I am always on the hunt for something that will address my skin issues: hyperpigmentation, pores/acne, texture and anti-aging. So when I learned more about the benefits of microneedling, and more specifically microneeding with PRP (also known as the Vampire Facial made famous by the Kardashians) I knew this was something right up my alley.
More about microneedling
Microneedling is the use of a device (can be a mechanical roller that uses no electricity or an electrical pen) which houses many small needles that puncture the skin. Doing so creates a bit of an intentionally-contained trauma that kicks your skin’s natural process of building and healing into gear. The length of the needles can vary, usually from .25mm up to 2mm. The deeper the needle, the more trauma and results you get – as well as the post-procedure downtime (more on that in a bit) and a recommendation of being administered by a professional.
The procedure is great for the skin issues that I listed above and for the professional-grade level is recommended once every 4-6 weeks for three to six sessions for maximum results. It helps with anti-aging by building collagen and creating cell-turnover due to the microtrauma to the skin. That same benefit is great for those with texture issues, stretchmarks and pitted acne scarring since the needles are helping to build the foundation below the skin.
The process also helps to break up hyperpigmentation by exfoliating the top layer of skin that you see, while stimulating the layers of the epidermis to more-quickly expel those overly-active melanocytes (pigmented skin cells) up and out at a more rapid pace. You’re getting immediate and future results.
Handheld at-home devices like the Dermaroller are available for at-home purchase but are not the same as medical-grade microneedling. While the convenience and price-point is attractive, it takes quite a while to see results. Professionals also agree that the issues with proper sanitation and bent needles can cause more damage to the skin, and at-home needles aren’t usually as deep. Trying to do a procedure on yourself with enough gusto to produce results is also uncomfortable – medical grade uses topical lidocaine. If you can afford it, a procedure at a trusted medical aesthetics, plastic surgeon or dermatologist will be more aggressive but produce faster results. They’re also trained experts, and we are talking about your face!
Talk to your doctor or medical provider if you have recent acid or retinoid use, history of cold sores or shingles on the face, active or cystic acne, extremely sensitive or reactive skin, allergies, post-procedure hyperpigmentation issues in the past or any other concerns that could be contraindications as this procedure may not be suitable for everyone.
What about the vampire part?
If you’re going the professional route, you can do microneeding on its own or add in platelet rich plasma (or PRP for short). It involves drawing your blood, placing it in a hospital-grade centrifuge and separating the red blood cells from the yellow-tinged viscous plasma. The plasma is then either injected into the skin, or used topically for the microneedling pen to glide over as it punctures (and therefore injects) the skin.
The blood helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to the organs of your body. The plasma is what is like a superfood which helps with faster healing and quicker results. Since it’s your own substance, the risk for infection or allergic reaction is minimal. Athletes and stars have sworn by the effects of PRP injections for years from beauty benefits to injury repair. For more information about PRP specifically, check out this link.
Costs for standard microneedling at a dermatologists office can range from $150-$400 per session, with the PRP addition adding on another $200-$500 depending on where you go. So, this is an investment that’s not for the faint of heart that aren’t willing to put some blood and money on the line.
I made sure I had a good few days where I could hide out for a bit and went in to see my friends in Manhattan for my first microneedling and PRP treatment. I wasn’t really nervous although there is that element of blood and needles in your face, but really these are trained professionals so I was more excited than anything. Bring on the glow!
I followed my pre-treatment instructions which I can’t stress enough are so important. I stayed out of the sun beforehand and didn’t drink anything that could thin my blood (alcohol or caffeine). I took two extra-strength Tylenol – very important that it’s Tylenol because anything else will aid in bruising – in the morning and two before the procedure. I also purchased and slathered on topical Arnica which helps with pain and bruising, and ate a good amount plus brought some candy to boost my sugar after the blood draw if I needed to. The hardest part was abstaining from any retinoids, acids and certain vitamins. My skin needs constant exfoliation so even the few days off brought a few bumps.
I grabbed a hat and sunglasses (both to protect my skin from the sun and others on the train from looking at me afterward) and arrived eager and makeup free.
