When Kim Kardashian posted a picture of her "Vampire Facelift" back in March, fans might have been initially spooked seeing her blood-streaked face.
But the skin-care treatment has since been embraced by even more celebrities and beauty enthusiasts. And in the run-up to Halloween, some say the procedure can keep you from looking like a cryptkeeper.
"Basically, the plasma facial -- also known as vampire facial or blood facial -- involves drawing blood from the patient's own vein into special tubes, and having it spin in a centrifuge for six minutes," said Dr. Dimitry Rabkin, director of Esthetica MD, a medical spa in Englewood, N.J.
The red and white blood is discarded, and the plasma is combined with calcium chloride to create a platelet-rich plasma (PRP), said Rabkin, who was also recently appointed the director of minimally invasive facial rejuvenation at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Rabkin fills a Dermapen with the mixture, then rolls it across the skin like a wand. Eleven stainless steel needles at the tip create tiny little channels, or abrasions, on the surface, allowing the plasma to penetrate areas that need rejuvenation and stimulate collagen production.
The entire procedure takes 30 to 40 minutes, and generallty ranges between $900 and $1,500.
Other doctors who administer the treatment, such as Dr. Jack Berdy, the director of SmoothMED in New York City or Dr. Charles Runels, the Alabama physician who trademarked the name "Vampire Facelift," compare the benefits of the procedure to injecting fillers.
As in, don't expect miracles.
"It works really well with patients who have acne scars or very fine lines," said Rabkin, who has been studying platelets since his days at Brigham Young University. "It's great for preventative anti-aging treatment, but not recommended for sagging skin or deep wrinkles."
While patients can expect redness and micro-trauma on the first two days after the facial, after a week the skin will appear plumper and glowing after a week, experts say.
"The patient should only have it performed by a doctor, and under local anesthesia," said Rabkin, who charges $850 per procedure. "But it's gentle, it feels like a cat's tongue licking you."