The Vampire Facelift was made famous by Kim Kardashian when she posted a pic of her face covered in blood. Since then this procedure has truly taken the world by storm, and Dr Caroline Taylor Walker from Medical Skin Clinic in Torquay says it’s one of their most popular treatments. I sat down for a chat with Dr Caroline and she was kind enough to answer all our questions about it…
Trish: Hey, listeners. Well, I’m here today with Dr Caroline Taylor-Walker, and Dr Taylor is the director owner of Medical Skin Clinic in Torquay in Victoria. Today we’re going to have a bit of a chat about PRP, platelet rich plasma, vampire face lift, all that sort of stuff because everyone asks about that all the time. That’s just going to be nice have a talk to someone that can answer all of our questions. Welcome, Caroline.
Dr Caroline: Yeah. Thank you, Trish. Hi.
Trish: Thanks for joining us today.
Dr Caroline: No problem.
Trish: Tell us, PRP, what actually is it and tell us how you guys use it in your clinic?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, sure. PRP stands for platelet rich plasma and basically, it says what it is on the tin, really. We basically extract the platelets from plasma, which is from the blood. The whole idea behind that is that the platelets are very rich in growth factors and something called cytokines, which are fantastic in healing and stimulating the healing process in the body. It’s seen as a way to rejuvenate and stimulate new cell growth, and the theory behind that is that it then can help improve things like your complexion, the skin texture, and restoring loss of facial volume.
Trish: Right. When it’s actually taken or when a client comes in to have it done, so the first thing you do is you draw blood from them.
Dr Caroline: Yeah. Yeah, when they come in, we usually start off by numbing the area that we’re going to treat, so typically, the areas that we treat are around the eyes or we can do the whole face or any areas that the patient has concern about. The other area that we can do is in hair, so hair loss as well. Once they’re having the numbing cream on, we then take a sample of the blood. We do that exactly the same as how they would have a blood sample taken at the lab if they we’re having a blood test for say their cholesterol or something, so it’s nothing different to that.
Then, that blood sample we put in a little centrifuge, so that’s a little machine that spins the sample at a high speed and that spinning process along with some little gels within the blood sample tube separate out the platelets from the plasma and the red cells in the blood, and the platelets are then of a really high concentration, so about three to five times that of physiological levels. It’s a like a straw gold colour, so we call it like our gold juice, and that is what we then inject back into the patient into the areas of concern.
Trish: Okay. When you say you inject it back in, so say someone wants to get something like eye bags, would it work kind of for eye bag areas? You just like-
Dr Caroline: Yeah. What we do, it’s actually one of the only treatments that we really have to treat the eye area, so we’re actually able to inject the platelets right up to the eyelashes themselves, both on the upper lid and the lower lid. What we do, yeah, we just use a really, really tiny needle similar to an insulin needle, so very, very tiny thin needle and we just literally inject it just underneath the skin all the way around the bags up to the eyelashes in any other areas that the patient is concerned about that might have high wrinkles or skin textures or scarring, anything like that really.
Trish: Okay, and because just the thought of going so close to my eye would totally freak me out, so you go right up to the lashes?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, right up to the lashes, yeah, and it’s actually reasonably comfortable because you put the numbing cream on there and we use such a tiny needle, it doesn’t disturb the patient. We just get them to close their eye and obviously they can feel some stuff happening, but it’s not uncomfortable at all.
Trish: Well, that’s good. Well, it’s good that they’re not uncomfortable.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Trish: Tell me, if someone had really dark circles under their eyes, could this help with that?
Dr Caroline: I won’t guarantee that. The dark circles actually is probably like trying to treat the common cold. I think everyone’s looking for a way to treat dark circles, and once somebody gets that, then they’re going to make a million out of it. It’s generally more for skin texture, I suppose, so around that area, if you’ve got a lot of wrinkles, the skin has become thinner, you feel that you need rejuvenation in the area, then it will help with that.
The dark circles, we’re not 100% sure why they’re there. We think it might be due to fluid retention sometimes or it could just be genetics or vessels underneath the skin, so I wouldn’t ever guarantee anything that we have that exists at the moment within in our industry is going to help with their dark circles, but I can certainly rejuvenate the area.
Dr Caroline: I’d say we’re quite limited in that area. There’s not many things that we can do. We struggle with laser. We can’t really do Botox or filler too much in those areas, so it’s nice to have something that we can actually use and it’s something that’s natural, really.
