Why you should care:
We read a recent news item regarding possible exposure of many clients of a spa in New Mexico, to HIV and Hepatitis virus infection, as a result of unsafe practices for conducting this cosmetic procedure. (CNN, VOX). This procedure is being done at many cosmetic and medical dermatology clinics around the world, with variable standards of quality, making it a potential public health issue of importance.
Formally known as micro needling with platelet rich plasma (PRP), the name was coined by Dr. Charles Runels from Alabama, who trademarked the name “Vampire Facelift” in 2010 It is also known as a Vampire PRP facelift, though the technicalities may vary. Kim Kardashian made it famous through her social media, although her later feedback was not encouraging.
The patient’s own blood is drawn from their veins, centrifuged, treated, and then the platelet-rich plasma is injected into the patient’s face in specific, strategic areas, as this is supposed to encourage skin healing and renewal through new collagen production and fresh skin cells full of human growth factors (Advanced Dermatology)
The maximum procedures seem to be done in so-called medispas, a booming $11 Billion industry. However, in order to cut costs and maximize profits, some of them may have untrained people doing procedures without proper supervision in unsafe settings, as per the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. (Prevention)
As per online media reports, it takes about 30 minutes to fully numb the area with local anesthetic creams or other methods and this preps you for micro-needling with multiple needles. Healing time is the major stated advantage, since with traditional micro needling involved five to seven days of redness or downtime, while micro needling with PRP, or the vampire facial, decreases downtime to almost 24 hours. Since skin renewal and rejuvenation is using the body’s own active regeneration components, facial skin renewal is continual for about 3 months after the procedure. The overall effects of the Vampire Facelift® can last for over a year in some cases. (Prasad Cosmetic Surgery)
How much does it cost:
Online search suggests rates from $1,000/- to £600 per session and a three session treatment could work out to about £2000. It’s not a one-time expense – the results usually appear to fade after three months or so you’d need to invest at least twice a year. (Rolling stone, Allure)
There are many mixed reviews available online and while some swear by the benefit of the procedure, there are enough stories about things going wrong or the latest case of possible transmission of serious infections at unregulated, poor quality setups. (Kim Kardashian, Allure, Telegraph, Dailymail, Metro)
Our rapid check of the available recent evidence of various medical studies and reviews, threw up the following main points of interest. PRP seems to be a promising technique but the level of evidence is still not too strong and some authors have given a call to carry out well designed, larger population based trials, so as to strengthen its use in cosmetic skin practice. (Indian Journal of Dermatology). Also, as per a very recent study, a combination approach using dermaroller and PRP was a safe and better option than using dermaroller alone, for some type of acne scars, for cosmetic improvement as well as for improvement in the skin life quality of the patients. (Indian Journal of Dermatology, September 2018). Active growth factors from the platelets are supposed to be the agents that promote better treatment and skin rejuvenation. Since different methods of processing the patients’ blood will result in different types of plasma, with different properties and outcomes, it is also suggested that more powerful studies are necessary to better understand the subtle nuances of these preparations and their ideal use. (Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, 2018). The relatively low rate of complications and convenience of treatment provides a positive outlook for future use and research (Journal of Cosmetology & Dermatology, 2018).
PRP is a relatively new treatment modality with detailed medical literature reviews suggesting its utility in aesthetic dermatology. The combination of PRP with other therapies is quite interesting but we should await the results of further larger studies and those including controls, to better understand the variations in different patients (Journal of Cosmetology & Dermatology)
Bottom Line: Look before you leap, get all the facts related to the procedure from reliable sources and ask your qualified medical doctor before going ahead.