The sight of blood has always made me queasy. Once, when I was about 12, it also made me faint. I like to think that now that I’m all grown-up, I’m stronger and less impressionable, but the truth is that I’ll always be a wimp who recoils at the sight of blood. Even fake blood! I have to watch most True Blood and Game Of Thrones episodes through my fingers!
So, I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would be willing to take some of their blood out and reinject it back, after it’s been separated with a centrifuge, into their face in the name of beauty (although, if Eric Northman were to perform the procedure, I might actually consider it, ahem. )
This creepy treatment is called Selphyl, platelet-rich plasma injections, or, more commonly, vampire facelift. According to the Vampire Facelift website, the procedure is supposed to promote “collagen growth and long-term skin rejuvenation,” thus helping treat wrinkles and improving the texture of your skin. But is that really true? How can blood do that?
What’s in my blood?
Human blood consists of two main components: blood cells and plasma. Plasma is a yellowish liquid which contains nutrients, proteins, hormones, waste materials and a lot of other stuff. Floating in plasma are the three main types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells, which give blood its colour, transport oxygen around your body. White blood cells are part of the immune system and defends your body from diseases. Cell platelets are a lot less famous than the other types of blood cells, but not less important. These small, irregularly-shaped cells help the blood clot. They also contain growth factors and proteins that help repair and regenerate tissue.
How a vampire facelift is made
If you decide to have a vampire facelift done, some blood will be drawn from your arm. This blood will then be inserted into a centrifuge, a machine that can separate all the blood components by density. The red blood cells are the densest, so they sink to the bottom and are then removed from the solution. What’s left is a two-layer solution: a small layer of white blood cells and platelets and a bigger one of plasma. The resulting solution is called platelet-rich plasma. To this, calcium chloride or thrombin is added. Finally, the gel is injected into your face.
Because all the red blood cells are removed from the final solution, the colour of the gel isn’t red but yellow. We’ve all seen the creepy pictures of Kim Kardashian and other celebs and models slathered in blood. That’s not what happens at all, but hey, why let something as trivial as the truth get in the way of a good advertisement (I’m being sarcastic here, obviously)?
Do vampire facelifts work?
Because of its growth factors content, this platelet-rich plasma, could potentially promote the growth of cells and accelerate the healing process in the injected areas. Because this is such a new procedure, not many studies have been done to prove (or disprove) its efficacy yet. One, conducted in 2010, showed that it can improve the appearance of deep nasolabial folds. But whether it is effected in those areas target by the vampire facelift, such as the hollows of your eyes, remains to be seen.
Is the Vampire Facelift safe?
The vampire facelift is said to be gentler than other derma fillers that promote cell growth too because there’s little chance of lumping or migration. Also, there’s no chance of rejection. Like all fillers, though, it can cause bruising and swelling.
The Bottom Line
Although relatively safe, there isn’t yet enough convincing scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of the vampire facelift. But even if there were, I’d frankly rather invest the money in a well-formulated retinoid serum that can stimulate collagen production and improve the texture of my skin without the need to inject anything, let alone my blood, into it.
Have you tried the vampire facelift? What do you think of it?