Did you know that a popular ingredient used to achieve youthful, glowing skin and to stimulate thicker hair growth is actually found in your own blood? Our blood contains platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP, which is used in popular procedures like the vampire microneedling facial, which Kim Kardashian has done, to help people who are suffering from hair loss and more.
“The uses for PRP are expanding every day,” New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. David Shafer explains. “PRP is used for hair stimulation, for joint regeneration, skin rejuvenation and wound healing. Your platelets are injected under the skin or introduced into the skin via microneedling. Once in the skin, the platelets release growth factors which help trigger regenerative and rejuvenating processes.”
To get PRP, patients first have their own blood drawn with a needle by a doctor. “During the procedure, blood is taken from the patient in the same way when a patient gives a blood sample for labs during their physical examination,” Dr. Shafer explains. “The blood is collected in sterile tubes filled with a special filtering solution and then placed in the centrifuge. When the centrifuge spins, the various components of the blood are separated in layers. The platelet layer condenses and forms what we call the platelet-rich plasma.”
For use in the vampire facial, which Dr. Shafer performs, the PRP is re-injected back into your face using very tiny microneedles that create punctures.
“Microneedling works by introducing microscopic channels in the skin,” he says. “This process stimulates collagen and other rejuvenation processes in the skin. By including PRP in the process, the high concentrations of growth factors which are released boost the micro needling effects.” You can also apply PRP to your skin after a laser treatment to boost the results and speed up recovery time, he adds.
As for my own experience with the vampire facial, they used numbing cream on my face before they began microneedling the PRP — but there was still some discomfort during the treatment. On a scale from one to 10, I’d rate the pain during this procedure a five. Your face can bleed during the vampire facial and it will be very red for a few days afterwards. But in a few weeks, you’ll see clearer, brighter skin as the collagen starts to regenerate.
PRP also gets injected into the scalp of people who are suffering from hair loss, but it can take multiple treatments to see results.
“It’s either injected with a needle or applied with microneedling to perform the treatment,” Dr. Shafer says. “Patients often need several treatments for the most benefit. This is a very useful treatment for patients after chemotherapy to stimulate hair growth and also for patients with natural hair loss.”
And while PRP procedures are becoming increasingly popular, it’s important to only get these treatments from a doctor you know and trust.
“This is a medical procedure involving a patient’s blood. Patients should make sure that they are being seen and treated by well-qualified and certified doctor’s offices,” Dr. Shafer cautions. “As with any medical procedure, strict sterility and proper protocol is essential. In non-medical offices and when being treated by unqualified people, there is risk for contamination, improperly sterilized instruments and technical errors which can be dangerous and even life-threatening for unsuspecting patients.”
Finally, you should only undergo any PRP treatments when you’re feeling well. “If a patient is sick or anemic (with a low blood count), it would be best to wait until the patent is healthy before having the procedure,” he recommends.