Trish: Yeah. I really like the idea because I think there is a little bit of a trend of going away from the non-natural treatments, and of course we still want anti-aging, so the PRP seems to be the perfect solution because you’re using your own blood, your own plasma, your own platelets to actually put back into your skin. You’re saying it increases or activates the collagen to start with and puts it on steroids. Is that kind of like what you mean that it works?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, so yeah, it’s really nice because it’s using your own body’s natural ability to heal and rejuvenate, to yeah, improve your own skin texture. Normally, we use something unnatural to fill or to stop muscles working or something, but we’re actually using our own body’s natural power. What it does, the platelets, they stimulate something called grey factors and cytokines in the body, which is part of the normal body’s immune reaction and immune system, which stimulates healing and increases the healing response and also stimulates new cell growth. All of those together help to improve their complexion, skin texture, restore volume loss.
Trish: Yeah. I remember when Kim Kardashian had the vampire face lift, so it’s pretty much like the vampire face lift. Your face looks all bloody because you just get … Is that right? Does it look all bloody or is it not too bad?
Dr Caroline: No, no, no, no, so you can do it in two ways. What she basically had done is the PRP was obtained, and then that was probably just put on the surface as a face cream or something is, and then over the area, skin needling was done. Like skin needling in any procedure, the skin needling can cause little pin prick blood spots. The idea behind that is when the skin needle causes little holes in the skin’s surface, the PRP can sink down those tiny little holes and cause the response that they’re supposed to do, so we can do that. We can take the PRP, put it on the surface, and needle over the area.
The way that we use it the most, though, is we actually just inject the platelets underneath the skin as well, so similar to if somebody had a filler treatment done or a skin booster treatment done, we’re just injecting it underneath the surface, so yeah, you don’t look like you’ve had blood poured over your face at all. Actually, the platelets themselves are a gold colour, like a straw gold colour, so it’s not like we’re injecting blood or anything. It’s actually quite pleasant.
Trish: With the injection, how many would you do? I know you draw the blood once, but if you put the needle in the face, how many different spots? I suppose it’s on the areas that will be treated?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We do that according to the area that we’re going to be treating, so obviously if there’s a larger area, we’re going to do more injection points to cover the area. The needles that we use, as I said, are quite thin and quite small, so that does mean that we have to do a few more to cover the area. Yeah, there’s lots of injection points, and that’s why we use the numbing cream really to make that more comfortable.
Trish: Yep, yep. All right. A few years ago, I had done what they called the angel facelift, which is like she drew the blood from me and then she centrifuged it and then she got a cotton ball and she put it on my skin. I can’t remember if she did any needling, but all I can say is my skin felt amazing. I don’t know what it did, actually. It just got rid of all the crap off my face and my skin just felt amazing for weeks. It was just soft like a baby’s bum. I wish I had remembered what she did, whether she did some needling afterwards, because she might’ve.
Dr Caroline: Yeah. I’ve not heard of that, actually. I have to, yeah, look it up and see what actually occurred, [inaudible 00:09:48] as well.
Trish: Yeah. She just called it the angel facelift as opposed to the vampire. It didn’t hurt at all. The biggest hurt at all was just drawing the blood, but the rest didn’t hurt.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot of time, the platelets can, yeah, people can just put them on the skin. When we’re doing it with the needles, if there’s any of the platelets that do just drop on the skin, we rub it in. We don’t want to waste any of it. You can put it on the skin and massage it, a bit like putting a cream on the face. Some of that would diffuse into the skin, but we just want to get it further down, so either you then needle over the top to really try and push it down or we just inject it straight into the point where it’s required to do its job.
Trish: What else can you use it for? You mentioned hair loss.
Dr Caroline: Yep. Generally, within I suppose aesthetic industry, we use it more for skin rejuvenation, but we can also use it for hair loss, so normally more of the androgen hair loss, so hair loss that occurs due to hormonal changes most typically in men. The best time to start using it is when their hair loss is first starting, so what we hope is that the cell producing the hair is still functioning and we just stimulate its function. Once the hair’s gone for a long time, then the cell just isn’t there anymore, so we obviously can’t reproduce the new cell. It’s actually just stimulating the production that’s there, so yeah, the first signs of balding, we can start using it there, both in male and females.
It can be used for wound healing as well, so if people have got an ulcer or a wound that’s not healing very well, and then within general medicine, it’s used a lot in injuries, so typically more orthopaedic things, so sprains and tendon problems, arthritis, and things like that.
