It’s been a decade since Kim Kardashian introduced the Vampire Facial to the world via a blood-covered selfie. In the years since, the not-as-painful-as-it-looks procedure has exploded in popularity, so naturally I jumped at the chance to try it out — and get my own bloody selfie, too.
The minimally invasive treatment harnesses “the natural healing ability of your own body,” celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Robert H. Cohen explained to me ahead of my appointment. Also known as the PRP — short for Platelet-Rich Plasma — Facial, it works by combining micro-needling and plasma, extracted from the patient’s own blood, to stimulate collagen and elastin growth.
The results can include plumped up skin, improved hyperpigmentation, smaller pores, diminished acne scars, and a better overall glow. But be warned — this is not an immediate fix. It takes at least a month to see any changes, and a series of 3 treatments, spaced 4-6 weeks apart, is a must if you want to really reap the benefits. Of course, some lucky people do get results after just one treatment, and I couldn’t help but hope I’d be one of them.
In an attempt to cut down on the chances of bruising, I prepped for my PRP facial by taking arnica pills and avoiding alcohol for three days before. Once I arrived at the office, Dr. Cohen slathered my clean face in numbing cream so the micro-needling wouldn’t hurt. Next, he drew three vials of blood from my arm and put them into a Sci-Fi worthy machine that spun the blood in order to separate out the platelet-rich plasma.
Once the numbing cream had kicked in, Dr. Cohen began using a hand-held device to micro-needle my entire face, which took about 15 minutes. I have a low tolerance for pain so, despite the numbing cream, there was definitely some discomfort. To get through it I focused on my breathing — and the fact that each prick of the micro-needle was building better skin by triggering my body’s wound-healing response, which in turn would stimulate collagen and elastin production.
After the facial needling was complete, Dr. Cohen applied the platelet-rich plasma, aka my own blood, all over my face. Thanks to the micro-needling, instead of just sitting on the top layer of my skin, the growth-factor-packed plasma penetrated the deeper layers. Next, he injected some of the plasma under my eyes to supercharge my results and smooth my under-eye bags. This wasn’t painless, but if you’ve had filler injected you know the discomfort is over in less than 10 seconds.
Since the plasma must stay on your face for at least 3 hours after the procedure, I left the office looking like an American Horror Story extra. When I finally washed my face later that night it was bright red, like I had a sunburn. It felt warm and tight, but there was no pain. The pain came the next morning when I looked in the mirror. My face was swollen, with bruises forming under my eyes. I was not expecting to look so rough, and I quickly grabbed some ice packs to try and calm the swelling under my eyes. I work from home, so aside from a quick trip to the grocery store, complete with dark sunglasses, I stayed in for 3 days and avoided wearing makeup to give my skin the best chance at healing.
To help speed up the recovery process, I was told to stay away from strenuous activities or anything that can increase blood flow to the treated area for the first 48 hours after the treatment. I happily skipped my workouts, but by day three I was anxious to get the endorphins flowing. Although my redness was mostly gone, the swelling and bruising under my eyes was still noticeable. Turns out that’s totally normal after getting PRP injections under the eyes, so I piled on some concealer and rejoined the world with a sigh of relief.
It took about two weeks for the swelling under my eyes to go away and by the third week my friends started to comment on my glowing skin. And now, 6 weeks after getting the treatment I can see my overall texture has improved and the lines are less noticeable around my eyes. I love that nothing, but my own plasma was injected into my face and I’m looking forward to seeing even more improvement as time goes on. If money was no object, I’d get this done a few more times to really, well, suck up the full results.
Cost ranges from $800 – $2,200 per treatment, depending on your provider’s level of expertise.