The Vampire FaceLift® is a trademarked, minimally invasive facial rejuvenation procedure that involves the injection of a patient’s own blood components as well as one or more dermal fillers. The name brand technique was developed by Charles Runels, MD, as a variation on Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. This version of the facelift is now available from many cosmetic surgeons who have been trained in the procedure. The treatment is designed for patients who are beginning to see:
- Minor skin laxity
- Dull skin tone
- Uneven skin texture
- Loss of tissue volume
It is not a substitute for a surgical facelift because it does not remove sagging skin. Instead, it works by stimulating the deeper skin layers to create new tissue.
How Does the Vampire FaceLift Work?
The basic idea is to combine two cosmetic treatments to create smoother skin that has fullness and a rosy glow. First, hyaluronic acid filler is injected as it would be for a standard dermal filler procedure. The areas treated depend on the patient’s perceived problem areas. These may include the forehead, cheeks and nasolabial folds (creases that run from the nostrils to the edges of the mouth). The filler helps plump up fine lines and wrinkles immediately and preps the area for injection of the platelets.
The next step is to harvest a test tube full of the patient’s own blood. This sample is spun in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from the platelet-rich plasma. The red blood cells are not used. Instead, it is the plasma that is re-injected into the patient’s face just under the skin using one or more very fine needles. This serum contains human growth factor that is believed to stimulate the stem cells that already exist in the patient’s skin to start growing new dermal tissue. Over time, this tissue growth may include:
- Collagen to plump up and tighten the skin
- Tiny blood vessels to give the skin a rosy glow (but no sparkle!)
- New epidermis that has a smoother texture
Variations on the Vampire FaceLift
Each cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist may have a slightly different way of doing this procedure. Some use a single fine needle to inject the filler and serum. Others use a tool such as the dermapen that makes many tiny holes at once to cause micro-injuries and further stimulate the skin to heal itself. The choice of fillers will also vary depending on the results the patient wishes to achieve. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is the standard since it attracts and binds water molecules under the skin for fast results. But other products such as Radiesse (hydroxyapatite) may also be used for deeper lines to help rebuild lost collagen. Some practitioners use the serum alone with no fillers. This may be a beneficial option for patients who have an adverse reaction to commonly used dermal fillers.
Results of the Vampire FaceLift
The difference from the injected dermal filler is usually noticeable right away. The rejuvenation from the activity of the blood serum and stem cells takes a couple of months to deliver results. The improvement is subtle, giving the face a slightly more youthful appearance without any dramatic changes in the facial contours. The hyaluronic acid filler wears off after about six months. Other fillers may last longer. The results of the PRP therapy may be evident for several years, although the longevity of results hasn’t been established.