My desire to prevent patients from investing time and money in unproven facial rejuvenation procedures has reached new heights with the marketing of the “Vampire Facelift.” Unfortunately in my chosen specialty, hype and marketing all too frequently precede research and science, and this procedure is a perfect example.

First of all, no actual vampires are involved; however, there is some bloodletting. This procedure requires a couple of tubes of your own blood to be drawn and then spun in a centrifuge for a few minutes. This process separates the blood into its different components. The plasma portion that contains platelets is drawn into a syringe and injected back into your face. Platelets are cells involved in forming clots to stop bleeding after injury, but they also contain growth factors and proteins that are felt to assist in healing. These growth factors are released after the platelets are injected into the face and are the presumed entities that induce the purported rejuvenative effects.

The good news is no incisions are required and only topical anesthesia is required. The bad news is that nothing is actually lifted, unlike the name of the procedure implies. Additionally, there is not a shred of medical evidence that proves that this procedure has any lasting effects. There are a few starlets that profess the wonders of these treatments, but no scientific studies that show any significant benefit. Even the providers that are offering this procedure report it should be repeated up to three times at intervals of a few weeks, and then maintained every six months. Each treatment is generally around $1200-$1500.

There is no doubt that when the face is injected with almost anything medical, including salt water, mild swelling occurs that softens lines and wrinkles temporarily. When filler agents are injected such as Juvéderm®, there is good scientific evidence that the collagen layer of the skin thickens, making wrinkles less deep. While fat injections are less predictable, and in my opinion rarely aesthetically pleasing, there is some objective data that shows the fat lives and fills in areas of tissue deficit associated with aging.

In contradistinction, there is no such evidence for platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections that are used in Vampire Facelifts. While this fluid has been used to some utility in the orthopedic surgery arena, it is not even FDA approved for injection into the face. It is also true that the majority of providers offering this procedure are not board certified plastic surgeons. Let the buyer beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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