It is called a Vampire Facelift™ because the facelift is achieved with the use of your own blood platelets combined with hyaluronic acids fillers. In this article we will concentrate on the blood portion.
The same PRP healing elements that we have written about throughout this website have been successfully applied to cosmetic medicine. The utilization of Platelets and other growth factors found in your blood, trigger new collagen production. This results is tauter, smoother and more youthful skin. When combined with dermal fillers; shape, color, texture and volume are all restored with the outcome lasting approximately 18 months.
In this article we will discuss how Platelet Rich Plasma, or “The Vampire Facelift,” can produce a more natural and youthful facial appearance than traditional surgical facelifts.
Although there can be a place for a surgical facelift, such procedures are not necessarily a panacea or cure-all to the concerns of the aging face. Cosmetic surgery when needed can remove excess skin and make the person appear younger. However, a surgical facelift can actually contribute to a face collapse as the skin stretches tighter against the bone making the person look skeletonized.
The Vampire Facelift provides non-surgical solutions to the challenges of maintaining a youthful appearance in aging faces. The procedure addresses:
- Facial wrinkles.
- Facial volume correction such as the thinning of the dermis (volume loss) seen with weight loss.
- Improve texture of the skin and rejuvenate the complexion by using the combination of Platelet Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) and dermal fillers.
- Changes in skin color. As we age we develop dull, greying skin because of reduced blood circulation in the face. The Vampire Facelift helps restore healthy natural looking glowing skin.
- The loss of skin elasticity.
- The slow collapse of the facial structure and subsequent droopiness in the shape of the face.
The PRP used in the Vampire Facelift® is the same as that used for years at Darrow Wellness to effectively speed joint, tendon and tissue repair. Our extensive experience using PRP to stimulate tissue repair and regeneration combined with our vast experience injecting fillers makes the Vampire Facelift® a cinch, with impressive results!
Growth factor production known effects – What is Platelet Rich Plasma?
The term “Platelet Rich Plasma,” is routinely used to describe the healing injectable solution made from a concentration of a patient’s blood platelets. Every skin product, whether the Vampire Facelift, traditional surgical facelift, creams, lotions or other injections such as botox, have before and after pictures. They all show improvements. But why do we think the Vampire Facelift is the treatment to offer? Science. PRP has shown long-term to be able to change the skin of the face on a cellular level to that of a more youthful appearance.
Blood platelets contain many healing factors. When the platelets are separated from the whole blood, an injectable “platelet rich plasma,” (PRP) healing solution is created. A solution rich in powerful facial rejuvenation growth factors.
- Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) – Stimulates fibroblasts to secrete collagenase to degrade the matrix during the remodeling phase. Stimulates keratinocyte and fibroblast proliferation.
- Transforming Growth Factor- Promotes angiogenesis, up-regulates collagen production and inhibits degradation, promotes chemo attraction of inflammatory cells.
- Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) – Endothelial cells promote angiogenesis during tissue hypoxia.
- Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) – Promotes angiogenesis, granulation, and epithelialization via endothelial cell, fibroblast, and keratinocyte migration, respectively.
- Platelet-Derived Growth Factor (PDGF) – Attracts macrophages and fibroblasts to zone of injury. Promotes collagen and proteoglycan synthesis.
- Interleukins, Macrophages, keratinocytes, endothelial cells, lymphocytes, fibroblasts, osteoblasts, basophils, mast cells – Activates fibroblast differentiation. Induces collagen and proteoglycan synthesis.
- Colony Stimulating Factors – Stimulates granulocyte and macrophage proliferation.
- Keratinocyte Growth Factor – Fibroblasts stimulate keratinocyte migration, differentiation, and proliferation.
In December 2021 these known effects were reviewed in the journal Cytokine & growth factor reviews.(1)
“Platelets produce platelet growth factors such as Platelet-Derived Growth Factor , Insulin-like growth factor 1, Epidermal Growth Factor-, human growth factor, Transforming Growth Factor, Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor, and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, which are crucial in regulating all stages of the wound healing process. The source of these substances is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Over the past five decades, the interest and use of the regenerative properties of platelets have increased significantly in many different fields of medicine around the world.”
