Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) – the ‘vampire face lift’
Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP therapy, also known as autologous rejuvenation therapy, is a revolutionary new treatment.
It is often also referred to by the media as the “Vampire Face Lift” or “Dracula Therapy” and has been recently developed for cosmetic use, after being used for many years within the medical and sporting world.
How does it work?
PRP therapy works on the basis that the body’s own natural healing powers can slow and even reverse the ageing process, by placing growth factors (special proteins that help to heal injured tissue or damaged skin) in the exact location where we want the skin to repair and rejuvenate itself.
In the treatment, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient and treated (in a centrifuge) to harvest the platelet-rich plasma which is then re-injected into the desired area.
Where can it be used?
PRP therapy can be used all over the body to give skin a more youthful and radiant appearance, but is most commonly used on the face – particularly around the eyes, mouth and nose – on the backs of the hands, the décolletage and even the knees.
Benefits of the procedure include:
- Improved elasticity, tone and thickness of the skin
- Improved skin colour
- Remodeled collagen fibres
- Long-term smoothing of wrinkles and folds
- Faster healing after aesthetic treatments (laser, chemical peels)
- Stimulating hair growth
Is it safe?
PRP therapy is a revolutionary new therapy that is a safe and alternative treatment to various other non-invasive cosmetic treatments such as botulinum toxins and dermal fillers.
It’s considered to be a natural treatment, as it uses the body’s own cells (blood plasma) rather than a synthetic substance. There are very few risks associated with PRP therapy if it is administered by a fully-trained physician.
If you prefer a more natural approach to skin rejuvenation, PRP is a great option because not only are you getting the benefits of a smoother and brighter skin, but you are injected with only natural resources. There are no known side effects, and your body easily accommodates the filler because it’s made from your own blood.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy and how does it work?
PRP therapy involves harvesting platelets from the patient’s own blood in order to inject them into problem skin areas, which gives it the nicknames ‘Vampire Face lift’ and ‘Dracula Therapy’.
Before the procedure, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient and put into a centrifuge, and the blood is spun to separate the red blood cells from the platelet plasma. The platelet plasma, which is the component of the blood that is known for being highly effective in treating burns and skin injuries, is then injected into the chosen area, where it plumps up the skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
When the platelet plasma is injected into the skin, the platelets release their growth factors. The growth factors stimulate other cells surrounding the injection site, plumping them up and causing them to increase in volume. The platelet plasma sends out signals to other cells in the body when it is injected, telling them to rush forward to the injection site.
One cell that is stimulated during the process is the fibroblast cell, which is the cell type that creates collagen. Collagen is what gives skin a youthful appearance. As we age, collagen is produced less and less, causing wrinkles and fine lines in the skin, and therapies such as PRP therapy that stimulate collagen production can counteract this.
Another cell stimulated during the process is the pre-adipocyte cell – a cell type that can convert into a fat cell – which is especially important in the face to fill out lines and to contour the face.
What can Platelet Rich Plasma therapy treat?
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy can be used to treat numerous cosmetic problems, such as fine lines and wrinkles or ‘crepey’ skin around the mouth and nose, crow’s feet around the eyes and mild drooping or sagging skin around the eyes or on the cheeks.
PRP therapy can also be used to improve the appearance of dehydrated or mildly sagging skin on the backs of the hands, on the tops of the feet, elbows and knees. It can be used all over the body.
What happens during a PRP treatment?
10 to 20 minutes before your procedure, your practitioner will draw 10-20ml of blood. This is done in a similar way to when you have blood taken for testing at the GP. The blood will then be spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelet plasma from the red blood cells using one of the branded systems described.
Any makeup on the skin will be removed using a wipe, and antiseptic will be applied to the injection site. Depending on your practitioner, a topical local anaesthetic will then be applied to the skin of the injection site. The PRP will then be injected into the skin in the desired area using a very fine needle. Injections will be given multiple times in multiple locations in order to give an overall improvement to the area.
An ice pack may then be pressed onto the treated site to reduce any swelling. You will then be free to leave and go about your daily business. The whole procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
It may take a few weeks for the results of the PRP therapy to become visible, but with two or three top-up treatments, you can expect the results of PRP therapy to last for up to 18 months.
How long will it take to recover from a PRP treatment?
Recovery time is minimal with Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, much like a visit to the doctor for a blood test.
The actual procedure of reinjection of the PRP may involve the use of topical anaesthetic – depending on the patient and area being treated – rather than local or general anaesthetic. This means that most patients feel comfortable returning to their normal activities, either straight after the treatment or within a short while.
What are the potential risks and complications from PRP treatment?
There are few side effects associated with Platelet Rich Plasma therapy. Immediately after the procedure, you can expect some bruising, swelling and redness at the injection sites. You may also experience some tenderness and pain at the injection sites. However, any side effects should dissipate within a few days following the procedure.
What should you do after a Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy treatment?
It is very important that you follow the advice of your practitioner following treatment. Post-treatment advice could include:
- The use of painkillers to treat soreness or pain in the treated area, as recommended
- The use of cold compresses to treat swelling in the treated area, as recommended
Most patients will be able to go straight back to their normal regime following treatment, but if you experience any tenderness or pain at the treatment site, you should take extra care when washing and caring for your skin in the days following the PRP therapy.
Who should not have a Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy treatment?
To undergo PRP therapy, you should be in general good health and you should have realistic expectations of the outcome.
Most people are suitable candidates for PRP therapy, and it is recommended as a safe treatment for individuals who are unable to undergo more invasive procedures such as a full face lift, due to the risks associated with general anaesthetic (although it will not achieve the same results as a surgical face lift).
Patients with a medical history of carcinoma are not suitable for PRP therapy.