People who are interested in improving the appearance of their skin have no shortage of facial treatments from which to choose. If you follow celebrities on Instagram, you may have heard about something called a platelet-rich plasma facial. It is a treatment in which platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is drawn from your blood and applied to your face. Kim Kardashian posted a picture of herself trying the treatment in 2013, which helped popularize the concept.
Covering your face in blood may seem like an extreme way to rejuvenate the skin. But platelet-rich plasma facials may provide some dermatological benefits — helping smooth the skin and minimize the appearance of wrinkles and scars for a more youthful look. Most individuals can safely have a platelet-rich plasma facial. However, it’s important to understand the risks so you can make an informed decision. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Platelet-Rich Plasma Facial?
A platelet-rich plasma facial involves applying a sample of the patient’s blood to the face, usually after micro-needling or microdermabrasion. Rather than applying the blood immediately, the medical professional performing the procedure first isolates protein-rich plasma and platelets from the sample to create PRP.
Although PRP facials have recently become popular as a topical treatment, medical professionals began using PRP injections to treat injured joints years ago. It is believed to help accelerate the body’s own growth and healing processes. Instead of a facial, you may also choose to have PRP treatment on other parts of the body affected by scars or stretch marks.
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How Does a Platelet-Rich Plasma Facial Work?
In a platelet-rich plasma facial, the growth factors present in PRP work in combination with micro-needling or microdermabrasion to stimulate collagen production. Collagen is a major protein that makes up the connective tissues in the body. By encouraging the body to produce collagen and generate healthy skin cells, PRP can reportedly improve skin tone, texture, and fine lines, although more research is needed.
Many providers now provide PRP facials. A typical treatment will usually involve three main steps:
- Preparation: Before the facial can begin, your provider will first need to isolate PRP from your blood. Using a needle, they will draw a small amount of blood from your arm. They will then spin the blood sample in a centrifuge to help separate the platelet-rich plasma from the rest of the blood. If your treatment includes micro-needling or microdermabrasion, your provider will also apply a topical anesthetic at this time.
- Microneedling: Once the anesthetic has taken effect, your provider will use a special roller or device to prick the skin. This stimulates collagen production and creates small punctures to allow the PRP to penetrate the skin.
- Application: Finally, your provider will apply the concentrated PRP to the treatment area and massage it into the skin.
You may need multiple treatments to see the effects of a platelet-rich plasma facial. It may take several weeks for visible results to appear.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Facial Recovery Time
Immediately after a PRP facial, you may experience some redness and irritation. This usually clears within four to six days. Most people feel well enough to drive home after the procedure and resume normal activities the next day. To help ensure a smooth recovery, your provider may ask you to avoid wearing makeup and using harsh skin treatments for a while. You should also protect your skin by wearing sunscreen and avoiding excessive sun exposure during this time.
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Risks and Side Effects of a Platelet-Rich Plasma Facial
Aside from temporary redness, bruising, and inflammation, the side effects of platelet-rich plasma facials are limited when performed by a qualified medical professional. Because the procedure involves drawing blood and puncturing the skin, more serious complications like scarring, infection, and excessive bleeding can occur. You should not get a PRP facial if you have a history of blood clotting disorders, bleeding disorders, or other blood diseases.
The real danger of a PRP facial occurs when the person performing the treatment fails to use proper needle storage, handling, and disposal procedures. The equipment used in a platelet-rich plasma facial must be sterile — otherwise, you risk contracting serious blood-borne illnesses like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The risk of blood-borne illness also means platelet-rich plasma facials should never use someone else’s blood.
In 2018, the New Mexico Department of Health shut down a spa performing platelet-rich plasma facials after the facility put clients at risk of infection. If you want to have a platelet-rich plasma facial, you can protect yourself by only going to a licensed provider or plastic surgeon. Only a medical professional has the qualifications to perform this procedure safely and legally.
Contact UPMC Pinnacle to Learn More
When performed by a qualified professional, platelet-rich plasma facials may provide the cosmetic benefits you’re looking for. If you have questions about platelet-rich plasma facial safety, we encourage you to consult your provider or primary care physician. To learn more or schedule an appointment at UPMC Pinnacle, contact us today.
Featuring Johanna P. D’Agostino, MD
About UPMC Pinnacle
UPMC Pinnacle is a nationally recognized leader in providing high-quality, patient-centered health care services in south central PA. and surrounding rural communities. UPMC Pinnacle includes seven acute care hospitals and over 160 outpatient clinics and ancillary facilities serving Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Juniata, Franklin, Adams, and parts of Snyder counties. These locations care for more than 1.2 million area residents yearly, providing life-saving emergency care, essential primary care, and leading-edge diagnostic services. Its cardiovascular program is nationally recognized for its innovation and quality. It also leads the region with its cancer, neurology, transplant, obstetrics-gynecology, maternity care, and orthopaedic programs.