Centering on dermatology:
“PRP and PRF plate preparations are used in dermatology and cosmetology (treatment of alopecia, hair reconstruction . . . acne scars, skin rejuvenation and regeneration, treatment of chronic and poorly healing wounds, burns, and acquired vitiligo) . . . “
2021-22 New research on Platelet Rich Plasma treatments for facial rejuvenation
A November 2021 paper wrote: (2) “PRP is been increasingly used for skin and neck rejuvenation. Most of the studies have shown improvement in skin color and texture and better tissue tension which helps in decreasing wrinkle depth. Activated PRP has been shown to stimulate dermal fibroblast proliferation, and activated PPP has been reported to increase type I collagen. PRP has been reported to increase the dermal elasticity, hyaluronic acid synthesis, and collagen production leading to a smooth and tighter skin. By improving the skin moisturization, hyaluronic acid improves volume and skin turgor. Both, direct intradermal injections and topical PRP under occlusion have been tried. Much evidence for topical PRP under occlusion does not exist in literature. . . PRP appears to be safe, with a low-risk profile. The commonly reported side effects include pain during injections, erythema, edema, and bruising.”
Another November 2021 paper wrote: (3) “PRP has beneficial effects on facial rejuvenation either alone or in combination with other treatment modalities such as laser treatment, fat grafting, subcision, growth factors, and thread lifting. This systematic literature review reveals the high potential of PRP in generating growth factors combined with platelets that render healing effect is essentially a minimally invasive technique for the treatment of skin acne scars and aging. However, due to the lack of uniformity in reporting PRP preparation and employing standard valid assessment methods to report outcomes, there is paucity in proving the therapeutic benefits of PRP using meta-analysis with the available data.”
In 2002, doctors at Yale University discussed the use of PRP following plastic surgery.
PRP for facial rejuvenation and wound healing is far from a new idea. This treatment concept has been the subject of intense research for decades. Let’s explore the last twenty years.
Looking to help head, neck and facial cancer patients, doctors at Yale University’s Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery wrote: (4)
- The response of living tissue to injury is a central component in the planning of all surgical procedures (including wound healing and facial reconstruction).
- The wound-healing process is typically divided into three phases (inflammatory, proliferative, and remodeling) and it is a complex process where many components interact to restore a wound defect.
- Platelets and their released growth factors are pivotal in the modulation of this entire process.
- Although several techniques may be used to achieve repair after initial injury, few initiate and actually accelerate tissue regeneration. Both platelet gel and fibrin glue (body glue) are effective hemostatic agents.
- Platelet gels, unlike fibrin glue, have a high concentration of platelets that release the bioactive proteins and growth factors necessary to initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration.
- In particular, two growth factors that play a major role in platelet gels are platelet-derived growth factor and transforming growth factor beta, which significantly increases and stimulates the deposition of extracellular matrix (the “soup” that cartilage grows from).
- Platelet gels have global applications in surgery and are especially useful for the soft tissue and bony reconstructions encountered in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. In these applications, their use has been associated with a decrease in operative time, necessity for drains and pressure dressings, and incidence of complications.
This study followed similar research from doctors at Florida Atlantic University (5) who tested “PRP” gel and fibrin glue to evaluate their effectiveness in stopping capillary bleeding in the surgical flaps of patients undergoing cosmetic surgery. The types of surgical procedures included face lifts, breast augmentations, breast reductions, and neck lifts. Capillary bed bleeding was present in all tested cases and effectively sealed within three minutes following the application of platelet gel and fibrin glue. Clearly, PRP is a healer and has a place in cosmetic procedures.
Reversing sun damage
As researchers started to see results in facial reconstruction and wound healing, they began to look at PRP for other cosmetic challenges.
