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Debunking the “Blood Facial”
PRP for Anti-Aging and Hair Restoration
Articles all over the internet used headings like this to balk at the “Hollywood blood facial” and the sheer absurdity of “smothering yourself in blood” to reverse the signs of aging. Not to mention the fact that it costs a pretty penny to do so.
Microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP), commonly called the “vampire facial,” became this tabloid sensation after Kim Kardashian infamously documented herself getting the treatment on social media.
This regenerative aesthetic treatment does utilize your own blood, which may seem outlandish, but isn’t actually as grotesque as the media makes it seem. For starters, it isn’t as simple (or gross) as smearing blood on your face.
“Vampire facials” and other PRP aesthetic treatments are well-loved among Hollywood insiders, and for good reason. Let’s talk about what PRP actually is (and isn’t) and why it is so effective for skin enhancement, facial rejuvenation, hair regrowth, and more.
What Is PRP?
Platelet-rich-plasma, or PRP, is a concentrated extraction of platelets suspended in a small amount of plasma. Platelets contain powerful growth factors, hormones, nutrients and other bioactive compounds important for tissue repair and regeneration.
Platelets and plasma are both found in blood, along with red and white blood cells:
- Red blood cells are the most abundant cells in the blood. They contain hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color and helps carry oxygen throughout your body.
- White blood cells are essential to immunity. They regulate the function of other immune cells, attack infected cells and tumors, and make antibodies.
- Plasma is the liquid portion of blood; it is made up of water, sugar, fat, protein, and salt. Plasma transports blood cells, nutrients, waste products, antibodies, proteins and hormones throughout your body.
- Platelets are small fragments of cells that contain powerful growth factors. They play an essential role in blood clotting, wound healing, and tissue regeneration.
PRP is obtained by centrifuging, or spinning, blood to separate it into these four components. The platelets are then recombined with a small amount of plasma to create platelet-rich plasma, which contains at least twice the platelet concentration of normal blood plasma.
PRP has been used in dentistry and oral surgery since the mid 1990’s. It then became popular among athletes, often used in sports medicine and orthopedics to accelerate the healing of joint, soft tissue, and bone injuries. Today, PRP is making a name for itself in cosmetics due to its undeniable ability to repair and regenerate aged or damaged tissues.
How Does PRP Work?
The high concentration of platelets in PRP super-charges the healing and regeneration process in the area where it is injected. The platelets release growth factors, which signal to the surrounding cells to repair the damaged tissue and create new, healthy tissue.
Some of the key PRP growth factors involved in this process include:
- Platelet-Derived Growth Factor (PDGF)
- Transforming Growth Factor group (TGF)
- Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF)
- Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)
- Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF)
- Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF)
All PRP treatments require the same three-step process: blood is drawn, then processed to extract the PRP, and then injected into the treatment area.
Since platelet-rich-plasma is obtained from your own blood, there is little to no risk of rejection or adverse reaction. Thus, PRP therapy is completely natural and very safe.
Reverse Aging With PRP
Aesthetic PRP treatments are an effective, non-surgical way to rejuvenate skin and stimulate hair regrowth. PRP can be used to augment other anti-aging treatments, like microneedling, or as a stand-alone treatment, like in hair restoration or facial injections.
Microneedling with PRP (the “Vampire Facial”)
Microneedling is a skin rejuvenation procedure that uses tiny needles to create micro-channels in the skin. This stimulates new collagen production and elastin which helps to fill fine lines, soften wrinkles, enhance volume, and restore a more youthful appearance through its elasticity.
When microneedling is combined with PRP (the “vampire facial”) the regenerative effects are magnified.
Don’t worry, it isn’t as painful as it sounds. Prior to the treatment you receive a topical anesthetic to minimize any discomfort.
A common cause of hair loss is damaged hair follicles. Just as PRP can stimulate the repair and regeneration of other damaged tissues, it can also do so for hair follicles.
PRP injections into the scalp have proven to be an effective treatment for hair loss by naturally repairing damaged follicles and stimulating hair regrowth. Results of this non-surgical procedure include thicker, fuller hair that looks, and is, completely natural.
