Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, also known as the ‘Vampire Facelift’ or ‘Dracula Therapy’, works on the basis that the body’s own natural healing powers may slow and even reverse the ageing process – it’s a revolutionary repair system that places growth factors in the exact location where we want the skin to repair and rejuvenate itself.
Platelets contain a high content of “growth factors” – proteins that help to heal injured tissue or damaged skin. Upon re-injection the platelets release their growth factors which trigger surrounding cells to proliferate, in turn stimulating repair, increasing volume and rejuvenating the skin.
Blood (a small amount) is taken from the patient during the treatment, then treated (in a centrifuge) to harvest the platelet rich plasma which will be activated and re-injected into the desired area. The therapy is said to plump skin, fill out fine lines and wrinkles, and give an overall more radiant appearance.
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, giving it the nicknames Vampire Facelift and Dracula Therapy. Before the procedure, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient and put into a centrifuge, where the blood is spun in order 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 activated and 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, which is 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.
Which areas can be treated?
PRP therapy can be used on the face, particularly around the eyes, mouth and nose, the backs of the hands, scars and all over the body, more commonly the décolletage and even the knees to give skin a more youthful and radiant appearance.
What does the procedure involve?
After a consultation with our specialist cosmetic doctors, 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 doctor’s office.
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. A topical local anaesthetic will then be applied to the skin of the injection site for 20-30 minutes.
The PRP will then be injected into the skin, with aseptic technique, 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.
The whole procedure usually takes about 1 hour.
When will I see results ?
It may take a few weeks for the results of the PRP therapy to become visible, but with two to three top-up treatments, you can expect the results of PRP therapy to last for up to one and a half years.
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 involves the use of topical anaesthetic, although not always depending on the patient and area being treated, rather than local or general anaesthetic, meaning that most patients feel comfortable returning to their normal activities straight after the treatment or within a short while.
What are the risks and potential complications from PRP treatments?
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, bruise 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 physician following treatment. Post-treatment advice could include:
The use of cold compresses to treat swelling in the treated area, as recommended
Avoid touching and applying any cream or make up for 6 hrs after the treatment to prevent risk of infection.
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).
Individuals with platelet dysfunction syndrome, critical thrombocytopenia, hypofibrinogenaemia, haemodynamic instability, sepsis, acute & chronic infections and chronic liver pathology are not suitable candidates for PRP therapy.
Those undergoing anti-coagulant therapy are also not suitable candidates.