By: Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
People like Kim Kardashian have been sucked into a skin trend that involves injecting your own blood into your face.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, sometimes called the Vampire Facelift, has been creating waves in the media and beauty industry in the past few years, primarily because of the prolific number of celebrities trying the treatment, including Kim Kardashian.
With PRP, your own blood is used to heal, regenerate tissues and build collagen. This treatment modality harnesses the healing power of platelets – components in the blood that initiate and regulate tissue repair – and growth factors from blood to stimulate a stem cell response. These stem cells help you to grow new collagen and blood vessels, repair and regenerate damaged skin, and help slow the signs of ageing.
PRP started its long history in orthopaedic medicine, dentistry and reconstructive surgery. Now, doctors have discovered its healing and regeneration properties can also be used in cosmetics to stimulate skin rejuvenation.
The ageing face
As we age, we experience a loss of volume and skin laxity that results in common complaints, which include:
- Volume loss in the cheeks
- Dehydrated skin
- Crow’s feet
- Lip and frown lines
- Acne scarring
- Deep depressions around the nose and mouth
- Sagging around the jaw line
- Overall loss of healthy, youthful skin texture and tone
The face becomes triangle-shaped as the skin and fat begins to flatten with gravity. A poor diet, smoking and sun exposure all cause oxidative stress, a key component of the ageing process, that appears as fine lines, hyper-pigmentation, unevenness of skin tone, sagging skin and advanced wrinkling.
PRP addresses these problems – it is a skin regeneration therapy that uses the patient’s own blood to boost the natural healing power and repair the cells. The growth factors, when released, induce the production of collagen and generation of new capillaries to rejuvenate the skin. It has the advantage of a longer duration of efficacy compared with injections of hyaluronic acid and collagen that are absorbed into the body.
PRP treatment is a quick 30-minute treatment. It involves removing a vial of the patient’s own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge to separate out the red blood cells, plasma and platelets. This plasma (the clear, liquid part of blood) now contains a higher than normal number of platelets, nearly five-fold. This PRP is injected into the problem areas around the skin in tiny needles.
It takes a few weeks for the cells to repair and renew, increasing collagen formation, skin tightening and overall skin rejuvenation. Now, doctors are applying the technique to other problem areas, including helping with hair loss by using PRP to stimulate hair follicles.
Who should have PRP?
As it is a completely natural treatment, there’s no risk of allergy, infection or rejection. It can be done at all ages, on all skin types. The treatment is ideal for individuals looking for gradual but noticeable improvement in skin texture, tone and colour with minimal downtime. It gives you a fresher and healthier appearance without looking frozen or overplumped, without aggressive surgery, chemicals or toxins.
The treatment rejuvenates saggy skin, reduces fine lines, eye bags and neck wrinkles, and helps with any acne-scarring. PRP is effective particularly for crinkling skin under the eyes that are difficult to treat by conventional rejuvenation therapy.
Like all cosmetic treatments, it requires a few treatments for best results – with most doctors recommending three treatments, one month apart. Top-up treatment can be done once or twice every year. Noticeable results will be seen around the three-month mark and will continue as new collagen production continues.
Results are variable from person to person, but in general could last 12 to 18 months. PRP uses the patient’s natural biology to address skin defects and volume loss, triggering production of new cells and collagen formation.
Thus, PRP therapy is very promising in facial restoration. Results are optimal when patients receive a combination of PRP with microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser therapy, dermal fillers and Botox to accelerate and sustain the benefits of PRP.