|Blood drawn from arm for platelet rich plasma facial treatment|
What is a PRP?
How do platelets rejuvenate skin?
Dr Sophie Shotter talks about the PRP treatment
A: My name is Dr Sophie Shotter. I qualified as a doctor from the University of Leeds in 2008, and undertook training as an anaesthetist before setting up my own aesthetic business - Illuminate Skin Clinics - and work across most of Kent. I have trained in lots of advanced aesthetic procedures including wrinkle relaxing injections, dermal fillers including advanced facial sculpting, Genuine Dermaroller, chemical peels, skincare, microsclerotherapy, and most recently Platelet Rich Plasma. I’d heard about it in 2013, but there weren’t many places offering training in it and it wasn’t very well-known yet. It has been used in the USA for nearly 10 years now for facial rejuvenation, but is only just on the cusp of the mainstream UK market at the moment. Whatclinic have predicted an 80% increase in enquiries about it this year, and so I decided to find out more!
Q: What are PRP fillers? How do they work? Is it a synonym for a vampire facelift?
A: Most people know of PRP as the ‘Vampire Facelift’ which a few celebrities have been raving about recently. Platelet Rich Plasma is a portion of the blood which contains the platelets suspended in a small amount of plasma. Basically I take a sample of blood from the patient (the same as you would for any blood test at your doctor), and I put this into a special machine called a centrifuge which spins the blood and separates it into its components. You end up with some straw-coloured fluid which contains the platelets and this is the bit I inject into the face. Platelets normally help our blood to clot when we cut ourselves. They are like little power-houses that are activated by contact with body tissues and release proteins called growth factors. These stimulate new collagen formation, healing and repair. The result is an improvement in the skin quality and texture, improvement in dark circles and the under eye area, improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduction in open pores, improved hair growth and a general plumping of the face.
Q: What's the most correct word to describe the procedure - a facelift or a facial?
A: I prefer to describe it as a ‘facial therapy’. It isn’t a facelift - anything that claims to be a facelift and isn’t an operation is in my opinion being a little dishonest. However it is also a lot more than a facial. It falls somewhere in the middle in my opinion.
Q: Who are the best candidates for the vampire facelift? What age group?
A: Any age group can benefit from PRP. Patients in their 20s and 30s would notice an improvement in their skin quality as well as targeting any specific areas of concerns. I’m also seeing a lot of women in their 30s with significant signs of ageing from sun exposure - although prevention is better than cure, PRP can be an option for a lot of these patients. The over 40s will probably see the most benefit. Most people in this age-group will need a course of 2 or 3 treatments 4-6 weeks apart. In younger patients you can often notice benefits from a single treatment. The only thing I would say is that it is probably not a good treatment for needle-phobic patients.
Q: How many sessions are required for a noticeable difference? Are results permanent?
A: Once you’ve had your initial course of PRP you should aim to have one treatment per year to maintain the results. So although they are not permanent they are long-lasting.
Q: Is there any downtime after the procedure? Any side effects? Is it an alternative to Botox?
A: PRP works in a completely different way to Botox - Botox minimises the movement in certain muscle groups, preventing wrinkles forming and with time softening existing wrinkles. It does nothing to work on the skin quality, and Botox doesn’t improve the appearance of the under eye area. PRP works to reverse the signs of ageing we already have. It can be injected directly into fine lines and also anywhere you would inject a filler - it plumps and smoothes and directly works on the quality and tone of the skin. In my opinion it is the best treatment around for the under eye area. It works on so many different aspects of ageing skin.
Q: I read in some reviews that it causes bags under eyes, is it true?
A: PRP is known for improving the under eye area, and bags under the eyes are certainly not a long-term side effect. It can make you look a bit puffy around the eyes for a day or two after the treatment, but that will settle down.
Q: Kim Kardashian and vampire facelift - what's her effect on the procedure's popularity?
A: Kim Kardashian - what can I say? In some ways she has done the procedure a favour by bringing it into the limelight - many people have only heard about PRP because of her tweet about the Vampire Facelift. However I think she’s also scared a few people off with that photo of her face covered in blood. I have no idea how the doctor was conducting her procedure, but I certainly don’t cover my patients’ faces in blood. The fluid I inject is straw-coloured, and although you can get small areas of bleeding with the injections, these are minor. One thing I can say about Kim Kardashian is her skin always looks great in photographs - so the results of PRP speak for themselves!
Q: Anything else we should know about the treatment?
A: Although PRP involves a large number of injections, most people don’t find it uncomfortable as I cover the face with local anaesthetic cream for at least 45 minutes first. PRP has so many different uses - orthopaedic surgeons have been using it for several years to help heal injured ligaments and tendons. As well as general facial rejuvenation it can be used to treat hairloss on the scalp, to rejuvenate the neck, décolletage and the backs of the hands. I’m also waiting to hear back from a colleague who recently tried it on some stretch marks. Stretch marks are notoriously difficult to treat, but scientifically it makes sense to me that PRP should work and so I’m so excited to hear about the results!
Q: How much does the platelet rich plasma treatment cost?
A: Currently the normal price is £500.
Q: Where can people find you?
A: My new website is under development at the moment, but it will be www.illuminateskinclinic.co.uk - it should be up by the end of June. My mobile is 07525 214985, email is firstname.lastname@example.org.