In DuJour’s weekly Body Language column, our editors focus in on a singular body part. This week, it’s all about blood.
It was the Instagram heard ’round the world. A graphic photo not of Kim Kardashian’s most famous asset, but instead a shot of her face… covered in blood. Further inspection showed that the prolific Kardashian wasn’t the victim of a bloody crime, but something of an even more sinister-sounding nature – the Vampire Facial.
It’s a beauty treatment that entered the mainstream cosmetic vernacular last March, when an episode of ‘Kim and Kourtney Take Miami’ documented Kim getting a facial that utilized her own blood, which is said to rejuvenate the skin while removing fine lines and acne scars.
We were skeptical, at first. After all, the Kardashian’s have been known to perform stunts for television ratings in the past –a $51 million dollar wedding, anyone? – but now that Victoria’s Secret model Bar Refaeli shared a picture of herself getting the same treatment, we’re listening.
What gives with the vampire facial?
“People generally remember the phrase ‘vampire facial’ because it’s a trademarked term used all the time,” explains Dr. Todd Schlifstein of Fountain Med Spa at their brand new location in New York. “But what it’s actually referring to is a PRP facial, or platelet-rich plasma facial.”
According to Schlifstein, who has been performing the procedure for five years, healing platelets found within the blood can actually give the same benefits as a facelift when used correctly—without the surgery and necessary recovery time. In short: “There are tremendous benefits in using the body to heal itself. We can rejuvenate skin by injecting your own platelets directly into your face.”
The platelet-rich mixture used in the PRP facial is obtained by spinning a sample of the patients’ blood in a centrifuge for about 15 minutes, which separates the plasma from the red blood cells. The doctor then extracts healing platelets from the base of the plasma gel and inserts them into target areas such as the cheeks, eyes, or neck, usually after numbing the area to avoid discomfort. The entire process takes about 45 minutes to an hour and costs around $1,500.
PRP works because the increased platelets in skin stimulate collagen production and promote tissue recovery, smoothing the skin and removing fine lines and wrinkles. There is virtually no risk of adverse reaction since the plasma is extracted from the patient’s own body, and the procedure can be done multiple times if desired.
In fact, PRP treatment has benefits beyond the cosmetic world—the collagen-producing platelets can be injected to heal ailments ranging from nerve injuries to bone repair and regeneration. It’s even become a hit among athletes like Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant, and Hines Ward, whose Super Bowl win two weeks after a knee sprain was likely made possible thanks to the treatment.
“There’s no way Tiger Woods would have been golfing three weeks after his knee injury without the use of PRP,” Schlifstein says of the golfer’s speedy recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery in 2009.
“People generally begin to see and feel the effects of the PRP facial within about 2 days, and the plasma actually continues filling out the skin for the next two months,” says Schlifstein. “The results can last a year, or even longer in some cases.”
“We have definitely seen an increase in the number of patients looking for PRP over the past few years,” continues Schliftstein, who adds that some of his patients come from Europe each year for the treatment. “I always make sure to first discuss reasonable expectations with the patients. They know they won’t walk out of here looking like Kim Kardashian, but they will have brighter skin and a fuller face.”