What is a Vampire Facial?

 Image source:  Instagram

Image source: Instagram

This week, in weird, yet oddly satisfying things in beauty, we give you: vampire facials. And no, it doesn’t require Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart coming at you with their fangs (though I’m sure some of us wouldn’t mind that). The facial, more formerly known as platelet-rich plasma, is a unique and controversial facial therapy that’s made both good and bad headlines in recent years. What’s even more interesting? The treatment isn’t just used for vanity purposes. You may be able to spot the offering in some form at your local dental or orthopedic clinic, due to its use as a form of healing therapy.

What exactly is it?

In ultra scientific terms, the Aesthetics Journal describes platelet-rich plasma (or PRP for short) as a “concentrated preparation of the patient’s own platelets from centrifugation of blood and extraction of the separated platelet-rich layer.” In layman’s terms, PRP is a nonsurgical procedure in which your blood is drawn, and then spun in a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the red and white blood cells. The concentrated plasma, which is rich in platelets (and thus growth factors) is then injected into your skin via microneedling.

What are the benefits?

You might be asking, why go through all the trouble? Well, the taboo service is touted for its ability to stimulate skin and aid cell turnover.

If you're seeking to treat premature wrinkles, high levels of solar damage, just looking for a more even skin tone, you could be a good candidate. Platelets are rich in growth factors, which essentially act as energy boots for our skin. This helps our skin to function optimally, increasing everything from collagen to elastin, while also boosting hydration. According to this study conducted by Chungnam National University Hospital, “Topical application of growth factors stimulates the rejuvenation of photoaged facial skin, improving its clinical appearance and inducing new collagen synthesis."

Smooth Synergy’s website also shares that the facial has the ability to treat “crow’s feet, dark circles under your eyes, acne scars and sun-damaged skin, fine lines around your mouth, and sallow, dry skin, giving your skin a natural, youthful glow.” Aka, sign me up.

On the upside, PRP facials are much less invasive than most cosmetic procedures, such as a surgical facelift. On the downside, PRP facials are still quite costly and, as I mentioned before, not completely painless

What is the pain level?

Though plenty of celebrities have publicly claimed their love for the treatment, there has also been some backlash in recent years. Take Kim K, for example, who later admitted she “regretted” getting the treatment, as she thought it was extremely painful.

While pain levels may vary, this service has a higher pain level than most other traditional aesthetic services. But after reading a multitude of stories around the web, yes, it’s not completely painless, but it won’t be the most terrible thing you’ve ever gone through.

What are some unwanted side effects?

Due to the nature of this treatment, patients can expect “tiny punctures, swelling, irritation or redness,” according to Smooth Synergy’s website, a New York City based dermatology practice that offers the service. Side effects normally are alleviated within 24-48 hours of the procedure.

How long does it take to see results?

According to Medscape, treatments take about “20 minutes, and offers improvements for up to 18 months.” While you'll see some results after one facial, dermatologist Joshua Ziechner says multiple treatments may be needed for optimal results and that treatments should be performed no more often than once per month.

While we’re constantly on the prowl for new and bizarre ways to rethink beauty, this is definitely one of the more interesting services on our radar. The potential results are certainly attractive (#goodbyedarkcircles), but it’s always best to have a consultation to find out if you’re the right candidate for any aesthetic service.