PRP: Platelet Rich Plasma (with some Microneedling)
Updated: Feb 11
This week we are going to delve right into PRP! We love a good facial treatment and for years a version of this treatment option has been around making people swear by its effectiveness. Recently, there have been many other variations to this procedure including PRP with direct injection versus micro needling. You have all heard of the vampire facial right? And we have all seen that instagram photo of Kim Kardashian with her bloody face right? But who knows why people do this and how it's so effective? Also, what it is used for exactly? Well, that’s why you have us… to give you all the goods including some personal experiences!
What is PRP you might ask?
Well, PRP literally stands for platelet rich plasma which is a cosmetic procedure that can either be done topically or as an injection to improve wound healing, assist with scar removal, reverse aging, help with acne, etc.
PRP is done by basically taking your blood from a vein like you would for any regular blood work, usually taken from the arm. The blood is then put into a centrifuge machine that separates the plasma from the other components of the blood. You don't need to know the science behind this but, what you are left with is a yellowish type color which is just the plasma component of your blood. This plasma component contains a bunch of nutrients and that is what is used on your face. This plasma can either massaged into the skin, injected into the skin or used over microneedling like at the same time or to use it after the initial microneedling like a lotion or serum which allows for deeper penetration of the PRP treatment!
Let’s take it one step further: The Microneedling and PRP Combo
This is such a popular combination right now but here's the reason why. So, microneedling is used for reducing aging (for age spots and wrinkles), in assisting with scars and also with hyperpigmentation but depending on your skin type this might not always be the right regimen for you. I have heard of people breaking out from this treatment (hey there are risks with everything and not every treatment option may be effective for you, so if you are willing to try than that is up to you). Either way, it is an effective tool depending on how your skin reacts to it of course. So just know that for some people, this helps with acne but in other situations it can actually cause breakouts. If all else fails, we recommend trying it or doing a trial on your hand sort of like a patch test to see how your body reacts to it.
We will talk about microneedling more extensively in a different episode but we wanted to quickly explain what it is. It is a roller with needles that come in different depths that are used to lightly prick the skin. The logic is if you cause minimal damage to the skin you stimulate the body to produce collagen which will then work harder to heal and protect the skin. If you want to get the fancy terminology it is called the collagen induction therapy!
In this process when you use these two modalities or treatments together the PRP can help decrease the duration of redness and swelling after microneedling but, it may also help boost the effects of microneedling like we talked about before.
So what is the Vampire facial then? It literally refers to doing the microneedling procedure and then putting the PRP on your face topically thereafter, to help soak all the plasma into your skin.
I have seen people do all different types and let's just say all people walk out looking different from one another. No one experience is exactly the same. Some look like they got hit by a bus and others well.. they aren't as irritated. Just be open minded when doing these kinds of procedures lol.
Who shouldn’t use this? People who are highly sensitive. So if you know that your skin gets easily irritated we would recommend against using this unless they wanted to initially try this on their hands, neck or other body part you're comfortable with LOL.Those who are pregnant, or who have recently been on accutane, people who currently suffer from acne or certain skin conditions like eczema or rosacea, if you have any history of easy scarring or poor wound healing, and undergone skin radiation in the last 12 months this is not the product for you at this time.
As is the case with everything else your physician will go through your entire medical history to determine if this is a treatment that may help you. It usually costs around $750 per session depending on where you go of course, but microneedling alone without PRP will be less, around $300. To get the full desired effect, you will likely need more than one session that you want to do every month for a total of about 3-6 sessions. That means that the total cost will run you anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000. Beauty is expensive and beauty is pain. We already know this.. but if you will waste money on adding extra poison to your face and bodies why not waste it on something that is a more natural alternative to beauty?
Before your appointment every doctor will give you their own instructions but at the very least some of the things you want to live by include: avoiding the sun, wearing SPF weeks before the appointment and after. You want to stay hydrated (we’re always recommending this so this should be a no-brainer by now!) You know, hydrated skin for the win! Come to the appointment with a bare face (in case you were wondering that means no makeup and no moisturizer). Just wake up, wash your face and head on over. Bare faced is key!
When you arrive, we will make sure your face is completely cleansed and then we will apply a topical anesthetic likely, lidocaine. This takes about 15 to 30 minutes to take effect so you want to time door to procedure time accordingly. The procedure itself is pretty quick and takes about 30 minutes. Any physician doing this should be using a professional grade derma roller or an FDA approved one. You may do it all over the face or target specific areas depending on the plan you and your physician came up with. The most popular one is the microneedling with PRP combination which is why we stressed it in this episode.
After the procedure sometimes your physician may use a serum or a specific balm to help soothe the skin and assist with redness or any irritation. This is usually a hydrating moisturizer, vitamin C or a combination product. Also based on the patient’s preference different products can be used. Some people put on makeup immediately after but personally we do not recommend this. Try to keep your face free of any other chemicals that day.
After all of this you head on home... we hope… and let the effects take their own course. You may have some minor irritation and you want to apply as little products as possible to your face. Typically, we would recommend to take the rest of the day off and let your skin absorb all the beauty effects! You should cleanse once a day and moisturize as needed especially, if you’re not wearing makeup. You can use a lightweight foundation to minimize redness but again if you can do not use anything. We also encourage you to use products that help with skin recovery and different physicians will give you recommendations or even samples of some of their products.
You should see results within a few days to up to a month. Likely, you will need maintenance sessions usually about a month apart and you want to avoid skipping sessions. Remember if you have some unusual side effects after the treatment to call your doctor immediately. For example, if you notice a lot of bleeding, swelling or signs of an infection brewing go seek immediate medical attention!
Now for our Secret Tips of the Week
#1. Avoid alcohol based products and exfoliants during the recovery stage
#2. Use SPF and avoid the sun.. that should be obvious by now but even we need a reminder
#3. Avoid vigorous activities that cause excess sweating or heat production until completely healed (say goodbye to Barry’s bootcamp... for a little while)
Note: This is because sweating can irritate the skin and can actually worsen swelling or bruising (so avoid anything that can cause this for at least 3 days after your treatment)
#4. Schedule a consultation first to discuss the procedure and ask any questions. Don’t forget to do your own research as always about the product you’re using and don’t shy away from second opinions
Potential side effects and complications include the more common ones we usually discuss like bruising and inflammation. Swelling and redness usually show up right away but go away completely within the first week. You want to avoid other skin treatments for the most part and no matter what you do, please DO NOT pick or rub your face after these treatments. Really you shouldn’t do it at anytime, but we know that can be hard. (You can do what I do and have a sticky note on your mirror as a constant reminder to not pick your face lol). At the very least, promise us that during this time you won’t touch your face because you are more likely to cause permanent scarring.
Rare complications include infection and scarring. Infection is rare because you are using your own blood (so cross contamination or infection is unlikely when your own blood is involved). If you have a history of herpes or cold sores you can have an outbreak from having this procedure but this is something that should be mentioned during your history so it can be explained to you.
Remember, there is also the at home microneedling kits that we talk about on this episode. There is a limit of the depth that is approved for these at home rollers. It should help with scars and cellulite so you can roll it on whatever body part you'd like (like, on the backs of the thighs, etc.). Make sure you keep these items clean and take caution that you are not going too deep. It gives us a little tingling or irritated feeling I would say. If you are concerned about making an error then head straight to the experts and avoid using any deep penetrating rollers at home.
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