The Vampire Facelift is Real

Real, real silly.

In academic medicine, part of my days are spent reviewing and making suggestions for improving medical studies that are about to published. A few weeks ago, one of the main journals in plastic surgery (that I can’t name yet due to an embargo before publication) came across my desk. It was a study about using a patient’s own cells from taken from their blood, now known—due to Kim Kardashian posting the above Instagram photo to her more than 12 million followers—as the “Vampire Facelift.” The study will be published in the late spring, but here’s my take:

First, the Vampire Facelift is actually is not a facelift at all. It’s a non-invasive procedure to rejuvenate the face that does not involve incisions or the classic facelift scars that extend around the ear. Basically, it’s a non-surgical cosmetic rejuvenation of the face through injection of a platelet-rich plasma mixed with a synthetic filler. In reality, the overall process of the so-called Vampire Facelift involves harvesting cells from the patient’s blood and then injecting the mixture back into the patient’s face.

The synthetic mixture is similar to other dermal fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm. Except those fillers have been FDA approved. This procedure, however, has no scientific evidence that examines the long-term effects. It was introduced in 2009 and has not been FDA approved, and most likely will never be because it is not a specific medication. There is still discussion within the medical community over the final outcome. Some doctors are promoting the procedure as a “Fountain of Youth” and say that it improves appearance and has long-lasting results of up to two years, while others suggest that it fares no better than conventional fillers.

If you are interested in facial fillers, I recommend the FDA-approved synthetic fillers or what my colleagues and I have been using lately, which is a patient’s own fat transferred from another part of the body using liposuction. This, too, can soften wrinkles. It’s known as fat grafting. Whichever procedure you choose, it will cost you. The average price of fillers in the Boston area can range from $600 to $1,200, while the average price of the Vampire Facelift starts around $1,100. Fat grafting for the face can start anywhere between $2,000 and $7,000.