Leave it to Kim Kardashian to push the envelope yet again on questionable beauty treatments. Remember Quick Trim and the Botox she had at 31? Well now, Kardashian has publicized a cringe-inducing “vampire facial” she had on her reality show—see the video above—that involves a messy amount of blood.
The facial involves drawing two teaspoonfuls of blood from the arm, spinning it down to separate out a layer filled with platelets, growth factors, and a few stray stem cells, and reinjecting that mixture through tiny needles all over the face to purportedly rebuild collagen and smooth skin.
Does it work and is it risky?
“There’s not a lot of science behind it,” said Dr. Joseph Merola, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “In theory, growth factors will thicken the skin’s outer dermis, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and provide some rejuvenation, but all of these cells in the skin are already bathed in blood and perfused with these growth factors.”
Whether injecting these factors directly to facial areas will repair or reverse the aging process remains speculative at best.
Infections are a potential risk, Merola added, especially if the procedure is performed at a medical spa with little medical supervision. Massachusetts doesn’t require medical spas to be licensed or regulated if they’re owned by or affiliated with a physician—and a doctor isn’t required to be physically present at the spa while procedures are perfomed.
Merola doesn’t do vampire facials and hadn’t heard of anyone in the area doing them. “It’s more for New York and LA,” he said.
But Dr. Jeff Spiegel, a Chestnut Hill plastic surgeon, said he’s done a few of these procedures over the years—charging about $1,000—though he’s not a big fan. “The concept is very attractive,” he said, “to take the body’s own fluid with certain healing properties and inject it into areas to help rebuild collagen.”
Unfortunately, the results are totally unpredictable. “Anytime you inject fluid in the face, you’ll see some improvement in the skin’s appearance, but they may last only three or four days,” Spiegel said. “Some people may have longer-lasting results but how much improvement they’ll have is hard to quantify.”
He said that’s often the case with trendy treatments that aren’t fully embraced by the medical establishment.
Dermal fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic purposes typically last four to eight months.
Bottom line: There’s no reliable evidence that vampire facials will work, but if you decide to try one, make sure to do so under a doctor’s care—preferably one who offers a range of cosmetic facial treatments. Don’t expect dramatic or long-lasting results.