Some dermatologists I talked with did offer plasma injections, but not exactly in the way Kardashian got hers. Anthony Sclafani, a facial plastic surgeon at the New York Ear and Eye Infirmary, performs single-needle injections for wrinkles and acne scars. Sclafani also authored one of the only actual studies about platelet-rich plasma for wrinkles, a small study of 15 people published last year. The study was supported by Aesthetic Factors, the Pennsylvania-based company that makes the technology for separating plasma from the blood in the doctor's office, a procedure that previously had to be done in labs.
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"[It's] a broad term that was originally coined by a provider in Southern California—it doesn’t really describe a specific treatment," Wilbur Hah from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery told Newsweek. "Generally speaking, the term “vampire facial” is used to describe platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, with most physicians performing a microneedling treatment with PRP to both trigger the body’s natural healing response and provide the skin with regenerative growth factors."
The basic PRP treatment has been used for almost 20 years to accelerate the healing of wounds and burnt skin, and help athletes - including, reportedly, tennis ace Rafael Nadal - recover from injury. But it was when Dr Charles Runels from Alabama trademarked the name "Vampire Facelift" in 2010, during the craze for the Vampire Diaries and Twilight Saga, that the procedure became attractive for A-listers.
The vampire facial involves injecting part of the patient’s own blood directly into the face. Key to the treatment is platelet-rich plasma (PRP), the yellow-colored portion of blood that remains after red and white blood cells and other components have been removed. PRP helps blood clot and contains proteins that support cell growth. By stimulating collagen production, PRP helps rejuvenate aging skin by giving it more elasticity.
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.