Women are ironing out wrinkles and rejuvenating their skin with injections of their own blood.
The procedure – dubbed the “vampire facelift” – involves taking a blood sample from the patient’s arm and putting it through a machine which separates out the platelets.
These are tiny fragments of cells which circulate in the blood and are filled with hormones and proteins.
They are responsible for making the blood clot when we get a cut or bruise. But also at high concentrations they are thought to stimulate the skin to repair itself. These platelets are then injected into the face.
The procedure has had impressive results in America and is now being offered by clinics in the UK.
Taimur Shoaib, a consultant plastic surgeon who offers the treatment in three £400 ($625) sessions at his clinic La Belle Forme in Edinburgh, has performed the procedure on several hundred men and women since launching it earlier this year.
He said: “It can rejuvenate and repair skin that has environmental damage. It’s good for skin that has been damaged by the sun or smoking and that is dry and damaged and wrinkled. This appeals to people because it’s a natural product.”
At Bassim Matti’s clinic in Harley Street, 28 patients have had the treatment paying £1,500 ($2,350) for a series of injections covering the face.
Reza Nassab, a registrar in plastic surgery at the clinic, said after six months 60% of the patients were still very satisfied with the results.
He said 40% did not see much of an effect, but staff were hoping to improve the results by changing the concentration of the platelets.
Reza Nassab said: “This treatment is called PRP or platelet rich plasma, but people call it the Vampire facelift. The platelets have growth factors within them. When they are injected into the face, the growth factors are thought to stimulate collagen and other things which help to rejuvenate and regenerate the skin.”
Platelet transfusions have long been used in reconstructive surgery, but this is their first use as a cosmetic treatment.
In experiments on rats injected with platelets, scientists found high concentrations increased the number of collagen fibres in their skin and improved skin quality.
Reza Nassab, who presented the results at the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons scientific meeting in London, said he believed it worked the same way in humans.
He said: “It’s using your own blood, a technique which has been used in medicine for a long time, to give your skin a boost.”