Vampires are spreading, but not to worry. You get your blood back -- at least part of it. Actually, we're talking about cosmetic treatments called "vampire fillers" or "vampire lifts" that use a patient's own blood for skin rejuvenation.
Blood is drawn from your arm, spun in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets, and then injected into your face where it works like a temporary filler but also, more important, stimulates new collagen growth. It may also be used to enhance other treatments such as laser resurfacing or fat transfer surgery.
Some doctors say it is less likely than synthetic fillers to create irregularities and bumps in areas where the skin is thin, like under the eyes. And because it is one's own blood, it is tolerated well. Others say there is not enough research behind such treatments to prove they are effective at skin rejuvenation or to determine how long they last. Some doctors have reported seeing no dramatic effects with it.
But Barbara Mason, 50, who had the treatment four weeks ago, is enthusiastic. Mason drove to Memphis, Tenn., from her home in Gulfport, Miss., to have an extensive treatment by Donna Ward, a registered nurse at a spa in Memphis. Ward uses RegenPlasma platelet-rich plasma. Some others use Selphyl's "platelet-rich fibrin matrix."
Mason said that in two or three weeks she began to see "a huge difference." The three creases on her neck are now gone, she said. Gone too is the crepe-y skin at the front of her neck and vertical lines on her cheeks, and her skin is smoother. She still has nasolabial folds, the deeper groves around the mouth, but they look better, she said. She experienced virtually no down time. She had some bruising under one eye that she covered with makeup.
"I've done laser (resurfacing), and this to me did a much better job and was one of the least expensive things I've had done," she said.
She was told collagen in her skin would build for three months. After that, "We have to wait and see what's going to happen," she said.
Ward, who began using the platelet treatment two months ago, injects it with a tiny needle all over the face and into the neck as well. Platelets release protein growth factors that are believed to stimulate tissue growth and repair and to recruit the help of stem cells.
"In about two days, your texture starts improving, and it keeps getting better," said Ward. "It's an all-over subtle improvement. Your texture and smoothness improve, and there is some filling. As a few weeks go, by you see some tightening. ... It gives a natural look."
An all-over treatment by Ward typically costs around $750.
Ward also uses the plasma topically on patients who have had SmartXide DOT CO2 laser system resurfacing. The thousands of tiny holes in the skin created by the laser (in the process of stimulating collagen building) are an excellent way to get the substance into the skin, she said. The platelets also speed healing.
"Think of it as a stem cell therapy," said Sarah Carpenter, a registered nurse who provides the Selphyl treatment. "It's all about regrowing tissue," and not so much about "filling," she said.
Sandra Horn, a registered nurse at a clinic in Germantown, Tenn., treats under-eye hallows and crow's feet with Selphyl and said it appears to last from six months to a year. She points out that it does not work as effectively as Perlane and Juvederm, hyaluronic acid fillers, to fill in deep folds around the mouth; nor can it replace a facelift.
"If you have a lot of loose skin, the only way to get rid of it is to surgically remove it," she said.
Mason is so pleased with her treatment that she plans to have another. "My husband told me every day for three days how beautiful I am," she said. "And he doesn't normally say that."
(Contact Barbara Bradley at Bradley@commercialappeal.com.)