I Tried Kim Kardashian's Crazy Vampire Facial
What are the beauty benefits of injecting yourself with your own blood?
Kim Kardashian has a tendency to break the internet. Whether she goes platinum blonde, nude on a magazine cover or crops baby North out of an Instagram selfie, the web goes nuts over anything she does. She made headlines after an episode of Kourtney and Kim Take Miami in 2013, when the reality star voluntarily had her face poked with multiple small needles filled with her own blood.
The procedure, dubbed a "vampire facial," uses platelet-rich plasma to stimulate collagen and elastin growth. It's supposed to result in fuller-looking, glowing skin, promote scar healing, fill wrinkles and banish blemishes. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to try Kardashian's facial myself with Dr. Ellen Lebow as part of Turnberry Isle Miami's Optimal Wellness Program.
There are a couple of ways to do this process—Kardashian used a variation of the Dermapen, an instrument with multiple needles activated at once. My facial involved multiple syringes and individual injections. On the day of the procedure, I had about 30ccs of blood drawn and spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets. Before each injection, calcium gluconate was added to activate growth factors in the platelets to stimulate regeneration in trouble areas. This sounds simple enough until you get to the psychological freakout that happens right before going in. I didn't watch the video of Kardashian getting her vampire facial—that was a smart move. She's wincing, crying and covered in dripping blood. See what had people talking:
Dr. Lebow insisted that this was all sensationalized for TV, naturally, and because I didn't see the clip I had no clue what to expect. I'm going to be honest here—it definitely hurt. The needles went just under the surface of skin on my chin, cheeks, temples and just a bit on my forehead. The aching started immediately but wasn't unbearable. I'd say the radiating pain felt like a bad toothache or pulsating migraine wherever I was injected. I took a few breaks during the hour-long process to press my face with a cold cloth (some clinics do the process in half an hour, but I actually preferred having time to breathe).
After the injections, a dermaroller—a tiny instrument equipped with microneedles that feel like rough exfoliation on the skin—was rolled over my face to kickstart the wound-healing process and stimulate collagen production. Lastly, the remainder of the plasma was brushed on to my face like a serum. It dried clear and made my face feel taut. Because it's recommended to sleep with it overnight, I actually ended up wearing it through dinner that evening. There was not nearly as much blood spill as appeared on TV and I only had slight redness and swelling. I went without makeup for a day to recover and was back to normal, no lingering pain, in two days.
My goal in testing this facial out was to treat acne and acne scarring I've had over the years. Results are supposed to start showing in three weeks and fully after three months. I found that it didn't help much at all for my breakouts (although that could very well be attributed to diet and hormone fluctuations).
After three weeks, however, I am happy to notice plumper skin and faded scars. It's not dramatically different—typically, patients are advised to come back for multiple treatments for the full effect—but I do notice a more even skin tone. Of course, it's not for everyone (pain aside, the facial's price is typically $1,000 to $2,000), but after having done it once, I am impressed—and have quite the conversation starter.