BLOOD SUCKING, BLOOD LETTING …
AND THE QUEST FOR THE ELIXIR OF ETERNAL YOUTH
Seems like all things vampire are all the rage at the moment; what with books and films like the “Twilight” series, TV programmes like “The Vampire Dairies” and “Trueblood” and now the latest catch phrase … the Vampire Facelift … but as this name has now been trademarked in the USA, we shall, from now on, call it Procedure-X.
So what exactly does Procedure-X, or more correctly Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Dermal Rejuvenation treatment, have in common with vampires? Well, in all honesty, not much, but I can see where one can draw some parallels.
Firstly, PRP treatments involve taking 10-20ml of the person’s blood, pretty much the same amount as one would need for your normal, routine check-up blood tests. So no major blood-letting there, and unless the person drawing the blood is a total sadist, the pain factor should be quite minimal, just like a gentle vampire “nuzzle” ( I tend to prefer the romanticized versions of old Dracula movies rather than the rip-your-throat-out horror movie genre).
Secondly, the blood is collected in special tubes with a specific anti-coagulant and a cell-activator and then centrifuged (spun off) to separate the red blood cells from the plasma and platelets. And here is pretty much where all parallels end, since I don’t recall ever seeing a vampire doing Cocktail-style “umbrella drinks” with their meal … unless it was some really dodgy Art House movie …. Or was it just one of my dreams?
Thirdly, the separated PRP is then re-injected into the person’s dermal layer to fill fine lines and wrinkles and kick-start the skin’s own rejuvenation process, leaving on with a hopefully eternally youthful look, just like our blood-sucking “friends” I guess.
So what exactly is PRP?
PRP treatments in various guises have been used in a wide range of surgical and medical disciplines, from autologous fibrin “glues” in cardiovascular surgery, to degenerative and traumatic tendinopathies in orthopaedics, to bone implants and bone regeneration in dentistry.
Platelets have been deeply studied and discovered to have more functions that just purely aiding the clotting process.
Platelets play a role in clotting, healing, storage and transportation of hormones and in defence. And it is the healing function that interests us the most. Platelets contain and release Platelet Derived Growth Factor (PDGF), Transforming Growth Factor (TGF), Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) , Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) and Insulin Growth Factor (IGF).
All these factors are essential elements in stimulation and proliferation of fibroblasts and keratinocytes, which then produce collagen and keratin ( the back-bones of the epidermal “scaffolding” essential for a smooth complexion).
PDGF’s have a significant role in new blood vessel formation (which in turn promotes better blood circulation with resultant improvement in skin tone, texture and colour) , the cellular division of fibroblasts (the most common cells in connective tissue), and in synthesizing collagen( the anti-wrinkle element) and the extracellular matrix, including hyaluronic acid, our natural “filler”, which has been shown to increase skin tone and volume( all of which become more depleted with age), thus providing a more youthful appearance.
So by injecting all these autologous (i.e. our own) stimulators of healing back into the dermal layer of the face, neck , hands, scar tissue, acne scars or chronic wounds, we are essentially stimulating the body’s own natural ability to heal/renew itself , and by putting this healing process it into a mild overdrive , we can halt or even reverse the intrinsic factors responsible for skin ageing.
Does it work?
Well, there are some amazing results and there are some disappointed clients too, although I think this has most likely to do with possibly misguided or misinformed client expectations. The older the person, the slower the response; heavy sun exposure will continue to damage even the most well treated skin; and moderate to heavy smokers and drinkers will never show good results as the negative effects of their “habits” out-weight the potential positives of PRP treatments.
This procedure will never replace conventional surgical facelifts, the quick-fix results of fillers, nor that of Botulinum Toxin treatments, that is not its aim.
PRP treatment’s aim is REJUVENATION: to restore or enhance areas which require volume and to improve skin texture and tone. Results can be noticeable within three weeks and improvement continues for the next 8 months as more collagen and keratin is laid under the skin; the results can typically last 2 years or longer, and frequency of treatments depends on the initial condition of the client’s skin, the areas being treated and results expected.
So would I do it, I hear you asking? Well, the big Four O is looming … it’s all natural … and I have always had a soft spot for Vampires!!