In 2003, doctors at Scripps-XIMED Medical Center began looking at growth factors in the repair of sun damaged skin. (6) This is what they wrote:
- Though surgical procedures may be very effective, the associated healing time and potential risks have spurred the development of non-surgical treatments.
- There has also been an increasing depth of knowledge regarding wound healing and its control by growth factors as well as its modulation by the topical application of growth factors.
The objective of this study was to determine if the twice daily application of a combination of multiple growth factors (such as those found in PRP) to photodamaged facial skin results in any evidence of improvement after 60 days.
- Eleven of 14 patients showed clinical improvement in at least one facial area. The peri-orbital (around the eyes) region showed a statistically significant improvement.
- There was a decrease in the depth and number of textural irregularities or fine lines.
- Biopsies revealed new collagen formation and thickening of the epidermis by 27%.
- Eight of 14 patients felt their wrinkles were improved, while 12 of 14 felt their skin texture was improved.
The application of a mixture of topical growth factors may stimulate the repair of facial photodamage resulting in new collagen formation, epidermal thickening and the clinical appearance of smoother skin with less visible wrinkling.
Comparing PRP in one cheek with Saline in the other
A 2018 study from dermatologists at Northwestern University (7) compared saline injection in one cheek with PRP injection in the other cheek.
“Primary outcomes were photoaging scores (with subscores for fine lines, mottled pigmentation, roughness, and sallowness) as rated by 2 masked dermatologists (which means the dermatologists did not know which check go0t which). Secondary outcomes included participant self-assessment scores of improvement on a 5-point scale (worsening, no change, mild improvement, moderate improvement, or significant improvement), participant overall satisfaction scores on a 4-point scale (not satisfied, slightly satisfied, moderately satisfied, or very satisfied), and participant-reported or investigator-observed adverse events.
“Masked participants (the patients did not know which cheek got the saline and which cheek got the PRP) noted that both fine and coarse texture improved significantly more with a single treatment of PRP (they noted improvement before it was revealed to them which cheek received which treatment) than with normal saline.”
A 2021 study (8) cited this research in support of Epidermal Growth Factor (discussed above) as a promising skin antiaging agent that successfully promotes skin wound repair, and it has been investigated in the past decade for these purposes.
Skin or micro-needling is a medical procedure where small thin needles are used to pierce the skin to produce wounds to stimulate the growth of new collagen. Micro-needling is an easy, minimally invasive procedure that you can do as little or as much as you want. This procedure is perfect if you are looking to simply reduce the look of fine lines, or if you are treating scarring from acne.
In this study from doctors from Turkey (9) an evaluation of the effectiveness of intradermal injection of PRP in the human facial rejuvenation was made. Twenty women ranging in age from 40 to 49 years were enrolled in the study. PRP increases dermal collagen levels not only by growth factors, but also by skin needling. PRP application could be considered as an effective (even a single application) and safety procedure for facial skin rejuvenation.
A paper from China notes that needling can change the aging state of skin possibly by strengthening the activity of fibroblasts in the skin and by increasing the content of soluble collagen.(10)
In the Vampire Lift procedure, your face is rolled with a derma roller. A derma roller is a cylindrical shaped drum that is studded with tiny fine “micro needles.” Gently pricking your skin with the derma roller stimulates the creation of new skin cells and regeneration of damaged cells. Your own PRP is then massaged into the skin. The goal is to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, and the creation of new cells. Your skin will glow and immediately feel smoother and softer, with progressive improvements continuing for several months.
In a 2012 paper from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary’s department of plastic surgery. (11) Doctors wrote how platelets created collagen, created a fat layer, and created circulation in skin. In this study:
Patients were injected with a Platelet-rich fibrin maxtrix in the deep dermis and immediate subdermis of the upper arms.
- Findings from examination supported the clinical observation of soft-tissue augmentation.
- As early as 7 days after treatment, activated fibroblasts (healing cells) and new collagen deposition were noted and continued to be evident throughout the 10 week course of the study.
