Microneedling seems to be an endless source of inspiration for dermatologists and cosmeticians! Even since microneedling emerged, experts have been combining it with a whole range of other skin treatments, trying to come up with the most effective combo for each skin condition.
The latest in the line of skin needling spin-offs is microneedling with PRP, a version of the famous vampire facial, popularized by none other than Kim Kardashian herself. As soon as she tried the vampire facial in one of the episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the treatment became a huge hit.
The hype has somewhat subsided since then, but microneedling with PRP remains on the service menus of numerous skin clinics and spas. If you’re tempted to try it, here’s all you need to know.
What Is Microneedling with PRP?
Microneedling with PRP is a facial treatment that uses the client’s own blood to stimulate the skin’s natural recovery processes, bringing about an improvement in the skin’s texture and appearance, plumping it up and eliminating the signs of aging.
It’s a complex procedure, so the best way to explain it is to look at both aspects of it independently.
What Is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a skin treatment technique that involves using fine needles to create punctures on the skin, which trigger the skin’s regenerative processes. The punctures are made with either a derma pen or a derma roller.
These needles penetrate the skin at varying depths, depending on the thickness of the skin in the area treated, and the type of condition targeted.
The punctures leave microchannels behind, which are a path for products to penetrate the skin. But they also work on another level. The body perceives the microtrauma as an injury, so it starts the regeneration cycle. To patch up the tissue, collagen and elastin – the essential proteins that make up the structure of the skin – are produced and sent to the area.
These so-called growth factors repair the skin from within, and new, better skin grows over the treated area. This principle can be used to treat a wide range of conditions:
- Signs of aging
- Scarring (especially acne scars and stretch marks)
- Hair loss and hair thinning
The basic microneedling technique takes time to work, though. The collagen web in the skin is repaired gradually, with frequent and regular repetition of the treatment.
For more information, check out our microneedling guide.
Image source: Freepik
What Is a PRP Facial?
The PRP facial is a truly revolutionary anti-aging method. It implies using your own blood to target signs of aging on the face – fine lines and wrinkles – but it also brings about an improvement in the overall appearance of the skin.
To explain how it actually works, we have to dig into physiology a bit.
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. Our blood contains a number of different types of cells, and one of them is platelets – also known as thrombocytes – the tiniest of the blood cells shaped like plates. These cells are crucial to blood-clotting, so they play a major role in injury repair.
One of the cellular components of platelets are alpha granules, which contain high levels of growth factors.
A PRP facial treatment means isolating these platelets from blood, and injecting them back into the skin. Once injected back, these cells introduce a high amount of collagen and elastin and accelerate the skin cell turnover, resulting in intense plumping and a smoothing effect.
The platelets are isolated in the following way:
- A small amount of blood is drawn and put into a vial.
- The vile goes through a centrifuge which separates the blood into 3 components: red cells on the bottom, platelets in the middle, and plasma on top.
- The mid-portion is extracted – this is the serum that will be injected back.
The serum can be applied in several ways: direct injection, or as a mask following a skin-opening technique. This is where the microneedling kicks in.
Image source: Instagram @kimkardashian
How Are Microneedling and PRP Combined?
Microneedling opens up the skin in tiny channels which stay open for a certain time after. The serum extracted from centrifuged blood is applied either simultaneously with the microneedling, or directly afterwards, as a mask.
It’s left on to soak into the skin for a while, and then cleaned off.
Once it reaches under the skin, it works its collagen-infused magic, and gives the skin an intense plum, combined with all the additional benefits of microneedling itself – an increased flow of blood into the area, an attractive glow, a shrinking of pores, etc.
Sounds Kinda Scary! Does It Hurt?
We know that the vampire facial sounds kind of spooky, with blood drawing and everything. But it’s really not as scary as it sounds.
Professional microneedling which goes into the second layer of the skin is done with a topical anesthetic which numbs the area and eliminates the pain, so the application doesn’t hurt. The blood drawing portion is no worse than getting your blood taken for whatever other reason. Unless you have some major needle-phobia, you’ll be just fine.
Your face might feel a bit tender after the treatment, but nothing serious.
Is It Safe?
Yes, if done right.
The possible risks of a vampire facial basically boil down to the risk of infection, which is present any time the skin is opened for any purpose. But as long as the treatment is performed in a sterile environment and with sterile tools, there’s nothing to worry about.
Since this procedure is done by professionals who know how to use the micro needling tools (unlike DIY microneedling), there shouldn’t be any risk of skin damage.
In 2019, a scandal surrounding the vampire facial emerged when 2 cases of HIV infection were linked to this treatment performed at a New Mexico salon. We should note that this risk should not be associated with the treatment itself, but rather to faulty practices of the practitioner. If all health and safety protocols are adhered to, there can be no risk of HIV transmission, since it is your own blood that’s used.
Risks arise when the treatment is performed by undertrained, inexperienced practitioners.
For this reason, we strongly advise you to be careful with where you’re getting the treatment. While it may be available in spas and salons, it’s safer to go to someone with medical training – a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.
Image source: Instagram @drsmootmedspa
Is Microneedling with PRP FDA-Approved?
Not yet, although clinical studies are underway, so it may be approved in the future.
How Much Does PRP Microneedling Cost?
Microneedling with PRP is charged per session, and the ballpark price of a single session is around $750.
As with any beauty treatment, the price can vary based on different factors, but the general range for PRP microneedling is $500 to $1000 per session.
Compared to basic microneedling, which is priced at around $200 per session, vampire facial microneedling is much more expensive, but it also takes fewer sessions to achieve the desired results. You can get a significant improvement from just 1 session, whereas microneedling alone takes at least 3 sessions to give a significant change.
Microneedling with PRP is still a new procedure, and a highly controversial one at that. While some swear by it, others claim it can’t really give the dramatic improvement it’s been praised for. The discussion is ongoing, but it’s definitely an interesting treatment and its huge plus is the fact that it uses your own blood instead of introducing artificial products.
Cover image source: Freepik