20 types of growth factors.
Each different growth factor targets a specific type of tissue. When sent to those tissues, they help push the cell cycle forward, acting like a rejuvenating guardian angel. When we use PRP for cosmetic purposes, we aim to target the growth factors that trigger the skin cells responsible for skin elasticity, texture and volume.
Essentially, we’re tricking the body into making new collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for helping the skin look and feel plumper, smoother and tighter. That fountain of youth potential is why we refer to PRP as “liquid gold.”
While you can use the power of PRP for a wide variety of skin care concerns, it’s especially beneficial for issues like acne scars and stretch marks, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (dark spots), chronic sun damage and other age-related skin changes. PRP can even be used to help with hair loss!
The question on everyone’s mind is how we get the PRP out of your blood and onto your skin. Because the four main components that make up the blood — plasma, platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells — are all mixed together in your bloodstream, the process starts when we draw your blood.
If this makes you nervous, you’re not alone! No one loves having their blood drawn, but our providers are trained to make it as quick and painless as possible. We don’t need a lot, either, so it won’t take long.
After we’ve drawn your blood, the tube is placed in a machine called a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood at a high rate of speed, which effectively separates the components from each other — the plasma on the top, platelets and white blood cells in the middle and the red blood cells on the bottom. The middle layer, or “serum,” is what we want, so it’s drawn out for the next step in your treatment!
There are two main ways we use PRP in the cosmetic treatments we offer at Skin Pharm, so let’s look at both a little closer.
The first way we can use PRP to help improve your skin is on its own.
We start by applying a topical numbing cream to the skin we’re about to treat, which helps to minimize any potential discomfort. Once the numbing cream has had time to kick in, we inject the PRP directly under your skin (don’t worry — we use very tiny needles). These injections get the PRP into the specific areas that need a boost of rejuvenation so that they can get to work as quickly as possible to “heal” your skin.
The other option we can use to get PRP where it needs to go is microneedling. If you’re not yet familiar with this game-changing cosmetic treatment, it’s one of the most inclusive we offer.
Microneedling also starts with a topical number cream for your comfort. After that, we apply your PRP, then use a specialized tool to make small, controlled punctures. The reason for these punctures is twofold — the body perceives them as an “injury” and floods the area with increased collagen to heal it; plus, it allows us to get the PRP even further into your skin. The entire cosmetic treatment is reasonably short, and most people only experience minor discomfort (thanks to the topical numbing agent).
If you’re willing to go through the process of having your blood drawn and then applied to your face, you’re looking for results. So let’s talk about it — how long will it take to see a change in your appearance?
While the time it takes may vary, the benefits of a vampire facial are usually visible about a week after treatment. But that’s not the best part! As the PRP continues to work under your skin and increase collagen production, your results will likely continue to improve over time. Keep in mind that some more extensive skin concerns, like melasma or deeper lines and wrinkles, may require more than one round of PRP before looking noticeably better.
Because PRP harnesses a component of your own blood, there are very few side effects associated with treatment. However, because the process involves needles and puncture wounds, some clients experience redness, sensitivity or tenderness in the areas we’re actively treating. There is also the possibility of bruising, bleeding or swelling, especially if you have sensitive skin. The good news is that most of these minor side effects go away on their own within a day or two.
We recommend planning on a few days of downtime if you’re looking to schedule your PRP treatment around an important event, like a wedding or a birthday party. That way, you won’t have to worry about residual redness or bruising ruining your photo ops. Plus, we recommend not wearing makeup for at least 24 hours after treatment.
Once you’ve noticed an improvement in your skin, you’ll want to keep it that way!
Well, we’ve got excellent news for you. The results from PRP treatments are usually permanent, as long as you continue to take care of your skin and live a healthy lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean you can slack and take your new skin for granted. Any cosmetic treatment must be followed up with a quality, supportive skin care routine. At the very least, focus on finding a cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen that works for you. Keeping your skin’s moisture barrier intact and minimizing the potential for long-term sun damage is crucial in staying as youthful-looking as possible.
Although the vampire facial is a minimally-invasive cosmetic treatment, it is still essential that you follow your provider’s aftercare recommendations closely. These recommendations were designed to support the skin as it goes through the healing process while also keeping you safe and minimizing side effects.
Typically, we’ll provide you with a 1-3 days post-treatment skin care kit. This kit comes with a foaming cleanser that you’ll use morning and evening, followed by our Recovery Lotion to keep your skin hydrated. These products will help your skin support itself as it heals, but you can discontinue them as soon as your skin stops feeling tight or dry. Once your skin has healed, you can go back to using your normal skin care products like exfoliants.
Keep in mind that this kit is not meant for long-term use, especially if you deal with oily skin or frequent breakouts.
The vampire facial is an incredible way to harness the power of your own body to help change your skin for the better. If you’ve been struggling with age-related concerns or are just looking for a way to rejuvenate your skin, look no further than PRP. Whether on its own or combined with another cosmetic treatment like microneedling, PRP can help heal your skin from the inside out. We’ll be there for you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to reach out.