Updated: Oct 9
Thinking about a PRP + Microneedling facial? The facial made famous by Kim Kardashian, also known as the “vampire facial,” has gained in popularity over the years. With that being said, there are some misconceptions about what exactly a “vampire facial” is because there is a “vampire facelift” and “vampire facial.” Essentially, a “vampire facelift” consists of using PRP technology and fillers, which are both injected into the skin in a specific way. The “vampire facial” uses PRP technology and microneedling, whereas the PRP is soaked into the skin during the microneedling procedure (instead of injected). The procedure you are probably most familiar with is the “vampire facial,” the aforementioned facial made famous by Kim Kardashian on Instagram where she depicts herself in a bloody and vampireish state.
Okay, so which is better? Good question. In my opinion, the “vampire facial” is more effective. It also depends on your age and where you are in your skin rejuvenation journey, but for me, I am pro PRP + Microneedling. In this article, I am going to take you step-by-step through the process of PRP + Microneedling to help you understand exactly what to expect.
First of all, you may have seen the 2018 interview with Allure Magazine, where Kim cites regretting her “vampire facial” experience. But here is why... She had the facial done without any numbing cream because she was pregnant. I will tell you, if I had this facial done without numbing cream I would probably feel the same way! It is not exactly “tranquil” but it is very effective and certainly doable with numbing cream. Also, Kim did admit that her sister “Kourtney is a huge fan” and also said, “I know a lot of other people that love it, too.” So the lesson here: do not have this treatment done without numbing cream! Okay, with that being said, let us talk a little about me as well as who is performing this procedure before we go into the step-by-step process.
About The Skin Strategists
Dr. Elizabeth “Andie” Shin (TSS) performed the PRP + Microneedling for this article. A strong advocate of the procedure, Dr. Shin explains “this is really the best way to see real results in terms of rejuvenating your skin.” At the time, I had an inkling that she is correct given that she herself looks a good deal younger than she actually is (yes, I asked, and it is a lot younger). Beyond that, Dr. Shin is well-respected locally in Bethesda and has built TSS solely on referrals (because she is that good)! I really like Dr. Shin because she is a strong advocate of enhancing and preserving natural beauty without overdoing it. I personally do not want to look overdone, I just want to look like the best version of myself and that is what Dr. Shin aims for with her clients—preservation and natural enhancement. With extensive training and a deep background in facial transformation, I trusted I was in good hands with her.
As for me, I am a 39 (soon-to-be-40, yikes) woman and mom, and dealing with watching my youthful appearance decline. Despite my hard work over the years, expensive face creams, healthy diet, exercise, and so on, I cannot stop time. Certainly what I have done over the years has helped (microderm abrasion, chemical peels, facials, etc.), but I cannot deny that it is time to up the ante on my skincare regime. Dr. Shin remarked that I was great candidate for this procedure because I am “at that age when it is really time to start preserving." She actually said “It would have been better if I could have started a little earlier (based on her own personal journey), but definitely now for sure.” At 39, my biggest concerns are deepening wrinkles in my forehead, dimpled areas around my mouth, acne scarring, thin lips, fine lines under my eyes, and my aging neck area. Aye yi yi, it is a lot. So what is my goal? Well, of course to look younger, but I also would like to look better in my natural state (without makeup). I really want a nice clean fresh face that looks pretty good au naturel. I should also note this was my first time ever receiving this treatment. With that being said, let us get to it.
What You Need to Know About PRP + Microneedling
Probably the most common misconception about PRP + Microneedling is that the procedure involves you being injected with your own blood, hence the bloody vampire state. That is not exactly true. The actually bloodiness is from the mircroneedling not the blood that is drawn for PRP. Okay, so let me explain.
First, what is PRP? PRP is short for Platelet-Rich Plasma and is a concentrate of platelet-rich plasma protein derived from whole blood, centrifuged to remove red blood cells. As I mentioned earlier, when we hear about the “vampire facial” we assume the bloody facial has something to do with the blood drawn for the procedure? That is not quite accurate. The blood that is drawn for the procedure is placed in a centrifuge to extract the PRP. The result is a yellowish liquid (not blood). Yes, that yellowish liquid is put into a syringe, but that is simply so it can be easily applied and spread on to your skin during the mirconeedling procedure (it is not injected for the "vampire facial").
The real blood and redness comes from the microneedling itself. The PRP serves as a lubricant of sorts that is absorbed into your skin as the technician runs the mirconeedling device over your skin.
What is microneedling then? Microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy which basically involves repeatedly puncturing the skin with tiny, sterile needles with the purpose of generating new collagen and skin tissue for smoother, firmer, more toned skin.
Now that we have that sorted out, we can discuss the procedure in more depth.
