What is PRP?
PRP is “Platelet Rich Plasma”, and PRP can be extracted from your blood. Your blood consists of four main constituents: red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and Platelets. If we take a blood sample from you, we can filter out the red cells and white cells from the plasma. Within the plasma filtrate, we can identify the area with the most platelets and use these to your benefit. Platelets are involved in wound repair and injury. When there is an injury, platelets are attracted to the site of injury where they start releasing their contents to help tissues heal and repair. PRP, therefore, contains some plasma concentrated with platelets.
What is a vampire facelift?
A vampire facelift is a term that has become popular, and it describes what we’re doing when we use PRP for facial cosmetic improvement. The reason the term has become popular is because we take a blood sample inject the blood back into the face (even though we remove the red cells which would cause excessive bruising). Blood contains PRP and we inject the PRP into the face, rather than the whole of the blood.
The science behind how PRP can help rejuvenate the skin
The science behind PRP is very interesting. PRP contains growth factors. Growth factors are necessary for wound healing, repair and inflammation. These processes are important for tissue regeneration. It is thought that by injecting PRP into the skin, we are injecting growth factors into the skin. Since growth factors heal tissues, we think PRP will rejuvenate your skin.
Platelets are cell fragments that circulate through your bloodstream. When platelets are made aware of injury, they stick to the site of injury and they release the chemicals that are stored within them. These chemicals include: PDGF (Platelet Derived Growth Factor), TGF-beta (Transforming Growth Factor Beta), FGF (Fibroblast Growth Factor), IGFs (Insulin-like Growth Factor types 1 and 2), VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor), EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor), Interleukins, KGF (Keratinocyte Growth Factor), connective tissue growth factor, and possibly other growth factors too.
When growth factors are released, this leads to a cascade of activity which leads to cellular and tissue repair. It is thought that this will lead to skin rejuvenation when injected into the skin.
How is PRP injected and delivered into the skin?
The process of PRP injection takes about an hour from start to finish. We first take a blood sample from you. We take the equivalent of one syringe full of blood and withdraw this into a test tube. We place the test tube in a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood and separates it into its constituent parts. The centrifuging process takes 15 minutes. While we’re waiting for the centrifuge to separate the blood sample, we apply cream to the area being treated. We usually apply EMLA or LMX cream to the cheeks, eye region and sometimes the neck and forehead. With one blood sample we can treat the cheeks and with two blood samples we can treat the full face.
Once the centrifuge has separated the blood components, we are able to see the test tube with two different parts. There is a red part that contains the red blood cells, there is a separation gel, and there is a clear straw coloured fluid called plasma. At the bottom of the plasma layer, there is a “buffy coat” layer and this contains most of the platelets and white blood cells.
The platelets are extracted from the test tube and are made ready for injection back into the skin. At this point the skin has been anaesthetized by the topical anaesthesia and this allows us to inject the PRP with relative comfort. PRP is injected in tiny quantities into or just under the dermis of the skin, depending on the thickness of the skin, and we often see a small bleb of PRP in the skin when we inject it. There can be some slight bruising after the procedure, and it usually takes a couple of weeks to settle. If there is bruising, it can be covered with mineral makeup.
How long before I see improvement after PRP injections.
Since PRP is thought to rejuvenate the skin internally, we see results over the course of a few weeks. Initially, there is a youthful swelling caused by the procedure, and this subsides over the course of a few days. As the weeks go by, the growth factors start to work in the skin and we think the skin is made thicker, with greater amounts of collagen, elastic fibres, and hyaluronic acid laid down in the dermis. There is an increase in the blood supply to the skin as vascular channels open up, and all these processes together help to rejuvenate the skin internally.
The procedure can be repeated a few times after a few weeks, initially. Once we see the maximum results, we can maintain treatments every few months.
The above was a guest post by one of our contributing experts Taimur Shoaib.