The Science Behind the Vampire Facial
The Vampire Facial is synonymous with Kim Kardashian. This reality TV icon shared her own procedure with millions of her fans on TV and posted shocking photos of her bloodied face on social media. The result? There was an 800% increase in these treatments in 2013 when the show aired and a whole host of celebrities have chimed in on the procedure’s ability to refresh the skin and ease wrinkles.
Although many aesthetic physicians still consider the Vampire Facial one of the best anti-aging treatments, many people are turned off by the appearance of the bloody, painful, multiple injections Kim Kardashian received 3 years ago with large bore needles.
Luckily, since it’s debut, the procedure is now much more refined. It is now often done through micro-needling, which is becoming a mainstream treatment in aesthetic medical practices. Micro-needling utilizes an electrical pen-like device where the tip has many fine needles that move in and out of the skin at high speed as the pen is glided across the skin. The production of hundreds to thousands of pin-sized holes through the skin is believed to improve the texture and tone of the skin, mild wrinkling and the appearance of acne and trauma scars. The holes seal up within hours and aside from some redness that is gone generally within one or two days, there are no lasting side effects. For those that are pain adverse, topical numbing cream makes the procedure even more tolerable.
How does micro-needling work?
Anytime you injure the skin, a cascade of events occurs to heal the injury. Signalling proteins and electrical cell signals are released that result in the production of new collagen and elastin fibres and enhanced blood circulation to the area. Additionally, micro injuries to small capillaries result in the release of platelets from the blood vessels. Platelets have hundreds of potent growth factors, which further stimulate new collagen production. These healing agents also enable rapid resealing of the micro-puncture wounds without scarring.
Where does the Vampire part come in?
Vampire facials involve injection of a portion of the patient’s own blood, called platelet rich plasma (PRP) back into the face. PRP is obtained by taking a small amount of the patient’s blood and spinning it down in a centrifuge to separate the red and white blood cells from the plasma and platelets. This portion of blood is super-concentrated in the amount of platelets compared to normal blood. Platelets are normally too large to go through intact skin and need to be injected, unless there are ports of injury in the skin, as is the case directly after micro-needling, In this case, PRP can be simply spread on top of the treated skin. It is rapidly absorbed through the micro channels and can get right to work. Vampire facials are much more effective in rejuvenating the skin than just micro needling because of the exponentially greater number of platelets and growth factors released into the skin.
A further refinement to Vampire Facials is micro-needling “guns” that can deliver PRP directly into the skin. The speed of the microinjections is rapid and along with the vibrational effect of the device, the treatment is well tolerated. Aside from deleting the step of spreading PRP onto the face, a major advantage of using these new devices is that they can reach deeper into the skin than micro needling devices can. In this way they can be more effective for deeper skin conditions such as acne scarring and hair loss.
When considering a Vampire Facial, or what I prefer to call a PRP Facial, it must be understood that this treatment does not replace the need for dermal fillers or neurotoxins like Botox, nor is it meant to improve the appearance of deeper wrinkles. It is a wonderful way, however, to obtain healthy glowing skin with minimal to no downtime, harnessing your body’s own regenerative power.