- Development of new blood vessels was noted by 19 days; also at this time, intradermal collections of adipocytes and stimulation of subdermal adipocytes were noted (fat layers of skin).
Let’s note that in 2022, Google scholar lists 131 scientific papers citing this research.
In 2010, doctors in Italy wrote in the Journal of drugs and dermatology that “Face and neck revitalization with PRP is a promising easy-to-perform technique in face and neck rejuvenation and scar attenuation.”(12)
In 2014, doctors in Turkey wrote that in their patient studies, there was statistically significant difference regarding the general appearance, skin firmness-sagging and wrinkle state of the patients before and after three PRP applications.(13)
- Soften fine lines and wrinkles;
- Look refreshed and younger, with a more youthful skin texture, color and tone.
PRP Therapy Combined with Fillers (aka as Vampire Facelift®)
The original Vampire Facelift® is achievable combining the use of fillers with PRP serum. The fillers provide an instant fill or volume correction and the PRP immediately initiates a skin regeneration process. Patients can see and feel the effects immediately as their skin becomes smoother and firmer. The filler products we use in conjunction with the PRP serum are Restylane or Juvederm Ultra Plus. Both are hyaluronic acids. The use of PRP with fillers prolongs the effective filler correction for three to six months longer than when fillers are used alone.
Doctors at the University of Rome (14) achieved positive results when PRP platelet rich plasma in combination with hyaluronic acid was used as a temporary skin substitute in aiding healing of acute and chronic open wounds of the foot and ankle.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (15) recorded:
- A series of 94 female patients with varying degrees of facial aging signs were treated with PRP and hyaluronic acid.
- Average age was 53, youngest being 48, oldest 63.
- Average number of injections were about 3 and one-half.
Patients were asked to rate their personal satisfaction with their skin texture, pigmentation, and sagging. In addition, the overall results were rated by three independent physicians and the patients themselves. The outcomes were peer-reviewed, and correlations between the degree of the aesthetic scores and the number of injections were explored.
- There was a statistically significant difference in general appearance, skin firmness-sagging and skin texture according to the patients’ before and after applications of PRP.
- A statistically significant correlation was found between the number of injections and overall satisfaction.
PRP Therapy Used as Stand-Alone Skin Rejuvenation
Patients who don’t want or need fillers can benefit from PRP to improve fine lines and improve the way their skin looks and feels. Think of PRP treatment as a NATURAL alternative to fillers. Your body is creating the corrections desired.
- Areas ideal for stand-alone PRP therapy include:
- Full Face (when no filler needed)
- Neck (especially horizontal necklace lines)
- Crow’s Feet
- Under the eye Fine Wrinkles
- Acne Scars
In a review study, doctors at Weill Cornell Medical College say that the vast majority of studies examined show a significant and measurable effect on cellular changes, wound healing, and facial esthetic outcomes with use of platelet preparations, both topical and injectable. (16)
In a study from Egypt, (17) doctors took Forty-five patients with atrophic acne scars and randomly assigned to 3 equal groups:
- Group A received intradermal injection of PRP,
- Group B received chemical reconstruction of skin scars,
- and Group C was treated by combined skin needling and PRP.
Each patient underwent 3 sessions at 2-week intervals. The 3 groups showed statistically highly significant improvement in the degree of acne scars after treatment No major adverse effects were observed in the studied groups.
This is the first study to use intradermal injection of PRP alone for the treatment of atrophic acne scars. The 3 modalities showed a promising efficacy and safety in the treatment of atrophic acne scars.
Can blood really do all this?
As we have seen the science is very deep.
In a November 2021 paper published in the The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology (18) the authors wrote:
“Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been integrated into numerous treatment regimens for medical and aesthetic dermatology. . . In general, we identified positive treatment outcomes for skin rejuvenation, scar revision, alopecia, pigmentary disorders, lichen sclerosus, leprosy-induced peripheral neuropathy, plaque psoriasis, and nail disorders. Widely, therapy was well-tolerated and suitable for all reported phototypes.”