Dr. Peredo explained that a vampire facial, also known as a blood facial or PRP facial, involves extracting blood from a patient’s arm and using a centrifuge to separate the platelets and plasma from the red blood cells. From there, Dermapen, microneedling, infuses skin with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) that stimulates collagen and elastin fibers to promote cell turnover for your most brilliant complexion through a series of thousands of tiny pinpricks. Okay, so no wonder Kim looked terribly in pain. But anything in the name of beauty, right?
This procedure has garnered a lot of media attention because of its popularity with movie stars and celebrities and its sensational nickname. Patients come to the Advanced Dermatology clinic having heard about this treatment in the media. They are intrigued by its touted ability to refresh skin and erase wrinkles. They also arrive with many questions, muddled facts and misinformation they heard ‘somewhere’ or from ‘someone’.
"The jury is still out on how effective this procedure is, but many feel that it can significantly help improve skin tone, texture, and fine lines," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City–based board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Basically, the idea is that it can make your skin look plump and glowy (and younger).
This treatment is more than just celebrity endorsed nonsense and a media sensation, it actually works! I must say, the first time I heard about it was when Kim Kardashian had her vampire facial. I thought it was not even real and didn’t take much notice of it but after the media hype, I thought I would give it a go. It has been almost a year now and I am now seeing the full results and I can say it really works. The dark circles under my eyes have gone, the two sun spots I had have almost disappeared and the texture of my skin is looking much better.
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.
Chang begins the 90-minute procedure with a deep cleansing of the face and the application of numbing cream. During the numbing process, Chang draws blood from the patient’s arm and then places two vials of blood in a centrifuge for 10 minutes to isolate the PRP. Chang then removes the numbing cream from the patient’s face, applies some PRP to the face and then injects the plasma into the skin with a microneedling machine.
"Maybe there's still some blood in it," suggests Sclafani, who's done extensive research on the competing $1,500 Selphyl system. He also injects platelet-rich plasma for facial rejuvenation, but without mixing in the added fillers. It's a simple injection, much like getting Botox or Restalyne. "No needle is fun, but most people are able to do this without any anesthesia," he says. "They shouldn't scream in pain like that."
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The New Mexico Department of Health has since shut down the spa and is urging any of its clients who received a vampire facial or other injection-based treatments in May or June of this year to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C for free at the Midtown Public Health Office. The statement does not mention which of these infections the client contracted, nor which specific treatment the individual had received.
There's no evidence at all that this gory procedure works, and only the babiest starting evidence that injecting platelets into the skin works at all against the appearance of aging. But there probably is little harm, at least, to plasma injections because they deal with the patient's own body fluids, dermatologists say. The technologies dermatologists use for the facials are U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for adding plasma to bone before orthopedic surgery... but not for wrinkle-busting.