I was greeted by the awesome staff and my provider hooked me up with some lidocaine all over my face. It felt cool and stung my sensitive skin a bit, but it is better than needles on my face so that’s fine by me! She laid out the contents of the PRP box which was intriguing and then time to take the blood. It didn’t hurt at all and I’m glad I ate because it’s not a small vial. Get that good stuff, girl!
She then went to spin my blood multiple times to filter out the plasma, and came back with the SkinPen microneedling tool in-hand. I laid back, she started the whirring of the pen and off we went.
She let me know which area she was going to do and whether it was lighter or deeper before she touched down the pen so that I was in the loop on what was happening. She would layer the plasma onto my face and then go over it with the pen in smooth motions. I felt the vibration and some minor discomfort at the deeper levels, but it wasn’t painful at all. I totally expected to be sweating bullets and gritting my teeth when she did my bonier areas, but it was a breeze. Around my face she went, going deeper in my trouble areas and on the more fleshy parts of my face, and the lightest by my eyes.
The whole thing took about 20 minutes (plus numbing time). When I sat up I had little spots of blood here and there, but given it was my first time and I have sensitive skin I honestly expected to be blood red and looking a little chewed up. Don’t get me wrong I was red, but the arnica and anti-inflammatory Tylenol seemed to really help. I got cleaned up and applied the arnica + some CeraVe moisturizer they provided me, pulled my hat down and put on those oversized sunglasses and off I went to continue my day.
Right after I left the office I went to class at Aveda where I’m currently studying for my esthetics license. Because I was going to a safe place inside, around people who extract my pimples and practice waxing unwanted hair off eachother, I was OK with going but I definitely got questions on why my face was so red or what I did. Unless you use an approved makeup like Oxygenetix for post procedures, you’re not hiding this so plan for a few days of down-time.
Right after and that night, my skin felt like I had a solid case of prickly heat. It didn’t hurt but felt inflamed like a sunburn which is all to be expected.
The following day my face went down from an inflamed red to a bit of a deeper, more rougher textured red as the microtears begin to crust a bit and the skin starts to turn over. I fully anticipate that this will gradually continue for the next 3-5 days until it heals or peels.
You’ll want to be careful not to use anything harsh on your skin for the next few days. I washed with basic face wash and patted on a peptide and niacinamide serum to aid in the healing. No acids, retinoids or scrubs for the next few days for me.
Results – Week One
I really appreciated the experience. I felt comfortable, understood what was happening and all of it jived with the research I’d done. I 100% recommend this service.
It’s been a week and I must say that I’m thrilled with the results. The healing process took about the entire week, but it wasn’t anything life altering.
I was red for about two days and then began to feel a bit scaly. My face which is typically pretty smooth felt a little rough to the touch. Around day four I began to feel tight and pretty itchy. Then came the peeling. I would say it is exactly like a sunburn. It wasn’t terribly noticeable unless you were looking for it.
I stayed true to my after treatment and did not exfoliate or scrub which was a test of restraint.
Here’s a before and after pic. There’s nothing a girl with German features and large pores hates more than an un-edited close up of her face, but because I’m all about keeping it real – here you go. The lighting isn’t the exact same and the picture on the right is after the procedure so you’ll see some battle wounds, but where you’ll see the difference is the texture of my forehead and between my brows in the left (after) and the right (before and right after treatment). Before has a much more orange peel -like texture to it. I also have a clearer overall healthy glow to me. I got compliments from people on day three saying they could see a difference.
What you can’t see is that my skin overall feels more plump and a little more dense – which is a good thing! That collagen turned itself on and did what it was supposed to do. I expect results to continue even in the next few weeks.
One treatment won’t change the world, but I am really liking where this is going. Particularly in the texture and density of my skin. I am also going to treat my neck to help with collagen production that dips once you reach your 30s. I’m pumped (and plumped) about this one, friends! Edit: I’ve since done countless rounds on my face, neck and chest. It is now my hands-down most favorite treatment for the value!
Have you done microneedling or PRP before? Interested in learning more? Drop us a line in the comments.
*Disclosure: I received these treatments at Juvly Aesthetics as an employee however ReadHead recommendations of services are based on the experience as a client, first and are always unbiased and honest.