PRP + Microneedling
When I arrived at APMI Wellness Center for my procedure, Dr. Shin first had me spend 20 minutes in the Infrared Sauna, which is part of Capital Cryo under the umbrella of APMI Wellness services. APMI Wellness Center consists of several premiere practitioners under one roof, including The Skin Strategists.
The purpose of using the Infrared Sauna first was to help detox and prepare my skin for the procedure. After I got cleaned up, it was time to have my blood drawn for the PRP extraction. The technician (Stacy) drew about 2 tablespoons of my blood and then I was off to the procedure room for my treatment.
Once in the room, I was instructed to lie down on the treatment bed and relax. Dr. Shin immediately began applying numbing cream to my face and discussing the treatment with me. She explained she would be using the SkinPen Microneedling device and that the goal was to gradually increase the depth of the needling during the procedure. Dr. Shin wanted to focus on my forehead area and acne scars first. Once I was numb she began spreading my PRP on my skin and started microneedling on my forehead. It was definitely a strange sensation! I did not really feel any pain, however, I was very aware that a microneedling device was being swept across my skin (and certainly it would hurt very much without numbing cream). As the depth increased, so did the punctures and that is where things got bloody. As the process continued, Dr. Shin alternated between applying PRP and microneedling resulting in a soaking-sweeping experience. She also focused on the acne scars around my chin and jaw line and spent some time on my neck area. The microneedling itself took about 25-30 minutes and was very tolerable (with the numbing cream). By the time I was close to being done my skin was starting to feel a bit tight and warm—and sensitive, but very acceptable considering what I was having done.
Addressing My Other Concerns with Fillers & Botox
Once the microneedling was complete I saw myself in the mirror and yikes, I looked a little scary. Dr. Shin explained that I would look much less red in the morning and would gradually improve over the next few days and weeks. She also told me not to wash my face that night because she wanted the PRP to stay on my skin overnight as part of the rejuvenation process. At this point, it was time to address my complaint about having thin lips which Dr Shin addressed with Restylane lip filler (this was also my first time ever using fillers). I was very excited about the prospect of lip fillers because they work to add volume and fullness, something I was sorely lacking.
By now Dr. Shin had already applied a numbing agent to my lips. I will tell you though, even with the numbing agent, I was not prepared for the pain of getting lip fillers done. In particular I found the upper lip portion of the injection process to be quite painful. Dr. Shin explained that we would use a local anesthetic next time. Meanwhile, all I was thinking is, “was this going to be worth it?” Yikes, I hate to say but it did hurt—and I have a pretty good tolerance for pain! Once my lip fillers were done, I was grateful. The process involved about 10-12 injections total between the top and bottom, and by far the toughest injections were those nearest the center of my upper lip. In fact the bottom was a piece of cake in comparison. So, next time I will post an update about the difference in the experience when using a local anesthetic.
Okay, so I made it through my first lip filler experience. Whew. At this point, Dr. Shin still needed to address the fine lines under my eyes, and my forehead and chin dimpling problem because, while the microneedling would help rejuvenate those areas, we needed something more substantial to deal with longer-term aging. In order to help with the fine lines around my eyes, Dr. Shin added a bit of filler under my eyes, which requires a special method of inserting the needle in order to prevent occlusion of the central retinal artery. You most certainly need an experienced practitioner for this type of filler. Notice Dr. Shin's technique below:
Dr. Shin gently and slowly injected small amounts of filler around my eyes and cheeks to help contour the areas of concern and improve the appearance of fine lines. That process was not painful and finished quickly.
Next it was time to deal with my forehead wrinkles and chin dimpling. The answer: Botox. I will tell you, I never saw myself using Botox, but that was also before I started to see myself age—and started to see that I was beginning to develop something of angry resting face, as in I kind of looked angry--even when I was not. Botox is primarily used for forehead lines, crow's feet lines, and frown lines between the eyebrows. It works by essentially freezing the muscles, which in turn prevents the area from repeatedly undergoing the habits that cause wrinkling. Certainly you have to be very careful with how you use Botox, but Dr. Shin is a pro! She sat me up and injected 30ccs of Botox into my forehead in a series of about 4 injections. She also injected a couple of areas around my chin to help deal with the dimpling issue. Then, I was done!
Sure, I was a little worse for wear at the time--as in heading off to party would not have been a good idea, but mostly I just looked like I had a bad sunburn. In fact, my skin was already rapidly healing because of the PRP and a good night’s rest was now in order. After thanking Dr. Shin, I drove home no problem. No downtime, no nothing—beyond a bit of healing time on my own. Check out the difference just four hours later!
