Hope to minimize your facial lines and wrinkles? If you don’t want surgery, you’ve got other options.
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One new approach, the plasma-rich protein (PRP) facial, combines plasma and platelets from your blood with other rejuvenation techniques.
“It triggers collagen production,” explains plastic surgeon J. Vicente Poblete, MD. “Collagen is the ‘latticework of the face,’ so a PRP facial helps tighten, smooth and improve skin tone.”
Here’s what you need to know about PRP facials (sometimes called blood or ‘vampire’ facials).
Creating platelet-rich plasma
PRP facials are medical, rather than cosmetic procedures. Your medical team first takes a small sample of your blood.
Then they spin it in a centrifuge to extract protein-rich plasma. Next, they extract platelets. Finally, they concentrate the sample, creating what is called platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
While dermatologists recently started using PRP to stimulate collagen production, orthopaedic doctors have injected PRP to heal injured joints — typically ankles, knees and elbows — for many years.
It is the growth factors in PRP that help the body to heal.
What happens during treatment
The medical team first spreads plasma on your face and then uses microneedling across your cheeks and forehead to help your face absorb the proteins.
Microneedling is exactly what it sounds like — a procedure that creates a series of tiny, superficial punctures using sterile needles.
“Both PRP and microneedling stimulate collagen growth, and are more effective when done together,” explains Dr. Poblete says.
“We attack the problem in two layers: beneath the skin and on top of it.”
Enhancing the result
For facial areas with deeper lines and wrinkles, the medical team may also inject hyaluronic acid fillers and Botox®.
The fillers help to restore volume that the face loses naturally with age, while Botox keeps facial muscles from contracting.
Botox can help reduce dynamic lines that form from muscle overuse, such as the “crow’s feet” around the eyes.
“We can use all of these modalities so that, acting together, they treat the whole face,” Dr. Poblete says.
If you decide to have a PRP facial, prepare to have your blood drawn. You can also expect some pain and slight post-treatment bruising from the microneedling.
For best results, you will need one or two treatments about two months apart, he says. You may also need additional maintenance procedures as time passes.
Overall, most patients notice better skin tone, skin-tightening and volume after these treatments, he says.
What you should know
The PRP procedure is safe for almost everyone, except for those with clotting conditions that require blood thinners or those with other blood-related health issues.
Dr. Poblete also stresses the importance of setting realistic expectations for the results of nonsurgical treatments like PRP.
“If you expect the same results as a face-lift, that won’t happen with this treatment,” he says. “When you have a nonsurgical procedure, you are going to get nonsurgical results.”
It’s best to ask your doctor’s help in deciding which treatments are likely to provide the best results for your skin.