Is The Vampire Facelift For You?

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
From Twilight to True Blood, popular culture is still obsessed with vampires, so it should come as no surprise that this fascination has made its way into the skin-care world in the form of the Vampire Facelift. You may remember when Kim Kardashian opted to get the innovative procedure almost two years ago. 

As gruesome as it sounds, this nonsurgical rejuvenation is actually quite straightforward: Your own blood, in the form of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), is used to rejuvenate the appearance of facial tissue. 

Why are platelets so special? They contain a number of growth factors that can stimulate collagen synthesis, skin renewal, cell growth, and tissue regeneration. For the procedure, a small amount of blood is drawn (two to 10 teaspoons, depending on the areas being treated) and spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets and plasma from the other components of the blood. The PRP is then injected into those areas where you want to lift the skin and improve the appearance of wrinkles. This usually requires multiple injections using a small needle. For the needle-wary, this can be a tough sell. 
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As a cosmetic dermatologist, my specialty is nonsurgical rejuvenation — including the Vampire Facial. Not a day goes by without a patient asking me how they can bring back a more youthful appearance to their face. Whether it's wanting to erase those "11s" between the brows, lifting their fallen cheeks back up, or just improving the overall texture and tone of their skin, age-defying treatments are of huge interest to men and women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. In fact, I even have women in their 20s express concerns about aging and/or wrinkles. 

In the privacy of my office, when these worries arise, I pull out a handheld mirror and go over all the patient's concerns and problem areas. I then develop a plan. On the occasion that I do feel a surgical procedure is the best course of action, I recommend a consultation with a plastic surgeon.

But, honestly, most of my patients don't need to go under the knife for facelift surgery — which is good, because most of them don't want to. The surgical facelift is pretty serious, and invasive to boot. Because not everyone is ready to have their skin cut open to lift and reposition underlying structures such as fat and muscle, I feel confident recommending newer procedures, such as “injectable” treatments (neurotoxins, fillers, and PRP), along with laser treatments, which have been developed as alternative options. These don't involve cutting the skin, and most don't require you to be out of commission for a while in the same way a surgical facelift would. 
For the Vampire Facelift, hyaluronic-acid fillers and PRP are combined to roll back the appearance of wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin. As explained by Charles Runels, MD, who trademarked the procedure, the hyaluronic-acid filler acts as scaffolding on which the new PRP-induced tissue growth occurs. PRP can also be effective when used alone.

Additionally, it can work synergistically with other rejuvenation procedures you've probably heard of: Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, and microneedling. I like to combine PRP with laser treatments, specifically fractional resurfacing, as I find that this pairing leads to the best results depending on my patients' needs.

One great benefit of PRP is that it is a completely natural procedure, since it uses your own blood. No injecting of foreign materials required!

Although the treatment is not particularly bloody (the pictures of Kim K post-procedure were probably dramatized), there will probably still be some bleeding and pain during the procedure; you are, after all, having a needle injected into your facial tissue. As with any type of medical procedure, there are risks involved — although no significant side effects or long-term complications have been reported. Always speak to your doctor to get the full picture before you make any decisions. 
And, don't forget to inquire about the cost. Like nearly all cosmetic treatments, you'll be paying out of pocket. Treatments start at $1,000; it's up to you to decide if it's worth it.
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