PRP Microneedling - All You Need to Know
Microneedling with PRP is also well known by another name – vampire facial – which originated because the procedure actually uses blood to keep you looking young. Here’s how.
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 combination for each skin condition.
And one such (very popular and kind of controversial) spin-off is microneedling PRP, more famously known as the vampire facial. It was popularized by Kim Kardashian – as soon as she tried the vampire facial, it became a huge hit.
The hype has somewhat subsided since, 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 before booking.
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What Is Microneedling with PRP?
PRP microneedling 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.
Regardless of the technique used, the effects are the same: needles penetrate the skin, leaving microchannels behind through which products – or in this case PRP – penetrate the skin.
But there’s more to it. The body perceives 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 skin’s structure – are produced.
These so-called growth factors repair the skin from within, and new, better skin grows over the treated area.
But the basic microneedling technique takes time to work. 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.
What Is a PRP Facial?
The PRP facial is a truly revolutionary skin-perfecting 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.
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 on top of the skin, following a skin-opening technique. This is where the microneedling steps in.
How Are PRP and Microneedling 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 afterward, as a mask. It’s left on to soak into the skin for a while and then cleaned off.
Either way it’s applied, 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.
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Benefits of PRP Microneedling
The benefits of microneedling with PRP are pretty similar to microneedling benefits, but this treatment is more effective given it’s enhanced with the PRP’s effects. Here’s what PRP facial microneedling can do for your skin:
- Boosts collagen and elastin production
- Decreases visibility of pores
- Evens out skin tone & texture
- Improves the appearance of scars
- Reduces hyperpigmentation
- Improves skin firmness
- Increases hair density and quality
- Triggers skin regeneration and helps with rejuvenation
This means vampire facial can be used to treat several skin conditions and it’s especially good for:
PRP Microneedling for Fine Lines and Wrinkles
PRP facial helps promote collagen synthesis and improve skin texture and tone so it can help restore a youthful glow and improve overall skin quality.
Microneedling in general is considered to be a great anti-aging treatment, so using platelet-rich plasma with microneedling increases the effects even further!
Image source: Instagram @rejuvenationbyirina
Microneedling with PRP Under Eyes
PRP microneedling is safe for the sensitive under eye area, but it requires a gentles approach.
By using shorter needles and shallower penetration, you can get all the benefits of microneedling with PRP under eyes.
And, other than reducing wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, this procedure also helps diminish under-eye puffiness and dark circles! Learn more about microneedling around eyes here.
Image source: Instagram @nurseprac_aesthetics
PRP Microneedling for Hyperpigmentation
PRP microneedling helps address all kinds of hyperpigmentation: post-acne, melasma, or sun spots.
The procedure allows for growth factors and other beneficial components of PRP to reach the deeper layers of the skin which then help improve pigmentation irregularities, stimulate cellular turnover, and promote a more even skin tone.
Image source: Instagram @plasma.therapy
PRP Microneedling for Scarring
Microneedling with PRP promotes tissue remodeling, which involves breaking down old scar tissue and replacing it with new, healthy tissue.
Over time, this can lead to smoother, more even skin texture and a reduction in the appearance of scars. Learn more about how microneedling works on acne scars here.
This treatment has proven to be very successful in treating acne scars, but PRP microneedling can also be used to treat surgical scars, acne scars, trauma scars, and even stretch marks on any body part.
Image source: Instagram @ek_aesthetics_bureau
PRP for Stretch Marks
Microneedling is proven to be one of the best ways to treat stretch marks, so combining
it with PRP further enhances the benefits by delivering growth factors directly into the deeper layers of the skin.
Essentially, a stretch mark is a scar so an increase in the amount of collagen and elastin in the area can help gradually plump it up and level it out with the surrounding undamaged skin.
PRP Microneedling for Hair Loss
PRP needling helps improve the health and volume of your hair even faster than just dermarolling your scalp can.
Just like regular microneedling can, PRP microneedling also helps rejuvenate dormant hair follicles by stimulating blood flow – but it also delivers growth factors to the scalp, which can lead to new hair growth in areas where hair has become thin or sparse.
Image source: Instagram @nursestephanieri
Limitations & Contraindications of PRP Microneedling
While PRP microneedling is a pretty versatile procedure, suitable for all skin types and tones, it still has some limitations.