Face Volumizing “Filler”
PRP can be used as an alternative to, or in combination with, hyaluronic acid fillers such as Restylane® or Juvederm®.
As a volumizing injectable, PRP is injected under the skin much like traditional fillers. However, rather than simply filling in the sunken areas, the PRP growth factors also stimulate your body’s production of collagen and elastin to restore a natural, youthful volume to these areas.
Your own PRP can be used to plump out cheek indentations, soften under-eye hollows, and improve skin tone, tightness, and skin texture.
Dispelling the “Blood Facial” Myths
Those gruesome images of Kim Kardashian wiping her blood-spattered face with a white towel have led to many misconceptions about PRP, microneedling, and just where exactly all that blood came from.
Just to reiterate, microneedling with PRP does not entail smearing blood all over your face.
The blood you see in Kim K’s photos is surface bleeding caused by the microneedling. It was not drawn from her arm and then smeared on her face. Microneedling (with or without PRP) intentionally inflicts minor trauma to the skin to stimulate the body’s healing and regeneration response. A small amount of bleeding is part of this process.
As we described above, the “vampire facial” then uses PRP to enhance the results of microneedling. This is done either by injecting PRP under the skin before microneedling, or by spreading PRP over the skin after microneedling, or a combination of both.
If anything, PRP actually makes microneedling less bloody. When PRP is spread over microneedled skin, it stops the bleeding. This is due to the blood-clotting properties of platelets.
Besides, PRP might be obtained from blood, it isn’t actually blood. It it isn’t even red but, rather, a golden yellow or light amber. This is because highly concentrated PRP contains as few blood cells as possible.
How Blood Inhibits PRP Growth Factors
It is the platelets, not the blood cells, that stimulate tissue regeneration in PRP therapy. Even though red and white blood cells have important healing functions in the body, they can actually hinder the effectiveness of the platelet growth factors.
Red blood cells are pro-inflammatory, which means a high red blood cell content in PRP is likely to result in more post-treatment pain. Too many red blood cells can also promote oxidative stress and lead to hemosiderin staining, or a permanent bruise, in the treatment area.
White blood cells are also pro-inflammatory. The presence of these immune cells in PRP can also result in a misdirected immune response in which they actually target and destroy the platelets. Significant amounts of white blood cells in PRP can lead to increased inflammation, impaired healing process, tissue damage, and localized pain.
The quantity of red and white blood cells in PRP is determined by limitations in plasma processing technology and the quality of the blood centrifuge system. A superior-quality PRP system will produce PRP that is as pure and highly-concentrated as plasma technology allows.
NEXT|BEAUTY: The Gold Standard For PRP Therapy
The purity and composition of PRP can dramatically affect its performance in the body, and thus the overall effectiveness of a PRP treatment. And all PRP processing systems are not created equal.
At Next Health, we use the most advanced PRP technology available to ensure our PRP treatments deliver maximum results with the utmost safety.
Our state-of-the-art PRP system utilizes a patented separator gel technology to isolate the platelets, while removing nearly all undesirable components such as red and white blood cells. This advanced centrifuge technology produces PRP that contains 2.5 to 4 times the platelet concentration of the baseline blood plasma.
Some centrifuge systems are not FDA-approved, or they are approved solely for blood collection and preparation, not for PRP preparation and injection. This means the collection tubes may be “sterile,” but not necessarily free of potentially harmful contaminants or safe for PRP therapy.
Our FDA-approved centrifuge system is designed for PRP processing and guaranteed to be pyrogen-free. These surface contaminants, and other chemical additives, can cause fever or toxicity if injected into the blood.
Whether you are looking to rejuvenate your facial skin, restore lost collagen, or reverse hair loss, our NEXT|BEAUTYⓇ Aesthetic PRP treatments are safe, comfortable, and effective. You can trust that our highly-trained aesthetic nurses and state-of-the art PRP processing technology will deliver the best results possible. For all your general inquiries head to our website.