PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy has been used widely in orthopaedic and sports medicine to treat muscle and ligament injuries. More recently it has been adopted as a cosmetic treatment to treat signs of ageing and alopecia.
In 2013, Kim Kardashian made this treatment famous when she posted a rather gruesome photo of her blood-covered face on Instagram. What followed was an explosion in customers asking for this treatment.
PRP therapy, also called PRP facials, ‘vampire facials’ and 'Dracula therapy', is a treatment which recycles potent elements found naturally in blood.
PRP therapy brands include: Regen, GLOPRP, Angel Lift and Cellenis.
Blood contains platelets. We are familiar with the role of platelets in blood clotting, but what is probably less well known is that platelets contain proteins called growth factors. These growth factors are potent triggers for many of the processes involved in tissue growth and wound healing. It is these growth factors that are harnessed and utilised in PRP therapy.
PRP therapy is used for facial rejuvenation, improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars and increasing skin plumpness. It can also be used to decrease healing time after ablative laser treatments and to treat hair loss.
Basically, a small amount of blood is removed from your arm and then spun at high speed in a centrifuge. This separates the blood into its component parts. Of interest to your practitioner (and you) is the portion that contains platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
This is can then be injected directly into your skin, combined with filler and injected, or applied to the surface of your skin following a microneedling or laser treatment.
There are limited widescale studies into the efficacy of PRP therapy for cosmetic reasons, and only small studies have been carried out to show its effectiveness in the treatment of wrinkles and hair loss. There is evidence that it works to promote healing, which is why it is used for sports injuries, scar treatments and in combination with other treatments like microneedling.
This Glowday Treatment Guide has been edited and medically verified by Roisin Hopkins.
How do vampire facials work?
PRP therapy utilises your own blood to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars and crepey skin.
Your blood will be taken, and the platelet-rich plasma will be harvested. This component of the blood contains proteins called ‘growth factors’.
When injected into target areas or applied to skin that has been intentionally injured during treatments like microneedling, these proteins increase cell renewal and repair. They also increase the volume of healthy skin cells and cause them to migrate to the site of injury, helping to plump up the skin.
Additionally, they help stimulate fibroblasts to increase the production of thicker collagen fibres (the scaffolding of the skin). They also stimulate pre-adipocytes (precursors to fat cells). This is good news in the face, as the loss of fat pads in the cheeks is one of the key reasons for skin laxity and sagging.
Production of hyaluronic acid in the skin is also increased. This acid improves the skin's moisture levels, stimulates cell actitvity, has antioxidant properties and plumps and smooths the skin.
PRP therapy is typically used on the face, particularly around the eyes, mouth and nose. It can also be used on the backs of the hands and the décolletage to rejuvenate skin.
What are the benefits of a vampire facial?
Vampire facials are appropriate for all adults and skin types. They improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars and crepey skin.
PRP therapy can also be used to help treat hair loss in men and women.
How do you prepare for PRP therapy?
1 week prior to your PRP facial, you should avoid taking NSAIDs.
Other than that, there are no specific steps to take - unless you are combining PRP therapy with microneedling or laser treatments.
It is a good idea to arrive at your appointment with thoroughly cleansed skin and no makeup.
What will happen during a PRP therapy treatment?
Step One - Consultation and Consent
It is important to understand that, whilst PRP therapy is not a prescription-based treatment, choosing a medically qualified practitioner is best since blood will need to be drawn from your arm. Medically trained practitioners will also use medical needling devices that penetrate deeper into the skin than non-medically qualified practitioners.
Step Two - The PRP Treatment
What happens during your treatment depends on whether you are combining PRP therapy with other complementary treatments or not.
Step Three - Repeat Treatments
Improvements in your skin will be visible within a few weeks.
Depending on the advice given by your practitioner, you may be advised to book a course of treatments - usually 4-6, at least 8 weeks apart. Alternatively, a specific maintenance programme might be recommended.
What should I do after a vampire facial?
Avoid the sun
Avoid sunscreen immediately after
Use collagen-stimulating peptides
Use ‘active’ skincare products (such as retinols, AHAs and acids) until recommended by your practitioner - usually 5 days post-treatment
Use makeup for 24-48 hours after treatment
Do strenuous exercise - sweating can enable bacteria to enter the channels created during the treatment
What are the side effects and risks of PRP therapy?
Your skin is likely to appear red and feel more sensitive post-treatment. Your skin may feel tight and uncomfortable. Any swelling, itchiness and redness should subside within a few days.
Additionally, because the injections contain your own blood products, there is less risk of an allergic reaction. There is a risk of infection, however, so using a medically qualified, appropriately trained practitioner is essential.
PRP therapy is unsuitable for anyone who has:
A blood-borne disease such as Hepatitis C or HIV
Prescribed blood thinning medication
Open cuts, abrasions and wounds
Active cold sores or skin infections
Keloid or hypertrophic scars
Poor wound healing
How much does PRP therapy cost?
PRP facials should only be carried out by fully medically qualified practitioners. The cost of your treatment will vary depending on the treatment and location.
As a guide, you should expect to pay:
£300 PRP therapy injections
£550 microneedling treatment + PRP facial
£700 PRP + filler facelift
£450 PRP hair treatment
All information in our Glowday Treatment Guides and blog articles is intended for reference and information. The information given here is to help you make informed decisions when considering the wide range of non-surgical aesthetic treatments available.
It is NOT intended as medical advice. Any reliance placed by you on the information contained within the Glowday Treatment Guides, Glowday blog articles or on any of Glowday.com is done by you at your own risk.
Before undergoing any non-surgical cosmetic treatment mentioned anywhere on Glowday.com, you should fully consult with an appropriately qualified and accredited practitioner who is properly trained in and fully insured to conduct the treatment you are interested in. Neither the author of the guides or blog articles, or the practitioner who has verified the guides nor Glowery Limited can be held responsible or liable for any loss or claim arising from the use or misuse of the content of Glowday.com.