Okay, that's not really true. A vampire facelift isn't what happens when Dracula just can't take those jowls any more and decides to shave a century or two off this looks. It is, however, a series of innovative cosmetic techniques developed by Alabama-based physician Dr. Charles Runels to use a patient's own blood as an injectable filler. The result is the natural stimulation of elastin and collagen production in the facial tissues with little to no risk and improvements on par with an old-school surgical facelift.
The procedure is performed in the doctor's office and begins with a vial of blood being drawn. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge to obtain the platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is injected into the patient's face. (The technique used to isolate the PRP is referred to as the Selphyl system.)
The vampire face lift requires no more than 30 minutes, and avoids the intensive recovery process typical of a conventional facelift. There is no associated lumping, bruising, or swelling, and there is no risk of an allergic reaction.
In spite of the horror-movie-inspired colloquial name, the procedure relies on the platelets to attract stem cells, which then proliferate and take on the form of the surrounding cells. When PRP is injected into a wrinkle, the stem cells that are drawn to it also become skin cells and "plump" out the volume of the surrounding space. (A similar technique is used in conjunction with orthopedic procedures to stimulate bone growth.)
Some critics say that although the technique works, its popularity is actually linked to the faddish name. The stem cells are the real agents of the desired results, so it's only a matter of time until the blood injection is removed from the equation and stem cells are used directly.
Although known primarily as a face lift technique, the injections can be used on any area of the body and are suitable for both men and women. The results develop over a period of several weeks and will last for approximately 15-18 months. In most cases, the treated area has a smoother, more youthful appearance at the end of three weeks to one month.
Each of the injections costs between $1,100 and $2,500, while a surgical facelift can cost $12,000 and more depending on the amount of work done and the reputation of the surgeon. Injectables have the advantage of requiring no dangerous anesthesia, and with a vampire facelift, there's no time lost to recovery. A Botox injection, which has a shorter but similar effect, costs approximately $450 to $500, but many people do not want to put a chemical in their bodies and are attracted to the prospect of using their own blood.
Increasingly injectable cosmetic techniques are gaining popularity with the public and the so-called "vampire facelift" will likely evolve and become more prevalent since it relies on natural processes in the body to achieve beneficial results.