Trish: Yeah. Actually, I was booked in to get my knee done. I had something happen to my knee and it went stupid, and I was suggested I go and have some, I think it was called platelet rich plasma, or PRP injections, and yeah, I was booked, and as it turned out, it got better before I had to go, but same thing. It’s the same thing. It’s like stimulating the body’s natural response to make that a little bit better.
Dr Caroline: Yep. One way I try to explain it to people I think people understand it a little bit more is stem cells. It works very similar to stem cells, so you’re just, yeah, stimulating new growth, but using the platelets.
Trish: Yep. Fantastic, so hair loss, facial rejuvenation. Anything else that you guys do there with PRP?
Dr Caroline: No. We can use it in the joints, like more the orthopaedic things, any joint problems or tendon problems or wound problems, as well. We use it for that, but yeah, just generally the skin and the hair loss are the main reasons.
Trish: All right, and so how long would a treatment take? It’s not going to be something that, I don’t think you pick up the phone and say, “I want to have some PRP,” and book in, so you have to come in for a consult first? How does it work?
Dr Caroline: Yeah. Most things, we always recommend a consult first because a lot of times, people find it very overwhelming, the amount of cosmetic treatments and aesthetics things that are out there, and each one of them, we like to individualise to the person really. I suppose we’re the ones with the knowledge that are able to give that advice, so sometimes people would like something, but actually they’re not [crosstalk 00:13:33]. Yeah, they might be a candidate that actually, there might be something better for them. We do prefer to have people come in and have a chat to us about their concerns first and us to go over things that would work specifically for them, and again would work in their budget or give them the best bang for their buck kind of thing.
Generally, procedures, we book in for about an hour. During that hour, as I said earlier, we’d initially put some numbing cream on. Whilst that numbing cream is working, we would then take a blood sample and centrifuge it, and then once that’s done, we’d remove the numbing cream and then put the injections in the area of the face that we’re treating. Generally, it roughly takes about an hour by the time you come in the room, sorted everything out, and left.
The main thing about planning it is the downtime. It can cause some swelling. Obviously, we are injecting a solution, so that solution itself causes some swelling, and then you get the response of the body of having an injury I suppose in the area. Most people, that day that we’ve done it, it can feel quite hot and swollen, and then the next day is the biggest time of the swelling normally when they wake up. That swelling can last a couple of days and for the rest of the week, it eases down. We usually say the downtime is a good week of first few days of the swelling being there and then the swelling gradually reducing. There’s also a little chance of some little bruises where we’ve gone in with the needle, which of course happens with any procedure when you’re using a needle. There’s a risk of a little bruising to come up. It’s really just that downtime of the swelling.
Trish: All right, so it’s not [inaudible 00:15:15] procedure, so you go and have it done, and then if you’re working somewhere, when do you recommend you can go back to work?
Dr Caroline: Yeah. It more, again, depends on what you don’t mind people seeing you look like. There’s some clients. We’ve got one client who has this done quite a lot actually, and she works at a reception desk, and it doesn’t bother her at all, so she just has it done and goes to work the next day. She’s swollen or bruised. It doesn’t worry her, and she feels it’s a bit of a talking thing. I think her customers now get excited to find out what she’s been having done.
Trish: What she’s had done. I love it.
Dr Caroline: Yes, and then other people, if they just have one tiny bruise that they see and other people don’t even notice, that’s enough for them not to even want to leave the house. It really does depend on the person, but I’d normally say the main are the first probably three to four days after the procedure. If you don’t want anyone to know you’ve had anything done or you feel uncomfortable with any swelling, the big thing with any swelling, then yeah, plan it to maybe have some time off work or do it on the Thursday so you can have the weekend off work or something.
Trish: Yeah. I was just thinking that, do it on a Thursday, got Friday, Saturday, Sunday. By Monday, you look gorgeous.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, or if you’re then concerned on Monday, at least you can call in sick on a Monday, but it doesn’t take a week.
Trish: Yeah. Awesome. I was going to ask as well, oh, what was I going to ask? It was right on the tip of my tongue. Is it an expensive process, and is it a maintenance thing? Should you do it every so often? Is there a recommended treatment time?
Dr Caroline: Yep. What we normally recommend is three treatments, and they’re done one month apart as a starting point, and that’s stimulating the process and keeping the skin in that growth face of producing the new cells, and then we recommend that it’s done about once a year.
