A new patient recently came in asking about the “Vampire Facelift” after one of her friends had it done in California. Kim Kardashian brought the “Vampire Facelift” to light with “bloody” pictures on her Instagram account. The “facelift” consisted of microdermabrasion of the skin and the application of PRP onto this traumatized facial skin. PRP is “Platelet Rich Plasma” and is harvested from the patient’s own blood. The platelet rich plasma is then placed on the skin to be taken up by the skin cells. Platelets are a unique component of blood as it contains growth factors that are required for healing in the human body. I used it 25 years ago to close chronic non-healing wounds. The theory is the PRP will be absorbed by the skin and rejuvenate the skin cells lending a youthful appearance to aged skin. Now the technique employs micro-needling to place the PRP deeper into the old skin cells.
But does it work? PRP is used in other areas of medicine and most commonly injected into osteoarthritic painful joints. Despite glowing testimonials, most scientific studies reveal minimal objective data to support its use. I’ve had many patients give their subjective testimonials in my office swearing they feel better after having PRP injected into an old arthritic joint. Most orthopedic surgeons say that PRP injection is no better than hyaluronic acid (Synvisc) injections and may even be just the placebo effect.
Does PRP treatments change the skin on the face making it look younger? Unfortunately it is hard to tell a patient who just spent about $1200 for each of three micro-needling PRP treatments that there is no improvement in the appearance of their skin. The treatment boasts that it tightens and lifts the skin, corrects wrinkles, and controls abnormal pigment. But a recent study out of Northwestern University in Chicago revealed that there was no objective difference that could be appreciated by physicians evaluating pre vs. post PRP procedure photographs. There was no visible difference in skin tightness, skin tone, or pigmentation after the PRP treatments. The study patients themselves felt that the texture of their skin was better after spending almost $4000. So similar to PRP injections in joints, the subjective results reported far out-pace the objective results.
You may get this improved skin texture with only micro-needling. On the “Vampire Facelift” website, the full four stage treatment includes injectable fillers, micro-needling, PRP application, and skin care treatments. Three of those treatment stages may improve skin texture…the application of PRP probably does not.