When it comes to weird and outrageous skin care, I’m the first to sign up. Not only is testing new products and treatments part of my job as a beauty editor, I truly enjoy it. Skin care is my jam! So, when vampire facials became popular (thanks to Kim Kardashian West), I was immediately intrigued. First of all, I love a spa treatment, but a kind of facial that sounds like something Elvira would get? I would come running as fast as I could. I am a goth at heart, after all. So, when the cosmetic procedure website RealSelf invited me to try a vampire facial, I was more than down to do it. But, it wasn’t until later I realized what a vampire facial would actually entail. My actual blood being procured from my body and going back into my face?! What in the name of Sarah Michelle Gellar did I get myself into?
Earlier this week, the New Mexico Department of Health announced the closure of a spa in Albuquerque after one of their clients reportedly developed an “unspecified infection” sometime after getting a “vampire facial.” During an inspection of the facility on Friday morning, health department officials became concerned about the way the spa was managing the storage, handling and disposal of needles.
The fun part was scaring my friends with my photos. The not-so-fun part was that I couldn’t wear makeup, which was tough, especially because my skin was still beet red for two days after the procedure. I just wanted to dip my entire head in concealer. I had to stay out of the sun, so when I went on a picnic with my BFF, I made sure to keep my face covered with two parasols. So goth!
The day leading up to my appointment, my best friend continually cringed at the idea of my soon-to-be bloody face while my mom made sure to text me every five minutes asking if this is really something I wanted to go through with, having sensitive skin and all. While their concerns pushed me to the point of advising my editor that I may need to work from home the next day if I look busted AF (since bruising and redness are possible short-term results), I stuck to my appointment and headed to the Upper East Side to arrive early for a treatment that, at the very best, could change the way I view my complexion, and, at the very worst, put me out of commission for a couple of days.
The same process is used in the Vampire Facial. The patient’s own blood is drawn, treated, and then the platelet-rich plasma is injected into the patient’s face. Injections are made into strategic areas to encourage skin healing and renewal through new collagen production and fresh skin cells full of human growth factors. This increase in collagen and growth factors creates a more youthful, plumper, and firmer appearing skin.
So my face was in a lot of discomfort to say the least and it was difficult to sleep the first night. There was minimal swelling when I left, but it seems with every hour my face is less and less recognizable! I called earlier in the day with concerns and I was told it was normal, I am starting not to believe so now. My eyes are almost swollen shut. I believe I am just having a bad reaction.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the business, VIP Spa, was practicing the treatment in a way that “could potentially spread blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C to clients.” It’s just one example of a trendy skin care service that spreads to salons around the world faster than health leaders can regulate them.
Professional athletes from almost every sport have shown us the regenerative and healing power of PRP treatments by using them to return to the game sooner from damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. During PRP treatments, the platelets in the blood that contain growth factors that command the immune system are isolated from the blood and injected back into the effected area. Many people have used PRP treatments as an effective way to avoid risky medication side effects and surgery. The treatment offers a quicker recovery and supports the body’s natural healing process organically without an invasive procedure. The power of platelets are no longer restricted to internal treatments however, vampire facials take the science of platelet treatments and uses it to improve your skin.
The vampire facial was only supposed to sound scary. Sure, it involves extracting the patient's own blood, isolating the platelet-rich plasma by spinning it in a centrifuge and then re-injecting it into the face. But the results are touted to be rejuvenated, smooth and supple skin, not an HIV or hepatitis scare, as clients of the VIP Spa in Albuquerque, N.M., are now facing.
Most of the people who have opted to try a vampire facial treatment rave about the results. The procedure usually starts by applying a mild numbing agent to the face, and a simple blood draw from your arm. Much like the PRP process for internal joint and muscle injuries, for the vampire facial, your blood is placed in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets in the blood for extraction. While your platelets are being concentrated, your specialist will perform a process called micro-needling on your face. The process involves using a tool to make tiny pricks on your skin to open access for the PRP treatment. When the platelets are ready, they are applied to the face, and the growth factors are called to the site of each skin prick to repair the location with new collagen. The result is a more youthful looking appearance, minimized pores, even tone and complexion and increased elasticity.
In general, you’ll want to increase your water consumption for a day or two prior to the appointment. This helps increase the volume of blood in your body, making the PRP process much easier. You’ll also want to avoid blood thinners, if at all possible, for up to two weeks prior to appointment. These include over-the-counter pain medications and vitamins. Do not stop prescription medication blood thinners without first consulting with the doctor who prescribed them to you.
The incisions are generally made in front of your ears, along the temple and continues around and behind the ear. This is to minimize noticeable scaring. After the operation is completed, small tubes will be inserted beneath the skin to drain away fluid that might otherwise accumulate. There is generally very little discomfort after the facelift surgery.
A Stem Cell Facelift with Fat Transfer combines PRP with Nanofat and Fat Transfer. For those with thin, sagging skin and loss of fat volume, this offers the longest-lasting and most natural results possible. Nanofat is a process of harvesting the stem cells in your fat. In this procedure, we combine those stem cells with the growth and healing factors of PRP for skin texture, tone, and elasticity. We also use your own fat, taken from your midsection, to replace what your face has lost with age (or weight loss). This procedure creates brand new cells, for results that are all you. It is more expensive than a Vampire Facelift and does have about 3-7 days of downtime.
A Vampire Facelift and Vampire Facial are similar in that they are both non-invasive aesthetic treatments only offered by practitioners who have undergone extensive proprietary training, certification, and follow-up education. Patients can feel confident that the process will be as comfortable as possible and give results that exceed expectations. In addition, both procedures utilize PRP in a way that encourages the skin to heal itself and look its best for a significant time after the procedure. Results will continuously improve for a few weeks after the process and usually last for at least 12 months, and often times longer.
Once the treatment was complete my face was covered in Aquaphor to protect it from the dirt and grime that is NYC and I made my way back onto the subway where I received many sideways glances. It’s a rare thing on a packed train during rush hour to have some personal space, for some reason people didn’t want to sit next to the girl whose blood-speckled face was covered in goo.
Aside from the novelty of having a Dracula-inspired skin treatment done, the benefits of the PRP facial appealed to me. The PRP injections can help stimulate collagen. Combined with microneedling, the treatment can result in scar reduction, correction of sun damage, and minimizing fine lines and pores. And because the PRP is coming out of your own bod, there are no risk of side effects! However, patients who have blood disorders or take blood thinners should skip this type of procedure.