Going in for a vampire facial, only to see a few drops of blood on the apples of my cheeks, the area surrounding my nostrils, and where the Dermapen abruptly burst a particularly stubborn period pimple on my chin, was disappointing. Not that I’m a super-gory human, but I love me some My Favorite Murder and the idea of going under the pen to come out equally as bloody (and beautiful) as her royal Kim-ness.
“Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is widely used in regenerative medicine because of its high concentrations of various growth factors and platelets,” says this research study from Japan. Platelets contain more than 30 different growth factors, and according to VampireFacial.com, the official site of Vampire Facials, “These growth factors activate multipotent stem cells already in the skin (tricking them into thinking there’s been an injury and new, younger tissue should [be] generated).”
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 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.
A "blood facial" or "vampire facial" is a cosmetic procedure during which a doctor draws a couple vials of blood from your arm, centrifuges the blood to separate out the plasma and platelets from the red blood cells, and then adds the platelet-rich plasma back into your face. For extra absorption, the doctor pokes your face all over with a bunch of micro-needles before applying the plasma. Reminds me a little bit of making a Jell-O poke cake.
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.