There has been a lot in the press this week about the use of Platelet Rich Plasma (otherwise known as PRP, the vampire facelift or Dracula therapy) as an anti-ageing treatment. Unfortunately much of it has been both negative and incorrect.
I’ve been working with PRP for over five years, and pioneered its use in the UK. I’ve performed over 600 procedures and have lectured and taught doctors worldwide. So I’d like to set the record straight.
I’ve previously explained how the treatment works, but now I’d like to correct some of the things I’ve seen in the press since Kim Kardashian posted a photograph of her face covered in blood.
It’s not gory
Yes, PRP does use your own blood, but it’s not gory, painful or dangerous.
I take a small amount of blood – only 20ml – that’s about the same amount as a blood test. I then place it in a centrifuge in order to separate out the red blood cells, platelets and serum.
The serum this creates will be a pale yellowish/clear liquid. I then inject this plasma back into whichever area requires treatment. And it’s the platelets that are important here – as they release growth factors, which stimulate healing, skin repair and regeneration.
The needle I use is very fine – the ones I’ve seen in press photographs this week have been pink, which indicates a thick needles which is not suitable for this procedure. I also apply an anaesthetic cream before I begin injecting.
It’s not painful
Done correctly, this is a relatively painless procedure. Your face may be a little tender, but often patients return to work afterwards. Certainly by the next day they have no soreness or bruising.
Take a look at this video of me performing PRP on a patient – as you can see, there’s no blood on her face and she is perfectly relaxed!
You don’t need the treatments very often
The Sun reported that ‘patients are advised to have three treatments at four-to-six week intervals.’ This is not correct. Treatments twice a year would be sufficient to maintain the results.
It’s not a new treatment
The existence of growth factors was first discovered by Dr Stanley Cohen and Dr Rita Levi-Montalcini in the 1950’s, this discovery opened the doors for PRP, and they were subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize for their work.
More than 3,000 medical studies have since been published proving its effectiveness.
These days PRP is used in various fields of medicine including dental, orthopedic, eye laser surgery, plastic surgery, heart surgery and, most commonly, to treat sports injuries.
The fact that the injections are autologous (from the patients own blood) with nothing added means the use of PRP on sportspeople does not contravene anti-doping regulations.
In summary, this is not a new procedure, but one with medical substance.
Note: There are many names for what is essentially the same treatment. PRP (which stands for platelet rich plasma), S3, self-stimulated serum, vampire therapy (as it’s often called in the USA) and dracula therapy – a term my team and I came up with as a joke – which stuck.
If you have any questions on this treatment, please get in touch, it’s better to ask an expert than believe what you may have read in the press! You can reach me via email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DrDanielSister.