PRP microneedling can’t be performed on clients who:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Used Accutane in the past 6 months
- Had skin radiation in the past year
- Had cancer or chemotherapy in the last 12 months
- Have skin infection on an area to be treated
- Have certain types of rosacea, eczema, or other types of skin conditions unsuitable for this procedure
- Scar easily and have difficulty with wound healing
- Have Hepatitis C, HIV or AIDS, or any type of blood cancer
This is why during the consultations, your treatment provider should review your medical history to ensure you are a suitable candidate and the procedure is safe to do.
What Happens at a PRP Microneedling Session?
Microneedling with PRP is pretty similar to a regular microneedling session, but since this treatment combines platelet-rich plasma with microneedling, there are a few additional steps.
Prep for PRP Microneedling Treatment
During your initial consultation, your treatment provider will instruct you on what’s best to do to prepare for your treatment.
They will most likely focus on what you should be avoiding prior to a vampire facial. This will include anything that’s irritating your skin like unprotected exposure to UV rays, aggressive skincare ingredients, and blood-thinning medications (Aspirin, vitamin E, etc.).
They will also review your medical history to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this procedure.
At the beginning of the actual PRP microneedling process, your treatment provider will apply numbing cream to the area you’re treating to ensure a painless procedure. It usually takes about half an hour to take effect.
Your blood will be extracted and processed. Then the technician will perform microneedling, passing over the desired area with a PRP dermapen or a derma stamp which allows for PRP to be injected directly into the skin, instead of allowing it to sink in on its own.
Sounds Kinda Scary! Does It Hurt?
Not really. 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.
After a PRP Microneedling Treatment
At the very end of your treatment, you will be instructed on how to take care of your skin.
Immediately after the procedure, it’ll be red, tender, and possibly tingly or tight. So for the first 24-48 hours, you need to be extra gentle with it. The technician may also apply a serum or a balm after you’re done to help soothe any irritation.
PRP will most likely be left on the skin until the morning so you get the most out of it. In the morning, you’re supposed to wash it off gently using the products recommended to you by your treatment provider.
You also need to focus on repairing your damaged skin barrier and keeping your skin protected, especially from UV rays – they can cause discoloration and skin damage.
Other than that, you can resume your normal routine with the exception of staying away from the sun, heat, and sweating for the next couple of days.
And no makeup for at least 24-48 hours.
How Long Does It Take to See PRP Needling Results?
Since the body needs some time to start producing collagen and healing itself, the results won’t be instantly noticeable. It usually takes a few weeks to get the full benefits of microneedling with PRP.
In 1-3 weeks you’ll notice visible improvement in your skin texture, and in 4-6 weeks you can expect to see the full effects of the PRP facial. The results of this treatment are long-lasting but may require multiple sessions depending on the severity of the condition you’re looking to treat.
Also take into account that the effectiveness of microneedling with PRP can vary depending on individual factors such as skin type, age, and the severity of the skin concern being addressed.
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 microneedling tools (unlike DIY microneedling), there shouldn’t be any risk of skin damage.
Plus this treatment utilizes your own plasma, instead of using artificially made serums, which reduces the risk of adverse reactions.
Are There Any PRP Microneedling Side Effects?
Mild swelling, redness, and some bruising are very common for the first 3-5 days after the procedure. But these post-procedure skin reactions are normal and temporary.
They resolve without an issue if the skin is not further traumatized during the immediate healing process.
In 2019, a scandal surrounding the vampire facial emerged when 2 cases of HIV infection were linked to this treatment. 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.
Is Microneedling with PRP FDA-Approved?
Not yet, although clinical studies are underway, so it may be approved in the future.
Right now, microneedling, as well as the vast majority of PRP-extracting equipment is cleared by the FDA.
But when it comes to PRP procedures themselves, because they use a patient’s blood which isn’t regarded as “drugs,” the treatments are not subject to FDA approval before they can be used by practitioners.
In other words, practitioners are allowed to use PRP therapy, both legally and ethically, since platelet-rich plasma is not a drug.
It’s important to note that while many procedures and treatments often used in clinics aren’t FDA-approved, they are nonetheless legal since they are listed as being “cleared” for use.
How Much Does PRP Microneedling Cost?
The average PRP microneedling cost is around $750 for a single session.
But as with any beauty treatment, the vampire facial cost can vary based on different factors, so microneedling with PRP cost ranges anywhere from $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.
PRP Microneedling – Main Takeaways
Microneedling with PRP is still a relatively new procedure – and some consider it a highly controversial one at that. Still, it’s considered safe when performed by a professional. Plus the studies showed it’s very effective, even more so than regular microneedling.
But 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.
In case it sounds like too much for you, but you’re on the look for a procedure a bit stronger than regular microneedling, take a look at another spin-off that utilizes radiofrequency instead.
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