Bring on the shine, with a dose of PRP

Anti-Aging Medicine
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Anti-Aging Medicine
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With claims of slowing down ageing and helping bring that youthful glow to one’s face, the platelet rich plasma facial is gaining global acceptance

You’ve likely heard of PRP facial treatments — popularly known as vampire facials — or, at the very least, seen the unsettling photos on social media. Remember Kim Kardashian’s bloodied face in the viral post-treatment selfie? What could be mistaken for ghastly Halloween make up is the colloquial term for a microneedling treatment using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) — a component of your blood that can lead to impressive results when absorbed into your skin.

“None of us can escape the effect of time on our skin, but thankfully anti-aging medicine has come a long way in helping people deal with ageing skin,” says Dr Nitin Nair, Specialist Dermatologist, Aster Clinics, Al Nahda, Dubai. “Platelet-rich plasma facial is one such non-surgical option to improve the appearance of the skin and reduce those lines and wrinkles. PRP is produced by isolating plasma from the patient’s own blood and concentrating it. This concentrate is rich in special growth factors and proteins that help boost cell growth.”

Why is it so popular?

Beyond the shock factor, PRP facials have gained popularity due to their proven ability to enhance the skin’s overall appearance. The treatment can visibly improve its texture, tone, and radiance by stimulating cell repair and boosting collagen — all undeniably enticing benefits.

Dr Rola Al Shehadat, Owner and Founder of Charisma Group

“When the platelet-rich plasma is taken from the patient’s own blood and placed back into the skin, cell proliferation is encouraged, which leads to an increase in elastin and collagen production,” says Dr Rola Al Shehadat, Owner and Founder of Charisma Group. “As a result, the skin will look tighter, fuller, and smoother.”

The vampire facial has become a staple in the beauty industry, in part due to the influence of celebrities, who post startling images of the procedure on social media and also because the facial has reportedly shown visible results in some cases. “PRP facials have gained popularity mostly due to their natural approach, non-surgical nature, collagen-stimulating effects and customisable treatment options,” says Dr Sanjay Parashar, an Educator and Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Founder of the Cocoona Center for Aesthetic Transformation. “They offer a minimally invasive alternative for rejuvenating the skin and addressing various skin concerns.”

Dr Sanjay Parashar, an Educator and Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Founder of the Cocoona Center for Aesthetic Transformation

Dr Nair adds that numerous patients have found that PRP can reduce wrinkles, plump up the skin, improve overall skin complexion, and diminish acne scars. “When injected or combined with microneedling, PRP leads to an increase in elastin and collagen production,” says Dr Nair. “The full effect of PRP facial treatments appears in a few weeks to months.”

People find PRP facials ideal because they have a lesser downtime, pain, cost, and complications than other invasive procedures. “PRP facials depend on your blood which reduces any risk of allergic reactions or unwanted side effects that may happen with chemicals,” says Dr Swetha Dilip, an anti-aging and aesthetic specialist at a reputed cosmetic and plastic surgery clinic in Dubai. “PRP facials are also appealing as they address a wide range of skin concerns and treat multiple concerns in a single treatment.”

Dr Swetha Dilip, an anti-aging and aesthetic specialist

The benefits

Dr Nelly Mohamed, Specialist – Dermatology, Tajmeel Specialized Medical Center, Abu Dhabi, says producing new collagen, which is stimulated by PRP growth factors and healing properties, contributes to achieving a lot of benefits such as skin rejuvenation and glow, and treating scars such as acne scars, wound scars, surgical scars, etc. “It also reduces wrinkles and sagging, improves skin texture, reduces wide pores, helps to restore volume loss, reduces pigmentation and improves dark circles around the eyes,” says Dr Mohamed.

Dr Nelly Mohamed, Specialist – Dermatology, Tajmeel Specialized Medical Center, Abu Dhabi

Dr Al Shehadat adds, “If suitable number of sessions are followed, PRP Facial could have great benefits on improving skin quality, delaying ageing signs and keeping the person looking young, fresh and maintaining flawlessly healthy skin and hair. It is also done for the scalp as it is proven to help with hair loss and we include it in the hair growth programs in my clinics.”

Does PRP hurt?

It depends on how high your pain threshold is. The first part of the procedure involves taking a blood sample while the second phase is having the PRP injected back into the skin. Some practitioners like to use PRP therapy in conjunction with microneedling, which can cause some discomfort.

“After a quick consultation about the effects, downtime, and post-care, your blood is withdrawn and spun into a high-speed centrifuge to extract the PRP,” explains Dr Dilip. “At this point, your skin will be numbed with an anaesthetic cream. After 20 minutes, the skin is cleaned thoroughly and treated with a combination of microneedling with PRP. The microneedles cause microtrauma in the skin and the growth factors from the PRP accelerate collagen production and healing.

“This combination helps to regenerate years of sun and oxidative damage collectively. The procedure is completed within 45 minutes from start to finish. Expect mild redness and swelling post-procedure for 2-3 days and all the effects to kick in by the 3rd week post-procedure.”

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Image Credit: Supplied

PRP and microneedling

People may consider having microneedling with PRP if they want to treat certain marks or blemishes on the body or face for cosmetic reasons. The addition of PRP to microneedling may speed up the healing process and stimulate skin renewal, potentially producing better results than microneedling alone. The authors of a 2016 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology looked at the benefits of adding PRP to microneedling for acne scars.

In a trial of 50 people with acne scars, microneedling with distilled water led to a 45.84 per cent improvement in acne scars. Microneedling with PRP improved acne scars by 62.20 per cent. None of the participants reported any lasting side effects from the treatment.

According to a 2019 review of PRP microneedling for acne scars, in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, various studies showed that the addition of PRP to microneedling improved acne scarring, provided higher patient satisfaction, and decreased the amount of downtime that people needed after the procedure.

Researchers still need further evidence to confirm these findings, however.

What are the risks?

Because the PRP is derived from your body there is no risk of allergic reactions, say experts. However, there can be some bruising, bleeding or infection at the injection site. Meanwhile, if microneedling is incorporated there will be some redness, which can sometimes take a few days to quieten down.

“There is nothing major to be concerned about, some swelling and redness, maybe bruises that will take a maximum of a week to heal, if it even happens,” says Dr Mohammed. “You’ll have to stop non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., aspirin and blood thinners also need to be avoided because of their potential to diminish the effects of the injection.”

Who benefits most?

To ascertain if a PRP injection worth the fuss, it all depends what your concerns are. But generally speaking, doctors say PRP can be highly effective in minimising the signs of ageing and regenerating hair loss. However, to get the most out of it, experts recommend a course. “It can be suitable for people with mild to moderate skin concerns seeking a natural and minimally invasive approach to rejuvenation,” says Dr Parashar.

“Remember, the experience of getting a PRP facial can vary from person to person. Consulting with a qualified medical professional who specialises in PRP facials will give you a clearer understanding of what to expect during the procedure, as they can tailor the treatment to your specific needs and address any questions or concerns you may have.”

PRP bioactive substances are affected by ageing, so starting to conserve collagen from a young age has to be considered, advises Dr Mohammed. “PRP suits most people except those with severe diseases such as blood cancer or hepatitis,” she says. “It is also suitable for all skin types. People with consistent skincare always benefit more as a combination of various skin treatments enhances rejuvenation and anti-ageing results.”

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