The vampire facial, also known as microneedling with PRP (read on for the full definition), is the latest trend in skin rejuvenation. The cosmetic procedure—which includes drawing blood from your arm, separating platelets and injecting them into your face—became popular when Kim Kardashian had it performed on an episode of Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.
If you’re like us, you might be wondering how it works, what the benefits are and if this procedure is something you should incorporate into your routine. To get some answers, we spoke with Kaylyn Plum, a physician’s assistant and Director of Noninvasive Aesthetics at Gotham Plastic Surgery.
The vampire facial is done through microneedling. Professionals use a microneedling device “to safely and precisely create controlled micro-injuries to the skin,” says Plum. Then platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is injected into the skin to “trigger new collagen and elastin production, break up existing scar tissue and make the skin look and feel smoother, brighter, tighter and more youthful,” explains Plum.
Performed using brand-name tools such as Dermapen and MicroPen, microneedling (without the PRP) is a minimally invasive treatment that involves puncturing the skin with fine needles to promote collagen production. Microneedling is not just exclusive to the face. The procedure can be performed on “all areas of the face, neck, décolletage and hands,” explains Plum.
In short, both facial treatments improve the skin’s texture and help to reduce unwanted wrinkles. Healing time is the major difference between the two treatments. With traditional microneedling, you can expect “five to seven days of redness or downtime,” says Plum.
Microneedling with PRP, or the vampire facial, decreases downtime to 24 hours. How? By using platelet-rich plasma, “You are essentially healing the micro-injuries to the skin as they are inflicted,” explains Plum. “The rich growth factors and healing properties within the PRP stimulates greater collagen formation and boosts the skin’s natural healing process.” She emphasizes that microneedling with PRP is superior to traditional microneedling because you can achieve better results with fewer treatments.
“People have been utilizing microneedling treatments for many years,” says Plum. However, professionals have “recently discovered the greater benefits of combining microneedling with PRP.”
“This treatment is primarily used to address skin texture and stimulate collagen formation,” explains Plum, “which is important because we stop producing our natural collagen after the age of 25.” She adds that the vampire facial is also a great remedy for “acne or surgical scars because it breaks up scar tissue bands and stimulates deeper healing.”
“The procedure is safe for all skin types,” says Plum, but “I would not recommend it to someone who has difficulties getting their blood drawn.” The perfect candidate would be someone “looking to improve the overall appearance of his or her skin and address deeper collagen formation.”
Before the vampire facial, photographs are taken to ensure there’s accurate documentation of results and progress. Then “the patient is numbed for 30–45 minutes with a cream that goes on the skin,” explains Plum. “When the patient is numbing, we obtain about 11mL of blood, which is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the PRP from the red blood cells.” Once the skin has been prepared appropriately, the microneedling begins.
The entire procedure takes roughly an hour and a half. “You don’t wash the PRP off your face until the next morning,” explains Plum, as this “allows the PRP to continue to heal the skin.” You’ll notice a healthy glow after the first few days, but “complete results take about 4-6 weeks once full collagen remodeling has taken place,” Plum says.
After rinsing off the PRP 12–24 hours following the procedure, Plum advises patients to use a gentle cleanser and follow up with a broad-spectrum SPF moisturizer to protect the skin. She recommends “using a hyaluronic serum to maintain skin hydration during the following two to five days after treatment,” and notes that patients can resume their normal skin care routine one week following the procedure.