‘I got a vampire facial, and the results aren’t what I expected’

Vampire facials have received quite the attention recently, and not for good reason either. Earlier this year a VIP Spa in New Mexico was forced to shut down after two clients who received the facial tested positive for HIV. It’s definitely not the result you want from splashing $700.

A quick Google search of the facial will also bring up pictures of clients with gory, red inflamed faces post-treatment. Turned off yet?

But if Kim Kardashian, along with various other A-list celebs, swear by the treatment to maintain their youthful appearance, it can’t be all that bad, right? I decided to put my face on the line in the name of beauty because yes, beauty is pain.

First of all, what is a vampire facial?

The term ‘vampire facial’ is the informal term for collagen induction therapy, or a combination of microneedling and PRP (platelet-rich plasma). What it involves is a registered technician taking a sample of your own blood, extracting the plasma (the liquid part which is full of platelets, nutrients and collagen) from it, and then injecting it back into your face with a needle.

Who should get a vampire facial?

It’s obviously not for those with needle phobia, but Kelly George, registered cosmetic nurse and owner of Kelly George Aesthetics, recommends the treatment for a wide range of skin concerns – especially those who want to stop the ageing process.

“The treatment is amazing for preventative ageing because it regenerates cells and creates new collagen,” George says.

“A series of three to four facials will address multiple skin issues including breakouts and congestion, acne scarring, dull and lifeless skin, discolouration, sun damage, sagging skin, and fine lines and wrinkles.”

She even suggests “everyone over the age of 30 have at least one vampire facial per year and two a year for those over 40.”

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Are vampire facials safe?

Despite what the gory pictures you’ll find online tell you, George explains vampire facials are probably one of the safest treatments she performs in her clinic.

“Of all the procedures we offer, it is the one treatment that doesn’t keep me awake at night because we are simply utilising the mechanisms of the patient’s own blood to heal their own tissue.”

The only factor that can cause an element of danger is the technician who performs the treatment, which was the problem with the case in New Mexico.

“A vampire facial is only dangerous when performed by an inexperienced therapist within a clinic that doesn’t have adequate policies and protocols in place for blood taking,” George explains.

“Always make sure the person conducting the treatment is qualified. My recommendation would be to have your facial within a clinic that has medical staff (doctors and nurses) on site, not a traditional beauty salon.”

I was curious to see the wonders this facial could do for my skin. Here’s what went down:

Pre-treatment

I was given strict instructions a few days prior to the treatment.

  • Two days beforehand I was told to avoid Aspirin and Nurofen to “minimize the risk of bruising”. I also needed to stop using Retinol in my daily skincare regime.
  • The day before the treatment I was instructed to drink 2-3 litres of water and “avoid alcohol the night prior to minimize bruising and dehydration”.
  • The morning of the treatment I was to avoid any vigorous exercise or weight lifting.

The several mentions of “bruising” made me a bit uneasy, so of course I then proceeded to Google ‘vampire facial bruising’, and boy, was that the worst thing I could’ve done. (Note to everyone: Do. Not. Do. This.)

The process

I was extremely nervous walking in, but Kelly talked me through the process, answered all my burning questions and assessed my skin.

I was then asked to lie down, my face was cleansed and she began the process of extracting blood from my arm – just enough for a small vial.

While the vial was spun in a centrifuge to separate plasma, numbing cream was applied to my entire face.

About 30 minutes later, my face was subsequently numb and it was time for the injections. My pain threshold is pretty high, so I have to admit I didn’t feel a single ounce of pain. That or my expectations were pretty high.

After the injections came the microneedling – this was the part I could actually feel through the numbing effect.

One the procedure was complete, a soothing cream was applied to my skin.

Post-facial

I’m not going to lie, I was terrified to look in the mirror afterwards. I couldn’t get the vision of that horrible Google search out of my mind. But after building up some courage, I finally took a look… and to be honest, it wasn’t as bad as what I was expecting. Yes, my face was hot red and inflamed (not a cute look), but it wasn’t as though it looked like I had soaked my face in a bucket of blood or anything.

What was more worrying was the downtime. Kelly informed me the redness would die down after day three and I’ll be able to return back to my daily skincare routine after day seven.

The next morning I woke up and it felt like my face was badly sunburnt. Over the next few days my skin peeled a lot and I kept having to apply the hydrating serum Kelly gave me because my face felt extremely dry and taut. It’s safe to say, I did not leave the house during this recovery period.

The results

It wasn’t until a week later where I could really see the results. My skin was smoother, my pores were definitely smaller and I have to admit it did feel like I had a mini facelift.

And Kelly explains the results don’t just stop there. “New collagen continues to be produced for up to six weeks post treatment, so the true hydrating and plumping effects can take up to two months.”

I was so pleased with the results that I would book myself in to do it again. Yes, really.