The Vampire Facial: Fad or Fab?

By Dr. Coco

September 9, 2022

You have probably already heard of the “vampire facial” through Instagram, Kim  Kardashian, or a mix of both. The dermatological treatment uses an individual’s own  blood, which is put on the skin of the face using microneedling. The official name of the  treatment is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or PRP injection, as it uses the patient’s  own platelets from their own blood sample. PRP therapy has even been used in non cosmetic procedures. However, what seems like another silly trend may actually boast  some impressive results. 

You might be wondering what is platelet-rich plasma? Platelet-rich plasma is  made up of two elements. The first is plasma, one of the most important parts of  blood. Plasma is the liquid portion of blood, making up the largest part and carrying  blood components throughout the body, delivering nutrients, hormones, and proteins.  Then there is platelets, which is a type of blood cell that plays a large role in healing  throughout the entire body. They are known for their clotting abilities, but also hold  growth factors that can trigger our cells to reproduce as well as stimulate tissue  regeneration or healing in the selected area. Quite simply, platelet-rich plasma is blood  that has more platelets than expected.  

To form platelet-rich plasma, a clinician will extract a blood sample from the  patient’s arm and put it into a machine known as a centrifuge. A centrifuge works  through centrifugal force. Basically, it spins fluid rapidly at a high speed, and is used to  separate particles suspended in a liquid. In this case, it separates out particular  components of the blood from the platelets and concentrates them within the plasma.  When the platelets are isolated from the patient’s red blood cells, then the facial may  continue. 

In order to receive a vampire facial, more than platelet-rich plasma is needed.  The secondary component needed to complete this interesting facial includes  microneedling. Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that involves pricking the skin  with many tiny sterilized needles using a specific tool designed for the job. This device  is made out of stainless steel or a similar metal, and looks like a small lint roller with  many tiny needles sticking out of it.  

The goal of microneedling is to begin your body’s healing process by  dispatching collagen and elastin to heal the various and newly created minuscule  injuries that are now existent on the client’s face. In the case of a vampire facial, the  blood is first spread on the face and then microneedled in. There is also a numbing  cream spread upon the face so the patient doesn’t feel any of the small pin pricks. 

It is also worth noting that a vampire facial does not always include  microneedling. Sometimes the clinician will inject the platelets straight into the patient’s  skin, similar to how fillers are used. Again, it is used to stimulate collagen production  and rejuvenate the appearance of the skin. Marina Peredo, a board-certified  dermatologist and an associate clinical professor of dermatology from Mount Sinai 

Hospital in New York City, shared with Allure magazine that “when platelet-rich plasma  is reintroduced to skin on its own through a non-invasive procedure, cell turnover is  stimulated, and in turn, collagen and elastin production is ramped up for a plumper,  tighter, and smoother complexion.”  

A vampire facial, along with any procedure that involves microneedling is  performed by a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in skin care  and skin disorders. The procedure can also be done by a aesthetician, but a doctor is  the safest bet for the best results. Generally, the procedure will take only ten to twenty  minutes if done on the face, but it can also be done on other body parts. Although it is  said that most individuals require four to six treatments to see a notable difference.  

Healing may take days or even weeks. There might be pain, redness, minor  bruising, minor bleeding, or flaking of the skin during the healing period. People who  have had keloids before are not recommended to participate in any microneedling  procedure because it could cause more harm than good. This is also applicable for  anyone with a history of blood diseases or bleeding disorders. For most individuals,  however, it is perfectly safe. 

Now, as for the most important part of a vampire facial, and the reason why  anyone would want to schedule one: the benefits. Issues that the procedure may help  with include acne, hair loss, hyperpigmentation, large pores, reduced skin elasticity,  scars, stretch marks, sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles. It is cheaper than laser  treatments, and also works better on those with darker skin tones in comparison to  laser treatments.  

Those who would benefit the most from a PRP treatment are individuals with  high levels of sun damage, premature wrinkles, or uneven skin tone. Again, a PRP  injection is very low-risk, often not causing any kind of major side effects. Since they  are done using the patient’s own blood, the risk of an unwanted physical reaction is  quite low. However, after the procedure, dermatologists say that sunscreen is even  more important than usual, and makeup shouldn’t be worn until healing is complete. 

If you have any of the aforementioned aesthetic concerns, or you just want your  skin to feel “rejuvenated” then speak to your regular doctor, or dermatologist if you  have one already. Just keep in mind that since this is an cosmetic procedure, it is not  covered by insurance.