Vampire facial a popular alternative to facelift surgery

By: Colin Kennedy

Made famous by the bloody face of Kim Kardashian, the vampire facial is increasingly presenting itself as the smart money cosmetic alternative to more invasive procedures like the traditional surgical facelift.

Also called the Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) process, the vampire facial is a cosmetic treatment used to tighten and rejuvenate the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance, as well as assisting in reducing scarring from acne, stretch marks and brown blotching on the skin.

A teaspoon or two of your blood is drawn from your arm and spun in a centrifuge to separate the plasma (the liquid part), from the white and red blood cells. The plasma is applied to your face with a dermal pen and for some, depending on the extent of the skin’s damage, also injected into parts of the face.

New Zealand’s presenter of the TV series Is Modern Medicine Killing You? and practicing medical doctor for more than 27 years, Dr Frances Pitsilis, says the platelet rich plasma treatment has been used in healing for more than 50 years in dentistry, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, wound healing and more recently in skin rejuvenation and anti-ageing therapies.

"Platelets are one of your body’s repair systems. When a wound occurs, platelets are drawn to the damaged area and release about 30 growth factors. They look at what needs to be healed, and assess what’s needed, whether that’s Collagen, blood vessels, anti-inflammatory response or pain reduction. Platelets are what stop you from bleeding to death even from even a mild wound."

“When I first encountered the vampire facial about 12 years ago, I thought sticking needles into your face was a bit brutal, but the more research I did the more I became convinced of its efficacy in a wide range of health issues. I have also used platelets in the treatment of shoulder injuries and knee arthritis,” says Dr Pitsilis.

A vampire facial is only mildly uncomfortable – a skin numbing cream is used to help mitigate any pain a person may experience – and it’s considerable less costly than a surgical facelift at approximately $800 per treatment (with the average course covering three treatments), compared with upwards of $30,000 or more for a surgical facelift.

A vampire facial can thicken and tighten the skin and stimulates collagen production, making it popular as an anti-ageing treatment that can make your face look more youthful.

Before your vampire facial, Dr Pitsilis says, the clinician will assess your facial shape, listen to your concerns, and run a computerised skin analysis to determine in which areas your skin needs help.

"We will also often prescribe nutritional therapy to optimise the skin’s response," says Dr Pitsilis.

Surgical facelifts, says Dr Pitsilis, involve cutting extra skin, stretching it back and sowing it up.

"Surgical facelifts appear to be declining in popularity as people increasingly seek to improve their appearance and the quality of their skin using non-invasive cosmetic methods."

Elderly couple chatting

The number one most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedure is a Botulinum toxin injection, which relaxes the muscle and gives a more youthful appearance. Second is dermal fillers, which are a gel-like substance injected into the skin to lift and shape the face. Vampire facials are third on the popularity list, but rising fast.

A Botulinum toxin injection can cost between$200 and $600 per treatment, while dermal fillers are around the $1,300 mark. Depending on the circumstances, the skin may need additional light therapies – like painless laser – to complement the treatment. These range in prices ranging between $500 and $1,200.

Non-invasive cosmetic treatments like the vampire facial will normally need an annual top-up treatment to maintain the benefits.

"Among the differences, besides cost, between invasive surgery and the non-invasive treatments like the vampire facial is that the latter is a walk in and walk-out procedure, does not require anesthesia, or weeks of downtime to recover. It has none of the risks normally associated with surgery,” says Dr Pitsilis, adding that her clinic sees men and women from all walks of life."

"We often see men and women who say they need to look good to stay employed, while others will be looking to feel better and improve their self-confidence. Young people who have acne scarring or active acne also come in looking for help."

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