Humankind has been doing seemingly crazy things in the name of skincare for hundreds of years, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to us that a a treatment known as 'the vampire facial' exists. But what does a vampire facial entail, how much does it cost and why are do we see face after bloody face all over our Instagram feed? We tell you everything you need to know about what goes on during a vampire facial treatment.
What is a vampire facial?
First of all, this treatment isn't carried out in Transylvanian crypts by Nosferatu or the cast of Twilight. It's done in the broad light of day in a dermatology clinic. It may not appear on the list of services as 'The Vampire Facial' though, because this procedure's professional name is PRP Skin Treatment. People sometimes get microneedling and the vampire facial confused - but more on that later.
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma, and the idea behind PRP treatment is that your own blood is used to promote collagen and growth factors. Platelets are tiny blood cells that play a crucial role in the clotting process. When you cut yourself and your blood begins to clot, these platelets release enzymes. These enzymes then attract stem cells to help heal the damaged area. The reason PRP treatment for the face got such a dramatic colloquial name is that, in mythology, vampires are described as looking eternally youthful. Additionally, corpses that failed to decompose during this era were suspected of being vampires at rest. Historians think that this early folk belief in vampires was due to a lack of understanding about the decomposition process of the human body. Today, people claim that receiving plasma treatment for the face can help you attain a youthful glow - just like vampire!
The PRP Facial process
This video was produced by the Australian clinic, Cosmos Clinic, and it shows part of what happens when you sign up for a plasma facial.
First, a few vials of your own blood are drawn and placed into a centrifuge. This centrifuge separates the red blood cells from the platelets and plasma, and the dermatologist is then left with just the latter which is pale and golden in colour.
A topical anaesthetic or numbing cream is applied all over your face. Then the facial proceeds one of two ways. Your plasma is then either put back into your body via series of injections to the face, or applied topically to your face like a serum. If your plasma is applied to your face like a serum, you'll then receive a microdermabrasion or microneedling treatment over the top. The very outer layer of your skin is repeated punctured with tiny needles using a Dermapen or derma roller to allow the PRP to sink into your pores. This is why you see celebrities like Kim Kardashian posting bloody-faced selfies - it's the microneedling aspect of the procedure that causes your face to become slightly inflamed or bloody.
If you opt for a PRP injection for your face, this is sometimes called a vampire facelift. This is when the PRP injection is combined with a product like Restylane or Juvederm to restore volume back into the face. This treatment is a lot less bloody because it is simply a series of strategically placed injections. The entire procedure can last up to an hour.
Vampire facial benefits
The goal of the treatment is to get your skin to produce more collagen, and the benefits of increased collagen production are thought to be numerous. People opt for PRP therapy for acne, to erase scars caused by acne, to correct sagging or wrinkled under eye skin, to improve the texture of skin affected by stretch marks or cellulite or just to achieve that youthful glow. When PRP is injected into the scalp, it can even work to prevent hair loss. The procedure can also encourage small hair follicles to become larger and grow stronger, so both men and women suffering from pattern hair loss can be ideal candidates. An international peer-reviewed study published in December 2018 found that PRP treatment "may have benefit for reducing the visible signs of photo-aging" - this is exciting stuff!
The vampire facial results themselves should be noticeable within a few weeks, although this will depend on whether you elect to have a PRP injection and which clinic you choose to attend.
Recovery and aftercare
People that have experienced the procedure say that it isn't painful as such because of the numbing cream, it's just slightly uncomfortable. If you've ever had a Brazilian, had your hair bleached or even your eyebrows threaded, you'll be more than familiar with the concept of 'not painful, just uncomfortable'. You can expect some swelling, and sometimes bruising, immediately after the treatment and the recovery time can be anything from a few hours to a few days. Compared to a procedure like a rhinoplasty, the downtime is virtually non-existent. Your clinic may recommend you use certain skin care products as part of a post-care regime. Dean Geyer would know all about this, here's him and his girlfriend celebrating Valentine's Day with a facial!
Possible side effects
PRP therapy is autologous - it comes directly from you! So the chances that your body will reject its own plasma are slim to none. However, there is an element of risk that comes with every cosmetic procedure. A spa in New Mexico may have exposed clients to blood-borne infections because they failed to sterilise the equipment to standard, so you should research your chosen clinic thoroughly before booking an appointment. The person performing your therapy should have received extensive training; more often than not, they'll be a doctor.
The cost of a vampire facial
The cost will vary depending on the results you want to achieve and where you are located, but Australian prices vary from around $600 per session (not including initial consult) up to $1500. Taking into account that you're asking someone to draw your blood, process it and inject it back into your body using equipment that's been sterilised to a medical standard - we would say that's a pretty fair price. The treatment is available in most capital cities.
For more details
For more details, here a list of well-reviewed clinics in Australia that provide PRP treatments and handle frequently asked questions.
Sydney - MD Cosmedical Solutions
Melbourne - The Victorian Cosmetic Institute
Brisbane - Cosmetic Image Clinics
Adelaide - Advanced Cosmetic Medicine
Canberra - Esteem Cosmetic Studio
Darwin - Advanced Body Image
Perth - Dr Anh Perth
Hobart - Sharkra Medispa
If needles don't make you feel weak at the knees, a vampire facial may be right up your alley! Remember to shop around and research before you commit to a procedure so that you get the results you deserve.