Is a blood facial bloody good for your skin? We tried one to find out

Zola Zingithwa went in for a platelet-rich plasma treatment similar to the 'Vampire Facial' made famous by Kim Kardashian. She gives us the lowdown

20 February 2019 - 10:18 By Zola Zingithwa
During a platelet-rich plasma treatment, vials of the patient's blood are put into a centrifuge, which rapidly spins the blood to turn it into platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected back into the patient's face.
During a platelet-rich plasma treatment, vials of the patient's blood are put into a centrifuge, which rapidly spins the blood to turn it into platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected back into the patient's face.
Image: 123RF/luchschen

A platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment, or Vampire Facial, as is trademarked by Charles Runels in the US, was made famous by Kim Kardashian (naturally) when she shook Instagram with a post of her bloodied face. 

So when I was offered the opportunity to try a PRP facial, I was intrigued. Was I going to come out of the doctor’s room looking like a vampire, with blood spouting out of my pricked face? Would I be swollen beyond recognition? Was I going to be as red as a tomato? Joking with that last one - I’m black, after all.

Here's how my skin reacted to the treatment:

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

Internet tips included drinking lots of water and arriving with a freshly cleansed face.

The doctor’s recommendation was not to use anti-inflammatory medication or topical creams for two to three days before the treatment.

Kim Kardashian after getting a 'vampire facial'.
Kim Kardashian after getting a 'vampire facial'.
Image: Kimkardashian / Instagram

Medication with aspirin in it should be stopped a week before treatment - with the approval of your doctor.

BREAKDOWN OF THE PRP PROCEDURE

On arrival at Anti-Aging Art, led by Dr Reza Mia, I was made to feel welcome and at ease. First, I signed the run-of-the-mill declare-your-illnesses-consent form, while sipping on a beverage of my choice.

Mia’s assistant then put numbing cream on my face. The doctor came in at this point to draw two vials of my blood to put into a centrifuge, which rapidly spins the blood to turn it into platelet-rich plasma, which looks nothing like blood.

I was left to my own devices for about 25 minutes to allow the numbing cream to take effect and the centrifuge to do its job, after which Mia began the treatment. He injected my face from the forehead, all around my cheeks, chin, around my eyes and nose and even the edges, which was a little painful. Fortunately, it lasts only a few minutes.

This is my platelet rich plasma extracted from my blood. Yes, that apparently came out of my body and it can even be turned into a topical serum to take home.
This is my platelet rich plasma extracted from my blood. Yes, that apparently came out of my body and it can even be turned into a topical serum to take home.
Image: Zola Zingithwa
My face being numbed with a cream.
My face being numbed with a cream.
Image: Zola Zingithwa

I should have taken a picture of myself at this point because this is when your inner vampire makes a brief appearance. The Kardashian flare for the dramatic is all that selfie was because Mia immediately cleaned my face and put on the gel that seals the injection sites and assists with the healing process. You should not wash off this gel until the following day (unless you want your face to feel like it’s burning from those hundreds of pricks).

Afterwards, I took a selfie and nothing looked different from when I came in. No blood, no tiny holes on my face screaming that I just had a PRP facial. We were done.

Other than not washing my face until the morrow, I was warned to stay out of the sun and to avoid excessive exercise for 24 hours. I could apply make-up 12 hours after the procedure.

Yep, that was that.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

Immediately afterwards my face felt fine but slowly my skin started tightening. As I continued to selfie-document my face, my forehead looked a little wrinkled with the pores visible. My face felt dry and stiff.

Me looking like my normal self after the facial
Me looking like my normal self after the facial
Image: Zola Zingithwa

When I got home, I felt light-headed and needed to nap – perhaps because of having blood drawn while I was feeling a little under the weather.

The only difference I felt the rest of the day was that my pimples were dry and I felt no urge to pop them, or fiddle with my face in any way, which I do a lot.

DAY 1

After washing with my normal skincare products, a full 24 hours after the procedure, my face looked normal. I had two new outbreaks but my face didn’t feel dry or strange in any way.

DAY 2

Again nothing out of the ordinary about how my face looked but my breakouts prior to the procedure and the new ones seemed to be drying faster than usual.

DAY 3

My face looked like it always does, meaning the dark spots were still there and pimples were still flourishing. One in particular was testing my resolve to #StopPopping.

FINAL REVIEW

Was it worth it? Well, a full three days after the treatment I can’t say my face has changed much, other than that my pimples seem to be drying out faster than normal and the treatment has helped me to resist popping them. My face also seems more hydrated.

It is recommended that you have a second facial two to three weeks after the first and thereafter get them three times a year to get the best results. However, Mia says he recommends different procedures to different patients, based on their particular skin concerns. In my case, he would recommend a deep-peel treatment, rather than another PRP procedure.

I would, however, go back for an individual, focused service rather than a general skincare regime as the overall experience was professional. 

• This article was first published by S Mag, a must-read lifestyle magazine sent out with the Sowetan newspaper. Visit the SowetanLIVE website for more S Mag stories.


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