The Vampire Facial: What Is It and What Are The Risks?
The vampire facial got its name to fame when some celebrities disclosed that they were in the habit of having this treatment. Consequently, the demand and supply in aesthetic centers also increased.
A vampire facial consists of extracting blood, centrifuging it, and re-inoculating the platelet-rich plasma. However, there’s also another procedure that is performed with microneedles and receives the same name.
In this article, we’ll explain what a vampire facial is, how it’s practiced, and its benefits and risks. Are they really all that effective?
What is the vampire facial and how is it done?
Two procedures are known by the name vampire facial. Although one is more popular than the other, they both have in common the fact that the face looks bloody when they’re performed (hence the name).
In the vampire facial that was popularized some time ago by a celebrity, the procedure involves drawing the patient’s blood and centrifuging it to isolate platelet-rich plasma.
This blood is said to be full of thrombocytes and growth factors, so it may help induce cellular repair. This fluid is then infiltrated into the face and the rest of the blood is applied as a mask. It gives the impression that the person is injured.
As for the other procedure, it’s usually practiced with micro-needling or microneedles on a roller. The name has been given to it because bleeding occurs, and although it’s light, it’s just as shocking to the eye.
In the latter procedure, the multiple needles of the device open microchannels. This is intended to allow some nutrients (vitamins and antioxidants), as well as medications, to penetrate the skin. It’s said that the dermis also releases growth factors in an attempt to repair the damage generated by the needles.
However, it should be noted that both procedures can be combined. In this case, platelet-rich plasma is inoculated into the microchannels produced by the needles, or it’s injected using the technique known as mesotherapy.
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The benefits of the vampire facial
The vampire facial is presented as a procedure that promotes the reactivation of stem cells, which may contribute to skin rejuvenation. In general terms, the following benefits are often attributed to it:
- It may give greater luminosity
- The vampire facial may help eliminate or lessen spots and scars
- It may reduce hyperpigmentation
- It may help to stimulate collagen and elastin production
- The vampire facial may help to diminish wrinkles and expression lines
The risks and side effects
Both the name of the treatment and even the way the person looks while undergoing it can be unsettling. However, it is assured that the chances of allergic reactions and side effects are relatively low with the vampire facial, due to the fact that it works with the patient’s own blood plasma.
On the other hand, some reactions may occur since it’s a somewhat invasive approach. One of them is pain due to the microneedles. However, a topical anesthetic is commonly used to minimize it and make it bearable.
In addition, other side effects that may appear are hematomas, redness, scars, granulomas, wounds that take time to heal, as well as reactions to the substances that are introduced. When performed under strict aseptic conditions by certified health professionals, the chances of skin infections are greatly reduced.
Another potential danger is the spread of diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis B or C, which are transmitted by contact with an infected person’s blood. For this reason, sterile microneedles should be used. However, this risk can also be present when blood components are separated. In this regard, cases of serious infections have been described for these treatments.
Finally, it should be noted that there are devices that can be purchased by individuals to perform the procedure at home. This is considered a potential danger, because they would be used without the presence or supervision of a health professional.
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Precautions to be taken
Taking into consideration all that has been said, there are some safety measures to be taken into account before having a vampire facial:
- Perform the procedure in an authorized medical center under strict hygienic measures in a controlled environment.
- It’s essential that the professional uses sterilized and hypoallergenic equipment (titanium, gold, or stainless steel needles are recommended).
- It’s necessary that the person undergoes a complete medical evaluation beforehand to know if he/she is allergic or if any disease or pathology could be activated or aggravated with this treatment.
Is the vampire facial effective?
Among the studies on the subject, we can mention the one conducted by Vikas et al. It states that microneedles in combination with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) are effective for skin rejuvenation.
For their part, Porwal, Chahar and Singh conducted a clinical study with a control group, in which 55 patients who showed scarring problems due to acne participated. They evaluated the effectiveness of microneedling (with the Dermaroller® device) with intradermal PRP injections in 3 sessions at monthly intervals.
After treatment, a significant improvement was observed in the visual analog score scale and in the dermatologic quality of life index. However, there were some side effects.
Some health and aesthetic experts disagree with these claims. In this regard, they warn that health information disseminated by celebrities often carries more weight than if it were said by health authorities.
In short, there are mixed opinions regarding the procedure. While some people claim that this technique has many benefits, there are still no comprehensive reviews on its effectiveness.