Post-Procedure CryoFacial by Capital Cryo
Post procedure, Dr. Shin scheduled me for a CryoFacial with Capital Cryo as part of her comprehensive treatment approach. Her goal is for patients to receive a CryoFacial approximately 48 hours or so after the PRP + Microneedling treatment. The primary effect of the CryoFacial is improved blood flow, which leads to better healing. Dr. Shin’s goal with adding the CryoFacial to the PRP + Microneedling treatment is to support skin tightening and collagen rejeneration. When I went in for my C
ryoFacial, it was my first time, so other than knowing it would be cold, I did not know what to expect. Elizabeth of Capital Cryo performed my facial that day and when I arrived she instructed me to lie on the table and relax. She began waving the CryoFacial wand gently over my scalp. I will tell you, I could have stayed there forever. The Cryo felt so good on my scalp--and that was just the beginning. As the facial continued, Elizabeth moved the wand over the different areas of my face. The temperature gradually got colder at different intervals to the point that it was below -200F. But honestly, it felt great! The goal was to make my blood vessels contract and then dilate to boost blood flow. It worked! I could literally feel my skin tightening, yes, from the cold, but it felt wonderful nevertheless. All I could think was “I feel as cool as a cucumber!” Truly, it was 10 minutes of pure soothing refreshment.
I walked out of APMI Wellness feeling like a million bucks and I will tell you, the next day, my skin looked really good! My skin was plump, dewy, and vibrant. I could hardly see a fine line and my skin was glowing. Also through this process I learned that celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba, Katy Perry, Mandy Moore, Gigi Hadid and more love cryotherapy and rave about the benefits. I could see why, and come to think of it, every one of those women is known for their glowing skin. Sign me up again please!
Post-Procedure Days 1-5
Now that my treatment is done, let us have a look at the progress day-by-day following my PRP + Microneedling treatment.
In my opinion, the results in the day 5 pictures are obvious and I am beyond pleased (to say the least). Even my husband commented on how good my skin looked--and believe me, he is not one to remark on things like that. I mean, the lines on my forehead are virtually gone, my skin is radiant, my lips have more volume, and the fine lines under my eyes are less visible. When I looked in the mirror at day 5, I looked like I did when I was about 32. I am thrilled and highly motivated to continue managing my skin with Dr. Shin of The Skin Strategists (and I am not just saying that!)
Two Weeks After My First PRP + Microneedling Treatment
Two weeks after my PRP + Microneedling treatment, Dr. Shin sent me to see Olena at her Organic Spa inside APMI Wellness Center. I couldn't believe it! There was more? Dr. Shin explained that Olena's Organic Hyrdo Facial was an important part of my skin's rejuvenation strategy and beneficial to the transformation of my skin. When I arrived for my appointment, I was greeted by the vibrant and lovely Olena. Hailing from Ukraine, Olena specializes in a holistic approach to skincare and anti-aging results. The spa room was tranquil, dim, and soothing. I was in heaven already! Once on the table, Olena positioned a warm oxygen diffuser that blew a steady stream of oxygen directly into my skin and placed warming stones under my shoulders. Meanwhile, she cleansed my skin with all organic products and used a divine lemongrass peel to help remove dead skin cells. She then began treating my skin using a variety of devices. First, she used a Hydro Dermabrasion tool that utilizes water jets to help gently remove the outer layer of dead skin cells with the goal of revealing smoother and more even skin texture. Then, she gently washed away debris with an Oxygen Spray Gun in preparation for the Mircrodermabrasion portion of the treatment. Olena used a diamond tip Microdermabrasion tool which would work to help renew my skin and combat fine lines. She also used the tool on the sides of my neck and around my ear area, which I really appreciated! She exclaimed, "People always forget about this area, this is part of the face too!"
Once she was done with the Microdermabrasion it was time for extraction. So, that is never the fun part of the facial, but it is important and she was very quick. My main problem areas were on my nose. During the extraction process, Olena discovered a few skin tags on my neck area, and later in the treatment used an amazing and painless tool to remove them for me! After the extraction Olena said, "Congratulations, you have made it through extraction!"
Now is was time to hydrate my freshly exposed skin. Olena used a lovely organic bergamot mask on my skin. She gently and thoroughly massaged the product into my skin which felt unbelievably divine! Then, she allowed the product to soak into my skin and massaged my neck, arms, and hands. I could have stayed there forever. Finally, Olena gently cleansed the treatment off my face and applied a final organic serum and moisturizer. I felt amazing and would absolutely recommend Olena's skin treatment and hydro facial approach to anyone!
The next day, my skin felt softer than I remember it feeling in years. I have a two-year old and I actually kind of felt like my skin rivaled his in softness. I was amazed. Two days later, my skin felt even softer if you can believe it. I can genuinely see, firsthand, in the mirror, that I look younger
If you were to ask me if I recommend The Skin Strategists and Dr. Shin's PRP + Microneedling package, hands down my answer is yes. I don't know which was better: the results or the value of the all-inclusive package! I personally will only ever do this with Dr. Shin because I trust her and believe in her approach. My advice is to most definitely be very selective in who you choose to work with for this type of procedure because experience and bedside manner matter a lot, and Dr. Shin absolutely has the right approach and experience I am looking for.