What Is a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Facial?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on April 28, 2022
4 min read

As we age, we notice many changes in our bodies. Many obvious changes take place in our skin. Do you have wrinkles and facial lines that you want to get rid of without surgery? Well, the vampire facial or plasma-rich protein (PRP) facial may be your answer. It triggers collagen production and, via micro-needling, it improves skin tone and texture.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facials became popular with plastic surgery because of their role in wound healing. PRP has a high concentration of platelets. which allows for the formation and release of growth factors and active proteins that promote healing. It is widely used in facial skin rejuvenation. 

PRP facials are not cosmetic procedures, but rather medical procedures. The person doing the procedure takes a sample of your blood and isolates the protein-rich plasma and platelets to create the PRP.

A centrifuge is spun around to extract protein-rich plasma. The platelets are also removed. The sample is then concentrated and called platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The high levels of growth factors in the PRP help the body to heal. Dermatologists began using PRP to promote the growth of collagen. Orthopedics inject PRP to heal joints of the knees, ankles, and elbows.

The full effect of PRP facial treatments appears in a few weeks to months. PRP is given to enhance someone's appearance, so the cost is not covered by medical insurance. In the U.S., it is estimated that the treatment sessions can cost from $250 to $1500 apiece.

There are different ways to get the PRP facial. In the first option, the plasma is spread on your face, after which micro-needling across the forehead and cheeks helps the face absorb proteins. Microneedling is a procedure that makes a series of superficial, tiny holes using sterile needles. Both the micro-needling and the PRP stimulate collagen growth.

The second option is called the vampire facial. This includes having the plasma injected into the skin like a filler. The original skin problem is attacked twofold – beneath the skin and on top of it. There is not a lot of research concerning the effectiveness of vampire facials. One study did reveal that participants who received PRP injections in one cheek and saline in the other saw improvements in the PRP-injected cheeks.

The PRP facial can be beneficial to people who have wrinkles, sun damage, or scars. By placing PRP back into the skin, cell proliferation is encouraged. This leads to an increase in elastin and collagen production. As a result, the skin will look tighter, fuller, and smoother.

In the areas with deeper wrinkles and lines, the doctor may also choose to use hyaluronic acid fillers or neuromodulators. These are Botox®-like wrinkle relaxing injections. Fillers restore the volume to the face that is naturally lost with aging. Facial muscles are kept from contracting by the neuromodulators. The neuromodulators help to reduce lines that occur from muscle overuse. This is inclusive of crow's feet surrounding the eyes. These products can be used together to treat the whole face.

The PRP procedure appears to be safe, but dermatologists are still researching. There may be some pain, swelling, or bruising after the procedure that goes away in a few days. The problems can come from how blood products are handled. They must be kept sterile to prevent infection. The facility of choice should use the same process as transfusion centers to make sure the PRP made from your own blood is used. .If you receive the wrong blood, you could become ill.

PRP is deemed safe for most people, but it is not recommended for people with these medical conditions:

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Any type of blood cancer
  • Skin cancer in the area to be treated
  • Hepatitis C
  • Cardiovascular diseases that require blood thinners 

The above conditions impact your platelets, so they cannot produce the expected results of PRP treatment. 

If you choose to have a PRP facial, you will have to get your blood taken. You will also have some pain and bruising post-operatively from the micro-needling. The procedure is safe for most people, excluding those with clotting conditions that need blood thinners or other blood-related health issues. When your skin is very loose or has a lot of sun damage, simple treatments may not give you the improvement in appearance expected. Surgery will yield better results.

For those who get the vampire facial, the best results occur after a series of treatments given 4 to 6 weeks apart. Maintenance procedures may be needed in the future. It is important that realistic expectations are set for non-invasive procedures like PRP facials. It is not the same as a facelift, so the result will not be the same. A doctor's referral can help you to decide which procedures are best for you.

Besides the temporary redness, inflammation, and bruising, side effects of the facial are limited to human error via the medical professional. The facial involves drawing blood and pricking the skin, so serious complications like infection, scarring, and bleeding can occur. The real threat from PCP facials occurs when the person doing the procedure does not handle the equipment properly, properly store needles, or dispose of products correctly. The PRP facial equipment needs to be sterile to reduce the risk of contracting blood-borne illnesses.

If you choose to have a platelet-rich plasma facial, precautions can be taken to protect yourself by going to a licensed medical provider or plastic surgeon. Properly trained medical professionals are the only ones that qualify to legally and safely perform the procedure.

Immediately after the facial, most people will feel well enough to drive home. Resuming normal activities can begin the next day. The skin should be protected by sunscreen and reduced exposure to sunlight during recovery.