Have you heard of the famous Vampire Facial? If you keep up with the Kardashians at all, you probably remember the picture of Kim’s blood-covered face that went viral years ago. That was a Vampire Facial. So what is a Vampire Facial, exactly, and does it actually use blood?
Below, we attempt to answer the most frequently asked Vampire Facial questions, with some help from two doctors familiar with the treatment: Dr. Soroosh Mashayekh of Irvine Wellness and Cosmetic Clinic and Dr. Tali Arviv of Arviv Medical Aesthetics.
A Vampire Facial is a type of facial treatment that incorporates platelet-rich plasma (PRP)—a serum made from the client's own blood.
To get it, doctors take blood from the client, then place the vial of blood in a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood until it separates, isolating the red and white blood cells from the plasma, an amber serum rich in platelets. "If it's a little hazy, you might have some other stuff floating around [in it], and you can spin it again to maximize your serum," Dr. Arviv says.
The doctor then reintroduces this PRP serum into the client's skin in two ways: by direct injection or microneedling. (Many treatments include both methods.) The microneedling device opens tiny holes in the skin so that once the plasma is smeared on the face, it penetrates deeply. To minimize discomfort, a numbing cream may be used.
Technically, Vampire Facial is a trademarked name, and PRP facial is a generic name (much like Kleenex is a trademarked name, and tissue is a generic name). Although they shouldn’t, people often say Vampire Facial when they mean PRP.
Whether you get an official Vampire Facial or not, it will follow the same steps listed above. The only thing that will vary is that an official Vampire Facial will include Altar, a special cream that the Vampire Facial creator says helps repair the skin barrier.
Microneedling creates tiny holes in the face so the plasma serum created during the Vampire Facial can penetrate deeply into the skin.
The blood is taken from your arm, much the same way your doctor would draw blood during a checkup.
Benefits include firmer, younger-looking skin, softened wrinkles, improved skin texture, and softened acne scars.
"Platelets have growth factors," Dr. Mashayekh explains. "These growth factors, reintroduced into the tissue, will stimulate collagen production over time." Collagen is a protein that's most concentrated in young people's skin, and it's part of the reason their skin looks firm and supple.
As Dr. Arviv puts it, collagen gives you "more volume, [and] when you have more volume, you're also getting a tightening aspect."
That increased collagen production also helps plump up fine lines and acne scars, as well as improve skin texture.
PRP injection treatments have been used in sports medicine for years because of the way the growth factors can speed up the healing process. The injections are also used to treat hair loss as the growth factors can help with hair growth, hair count, and hair thickness.
During a Vampire Facial, doctors draw blood from your arm, and then place the vial of blood into a centrifuge to separate the blood cells from the platelet-rich plasma. This plasma serum is then applied to your face.
For Dr. Mashayekh, the answer depends on the treatment area's size. "If we are doing smile lines, for example … I usually draw around 1 ounce of blood." For larger areas or a full-face treatment, he'll draw 2–3 ounces.
Not every practice is the same, though. Dr. Arviv draws less blood: at most 8 milliliters, or a quarter of an ounce, for a full-face facial plus targeted injections into wrinkles or deeper lines, like the nasolabial folds. Treatments for smaller areas require even smaller amounts.
Vampire Facial cost can vary from practitioner to practitioner, with cost ranging anywhere from $900 to $2,500 per treatment. The average cost is about $1,500.
Of course, you can always search our website for great deals on Vampire Facials near you. A recent search in major metropolitan areas such as Chicago and New York found PRP facials for as low as $199.
This article was originally written by Groupon staff writer Mae Rice in 2016. It has since been updated.