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Vampire Facelift: Can Blood and Plasma Really Erase Wrinkles?

With movies, books and TV programs serving up vampire-themed entertainment, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see this cultural obsession being used in marketing a unique facelift procedure called “selphyl” or the “vampire facelift.”  What makes this procedure stand out among its predecessors is that it involves using blood.  The surgeon takes blood from your arm, separates it and then injects it back into your face.  Practically pain-free, it’s an in-office procedure that can be completed in 30 minutes.
From a surgical standpoint, it’s really not a facelift but a cosmetic procedure that uses cosmetic fillers like Juvederm and Restylane with components of your blood.  Basically, vials of your blood are placed in a machine called a centrifuge and spun at a high speed.  During this process, the blood separates the red blood cells from the plasma or platelet rich plasma.  Platelet rich plasma is the ingredient in your blood that immediately stops bleeding and allows your body to heal quickly.  FDA-approved for use in orthopedic surgery, many professional athletes receive injections of PRP for tendonitis, tennis elbow and arthritis.

PRP Versus Injectable Fillers

As its use in cosmetic procedures increases, it’s quickly replacing injectable fillers.  While injectable fillers may initially provide volume, PRP actually stimulates cell growth for long-lasting results.  The Vampire Facelift®Procedure® website reports that patients can achieve a youthful look without invasive surgery and a long recovery time.  With hyaluronic acid fillers, like restylane, it restores volume to the face eliminating creases and wrinkles, increases blood volume and skin appears smoother.  Public interest in the procedure is also growing.  It’s been featured on “The Rachael Ray Show” and “The Doctors.”
But not everyone is on board with this ghoulish procedure, Dr. Phil Haeck, the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, is troubled by the lack of research proving the efficacy of Selphyl.  While research is limited on the subject, there is one restrospective, no-placebo study published in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery where 50 patients were injected with their own platelet-rich plasma one to five times and then assessed 9 months later.  Of the 50 patients, only 1 felt dissatisfied with the procedure. Until there is proven clinical research of the efficacy of Selphyl or vampire facelifts, many consumers may just have to be satisfied with testimonials from actual patients.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Dracula (1931 film)

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