Trish: Okay. That’s not too bad. Actually, it’s like a lot of treatments. You do three first, bang, bang, bang, and then you have a regular maintenance thing.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, most of the time, yeah. For most things, it’s the three. Again, it does depend on the purpose. If I saw a young person in their early ’30s with some small changes, I might say you only need one or two and then do it annually and maybe someone older, you’d suggest maybe three or maybe a fourth one. Each time, we see somebody, and then a month later, we’d obviously assess them from that point again so we can give them advice whether they actually only need one more or maybe need a couple more, just review it as we go along.
Trish: Yep. I think you guys offer so many modalities there that it could be a combination. It could be have this combined with this and it would definitely be individualised anyway.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, because we had someone the other day, they were mid 30s and they’ve had some PRP done before. That’s when they wanted that, because they were getting good results with the fine lines on the top of the skin, and their skin texture and a bit of volume, but we also wanted to really stimulate their collagen and look into the tightening of the skin everywhere on the face.
When they came in, we initially did what we call our launch time laser procedure, where it’s a purely collagen-stimulating laser treatment that doesn’t cause any damage to the surface of the skin. It just acts on the deep layer of the skin to stimulate the collagen, so we did the laser treatment first, and then we did the PRP on top of the skin.
Trish: Oh, nice. Was she happy with the results?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, it just really bruised everything up. Yeah, that one we only did a couple of weeks ago, actually, so we’ve not seen her back again yet for the actual results. The results take time. With all these procedures, with anything that when you’re stimulating cells, you’ve got to be patient. The results will really be seen from about six months to 12 months down the line. It’s one of those scenarios that if you did it now and continued with it, in three years time, you would look younger than you did now rather than something like an injectable and filler that in three weeks, you see the result.
Trish: Yeah, got it. Also, one thing I find as well is you might not see results straight away and you think, “Oh,” and then about six months down the track, you see results, and then you think, “Oh, I think I’m due again.” You think, “Oh, hang on. I think I need that again because I can see now what it did.” Sometimes you’ve got to wait for that hindsight, don’t you?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, yeah. It’s definitely something that takes a little bit longer to kick in, and then you start, yeah, seeing the benefits and then you want it again.
Trish: Yeah, of course. Do you guys offer packages?
Dr Caroline: Yeah, so most of our things, we do do that. For example, if there’s three treatments and if you pay for the three treatments upfront, then I think it’s about 15% off that you get. We do that on all our treatment things, whereas obviously if you just had the one treatment, you just pay the one cost. For this treatment, we charge about $450 for a treatment, for one treatment. Yeah, if you bought three upfront, you get about 15% off of that.
Trish: Okay. That’s pretty good.
Dr Caroline: It’s really good.
Trish: I thought they were a whole lot more than that, to be quite honest.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, no, it’s pretty good. If you think of the volume, usually with the PRP, when we get the bloods, we get about eight mils of platelets to use, whereas think if you used a filler, a dermal filler, you would pay minimum $400 to $800 for one mil of a filler, whereas with the platelets, you get about eight mils for the 450. You get a lot more product to use, so you can usually treat a lot wider area.
Trish: Yeah, and people get feedback, and it’s natural.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, and you get the long-term benefit of it, as well.
Trish: Yep. Oh, that’s great. That’s been so interesting, because I’ve known about PRP for a while, but I’ve never really sat down and asked anyone a whole lot of questions that I would want to know myself. Now, I’m actually going to have some done really, really soon. I can’t wait. I’ve been waiting for fillers in my face to just go away because I want to go in with clean skin, so I’m trying to detox everything, yeah, detox from the filler so that I can have all the natural stuff. Why not? It’s out there.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, definitely, and using them all together, they each have different roles. Often you do need a bit of filler to really build that foundation under the skin or a bit of structure and the platelets to work more on the finer areas of the skin and the skin quality.
Trish: Yep, yep. This has been great. Well, thanks heaps for the time today, having a chat with us. That’s been really, really helpful.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, it’s been great.
Trish: Lovely. Listeners, if you’re wanting to get PRP, definitely don’t overpass Medical Skin Clinic at Torquay in Victoria. You can Google them or you can otherwise drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Caroline.
Dr Caroline: Yeah, not a problem. Thank you very much.
Trish: Thanks. Bye.
Dr Caroline: Bye.