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I’ve worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, and while you want to try everything firsthand, sometimes you don’t have the time or the concern needed to try certain treatments. That’s why I sent Hannah McGhee, our senior business director, to try PRP—otherwise known as the “vampire facial.”
McGhee told me that she had fine lines under her eyes that she was becoming more and more aware of. She said, “I looked at more radical treatments like Botox and filler, but a family friend told me about PRP. I’d mentioned how she looked really healthy and glowy and she attributed it to the treatment. Of course, I jumped online and did my research, and, once I knew more, I liked the idea because you’re injecting your own natural product rather than a filler or toxin.”
What IS PRP?
PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) is a biostimulation treatment that injects your own isolated platelets (which are components of the blood that contain growth factors) back into the skin. This stimulates cells in the skin to produce new collagen and elastin and to speed up the healing of wounds.
Read on for a full PRP treatment review, and learn how it can target fine lines and wrinkles.
What Is PRP?
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, and it’s found in our blood. According to a study conducted by The American Society of Hematology, it plays “a critical role in tissue repair and regeneration.”
"Platelet-rich plasma is prepared by concentrating one’s own blood to isolate platelets and growth factors in serum," explains Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist practicing at New York's Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. "When injected into the skin or applied topically in conjunction with microneedling, PRP can reverse signs of skin aging, like wrinkles, by stimulating collagen and elastin production and promoting skin regeneration."
Here's how it works: First, blood is drawn from the arm. Roughly two vials are needed to gather enough PRP to cover the whole face, so if you hate having your blood taken (like I do), then this probably isn’t the treatment for you. The vials of blood are then placed in a centrifuge, which spins it 3,050 times per minute, separating the PRP from the rest of the blood. The PRP is then injected all over the face to help rejuvenate the complexion—tackling everything from fine lines to sagging to acne scarring to skin texture. It’s often used in conjunction with Botox or fillers to improve the appearance of the complexion.
Benefits of PRP
- Stimulates collagen production
- Improves skin texture and tone
- Increases speed of wound healing
If the process of PRP scares you, we're confident the benefits will win over your heart. Since PRP addresses a myriad of concerns, it seems like a one-stop-shop for addressing practically every skin problem we encounter. According to London-based aesthetic doctor David Jack, these treatments can thicken and lift areas of the skin, promote collagen and elastin production, and speed up wound healing. "The biostimulation basically uses your body's own responses to the treatment to produce the desired result," Jack says.
The best part? The benefits are near-immediate—though continued use means they amp up over time. "You may notice an immediate improvement from the injection of fluid, which can plump the skin and temporarily soften fine lines, but the real results from PRP develop over time in several months," says Murphy-Rose. "Long term results vary widely. When used in combination with botulinum toxin injections results can be expected to last for years."
What to Expect from a PRP Treatment
McGhee visited Jack's office on Harley Street in London for PRP. She's taking over below and dishing about how the treatment went down.
I had the consultation and treatment on the same day. I liked Dr. Jack because he gave me a really good idea of what the outcome could be: a natural result. You don’t do PRP and walk out looking like you’ve had fillers. I opted for a course of three treatments (most people have two or three spaced roughly two to four weeks apart). Then you would just go for a top-up every six months after that.
He applied anesthetic cream to my face, and while that got to work, he drew blood. It went into the centrifuge for 10 minutes. He then injected the PRP all over my face. I could feel that the pricks were happening, but I didn’t feel any pain; it was just a little sensitive in more delicate areas like around the eyes. I would definitely advise against having the treatment if you’re hungover or on your period and feel a bit more sensitive. The injecting took about five minutes—super quick.
How To Prepare for a PRP Treatment
Before going under the needle, Murphy-Rose advises keeping a few things in mind. "To prepare for treatment, it’s best to avoid alcohol and medications that affect platelet function like blood thinners or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (i.e. aspirin or ibuprofen) if not medically necessary and to talk to your dermatologist about any medications you take," she says.
According to experts, PRP treatments are pretty risk-free. Though they do warn that bruising may occur since needles are involved. "There is typically minimal downtime after PRP procedures," says Murphy-Rose. "Side effects vary among patients and include temporary redness, bruising, discomfort, tenderness, and swelling. There may be superficial peeling of skin several days after treatments, which is a natural part of the healing process. It is important to continue hydrating your skin well and to absolutely never pick the peeling skin."
I left the treatment room and did look quite red, but I was able to apply makeup after a couple of hours and I could go on with my day as usual. Exercising after was also fine. After the first treatment, I did get a little bruising around one eye, but I wasn't alarmed. It was nothing that a little concealer couldn’t cover. Within a couple of days, I felt like my skin was really glowy and I got compliments from colleagues saying just that. When I went back for the second treatment, it dawned on me that not only had the lines softened around my eyes slightly, but more noticeable was the improvement in my acne scarring, which was far less visible.
The Final Takeaway
I had two more treatments but definitely noticed the biggest improvement after the first treatment, so I would say book one and see how you get on. I would definitely book this again in the winter months when my complexion needs a pick-me-up.
PRP is not cheap. It’s priced at $575 (£450) per treatment with Dr. Jack, but it works. The treatment addressed the really fine lines around my eyes. I’m okay with having some lines but wasn’t keen on the crepey texture, which didn’t feel age-appropriate. This sorted that out, which was great. The biggest surprise was definitely the reduction in acne scarring, which I feel has made my whole complexion look brighter and more youthful.
Looking to treat acne scarring and fine lines for less? Shop our favorite at-home products below.
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If you’re a fan of Elemis’s cult Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, then this will be a no-brainer. For everyone else, this eye cream is focused on smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. It’s packed with amino acids that support the skin in renewing itself; antioxidants to protect the delicate eye area; and a cocktail of vitamins (think chlorella and blue-green algae) that firm and smooth.
This naturally acidic exfoliator aims to dislodge pigmented cells while you snooze, evening out skin tone and prompting your skin to start rejuvenating itself. It’s designed to be mixed with your regular serum and should be applied every night. If you use it for two weeks and then give your skin a break for a few days, it will work more effectively. You can also use it as a mask on dry skin for 10 minutes if you aren’t into commitment.
A concentration of vitamin C between three percent and 10 percent will be most effective, and this product contains the latter. This serum repairs sun-damaged skin and delivers a cocktail of antioxidants to protect it from free radicals. Its ingredients also encourage cell turnover so that brighter, healthier skin that lies beneath can be revealed.
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Gawaz M, Vogel S. Platelets in tissue repair: control of apoptosis and interactions with regenerative cells. Blood. 2013;122(15):2550-4. doi:10.1182/blood-2013-05-468694