Do you look in the mirror and wish you could iron out some of those wrinkles? Well, thanks to a procedure called platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, anti-aging experts say you can.
Celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian have both had PRP to give their faces a smooth and youthful glow. What’s more, studies back up many of the age-reversing claims circulating among the Hollywood elite.
So, what is PRP? And even more important, why is it known by the eerie name, “vampire facial”? Here’s the story…
The name vampire facial likely comes from the fact that this procedure uses human blood. Yes, you read that right, blood. Fortunately, the blood is the patient’s own, taken by syringe.
Researchers create platelet rich plasma by taking a blood sample from the patient and then spinning it at high velocity in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the red and white blood cells. Then, they combine the platelets with the patient’s plasma – the liquid portion of blood.
While platelets are well known for their clotting attributes, these vital proteins also contain various growth factors that encourage the production of collagen, trigger cells to speed up tissue healing, and promote immunity. All good things for aging skin cells.
The question is, does it work?
Positive reports of healing
PRP is already used in medicine to treat a range of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions that otherwise would take a long time to heal.
But turning back the clock on our aging faces? A limited number of observational studies suggest that PRP is both effective and safe.
Researchers report PRP therapy improves the skin’s thickness and elasticity with less wrinkling. Patients have also been satisfied with the outcomes as they could see the improvements for themselves in a short amount of time.
But the only true medical test of effectiveness is a blind clinical trial in which participants are randomly assigned to receive either PRP or a placebo, saline solution.
Since this kind of a study had never been carried out, researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, got busy. For their trial 19 men and women aged between 18 and 70 were given one PRP injection on one cheek and one injection containing saline on the other cheek without knowing which was which.
Interestingly, the dermatologists came to one conclusion regarding PRP’s effectiveness while the participants came to another conclusion.
Improved texture, pigment, and wrinkles
According to experts who rated the procedure from photographs taken at different intervals over 12 months, PRP offered no significant improvement compared to saline.
However, the participants themselves didn’t agree. They reported significant improvements in pigmentation, texture, wrinkles, and spider veins on the side of their faces that received the genuine treatment. The researchers think improvements may be too subtle for dermatologists to detect from photographs alone, concluding that “PRP may have benefit for reducing the visible signs of photoaging.”
A similar trial was conducted the following year to test the validity of PRP in the form of a topical serum. Neither the 20 male and female volunteers nor the investigator noticed any differences considered significant between the PRP topical serum and the placebo serum, but this wasn’t necessarily surprising as it was only an eight-week study.
Yet, as the researchers noted, the PRP serum “did demonstrate directional improvement of radiance, luminosity, smoothness at four weeks, increasing at eight weeks vs the serum alone.”
So, is a vampire facial worth considering?
For those who want to look younger, PRP seems to improve the appearance of aging skin. However, all the studies involve small numbers of people, so by medical standards it’s considered an unproven therapy.
There are also some downsides to be aware of.
Since PRP is derived from the patient’s own blood there’s no risk of allergic reactions but there is a small risk of bleeding, swelling, bruising or infection at the injection site.
Patience is also required as it may take some weeks or several months to see any improvement.
Finally, PRP for cosmetic use is not covered by medical insurance and, as you can imagine, it’s not cheap. The cost can range from $250 to $1,500 per treatment depending on location, facilities, and the doctor’s expertise. If you’re still interested in trying PRP you should know that the best results are obtained with three or more treatments followed by regular maintenance treatments.
The Aging Defeated Team
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6583756/ Effect of Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection for Rejuvenation of Photoaged Facial Skin
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6852537/ Pilot study: Autologous platelet‐rich plasma used in a topical cream for facial rejuvenation
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8675348/ Platelet-Rich Plasma: A Comprehensive Review of Emerging Applications in Medical and Aesthetic Dermatology
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36728559/ Systematic review: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) use in facial rejuvenation