If you don’t follow KimKardashian on Instagram, or if you haven’t watched the episode of Kim and Kourtney Take Miami on which the elder sister gets the treatment that ended in a bloody selfie, then you may not have heard of—and you may be appalled by—the increasingly popular cosmetic procedure known as the vampire facial.
The vampire facial, otherwise known as a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) facial, looks gruesome and hasn’t been clinically proven to work, but it has nonetheless a considerable following. The procedure promises to wipe decades off your face,eliminating wrinkles, acne scars, and an uneven skin tone.
A PRP facial involves drawing a few tablespoons’ worth of blood from your arm, separating the platelets from the blood, and injecting these into your face with a syringe or needles, or topically after you’ve been microneedled—or pricked with a lot of tiny needles.
Platelets are tiny blood cells whose function is to clot the blood. When a blood vessel gets damaged, the platelets are first responders, who arrive to plug up the problem.They bind to collagen beneath the skin, triggering its activation. Injecting platelets into the face tricks the cells into thinking there’s been an injury and producing collagen in response.
The cosmetic procedure began as a medical one. Doctors would inject plasma-rich platelets into torn ligaments in injured athletes to accelerate the healing process. While the practice’s cosmetic applications have been heavily debated, some people report that the concept is transferable and effective.
The procedure takes about an hour. You emerge with a bloody face and some people experience redness and sensitivity for a couple of days. Many find the PRP facial compelling because recovery is minimal and pretty quick—a marked departure from facelifts,which require downtime and days off.
Results can last a year and a half. The treatment can be expensive—up to $1,000 for a single session. Usually,to see results you’ll need three or more treatments.
Because there isn’t much research to support or critique its effectiveness, if you’re interested in a vampire facial your best bet is to find a medically-trained,board-certified professional to administer the procedure.
Given the vampire facial involves the transfusion of blood, there are many conditions that disqualify you as a candidate. If you have Hepatitis C, HIV or AIDS, any type of blood cancer, skin cancer, or if you are taking a blood thinner, you’re not advised to get a vampire facial. These conditions can affect your platelet levels. If you have an infection, septicemia, anemia,a fever, or if you are a smoker or allergic to cows or have used Accutane, you’re also advised against getting a PRP facial.
If you’re pregnant, think twice; Kim Kardashian learned the hard way that her bun in the oven would render her ineligible for anesthesia, so she felt the unmasked pain of pricking having her face pricked until it bled. According to her Instagram caption, she does not recommend this, even if beauty is said to be pain.