by Guest Blogger Dr. Vincent Wong, La Maison de l’Esthetique (www.lesthetique.co.uk)
Dracula Therapy, also known as Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy or PRP for short, adds a breath of fresh air into a medical aesthetics practitioner’s armamentarium, as it is the first aesthetics treatment in the world that is 100% autologous. PRP has been used in Medicine and Surgery since 1975. It has been proven to be very effective in repairing tendons, improving skin graft take and in helping chronic wounds to heal. However, its use in aesthetics is very new and it has become the latest in anti-ageing at the moment.
So, what is Platelet-Rich Plasma? Our blood can be divided into two parts – firstly, the cellular part with red blood cells and white blood cells, and secondly, the fluid part which is known as plasma. Apart from acting as a medium for the cells to float in, plasma contains a lot of nutrients and breakdown products. Platelets, on the other hand, are cells in their own right but originate as fragments of white blood cells and have a life span of 5-9 days in the body. Hence, platelet-rich plasma is, as the name suggests, plasma that has a high concentration of platelets.
In aesthetics, we utilize the power of platelets to improve the appearance of the face. By releasing growth factors, platelets have the ability to stimulate DNA repair, stem cell proliferation and differentiation. We aim to achieve skin rejuvenation by injecting activated platelet under normal skin, a place where activated platelets would never have been found otherwise. When injected under normal or aged skin, the platelets will kick start a repair process that is tailor-made to that specific area. In aged skin for example, the growth factors will stimulate more collagen and elastin production, resulting in firmer, thicker and younger-looking skin with a subtle lift.
Scars are the end result of an injury or trauma. The body generally heals these areas so that the integrity and function of the skin is maintained and preserved. However, physiological healing and aesthetical healing are different. Scars are the product of physiological healing. The wounds are healed to a point where the body believes that sufficient healing has taken place and the skin is intact once again. However, these areas are not aesthetically pleasing and generally lack collagen. With PRP treatment, the platelets will stimulate the ‘extended phase’ of healing that has been missed by the body. The lack of collagen will be detected and rectified.
During the procedure, a small sample of blood is collected. This is then placed in a centrifuge in order to separate the blood cells from the plasma. The plasma is then carefully extracted and mixed with a calcium solution (activator) before being injected back to the face. The total time for the procedure (including numbing) is about one hour.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is not a one-off quick fix treatment. The aim is to achieve gradual improvement in the quality of the skin. Although the frequency of treatment varies incredibly from individual to individual, 2-3 treatments are generally required with treatments spaced at least 3 months apart. You will start seeing the effects around 8 weeks after the first treatment, and the effects will continue to improve for a few months. The effectiveness of PRP depends heavily on client’s general health, age, the extent of skin damage and lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Heavy smokers and those who drink beyond the recommended limits are less likely to benefit from the treatment. In severe cases of ageing or scarring, it is a common practice to combine PRP with an existing treatment (e.g. Derma Roller, dermal filler or laser techniques) to achieve an enhanced effect.