Sunday, 8 June 2014

Vampire therapy: A bloody glow

The before (left) and after photos of a patient who underwent PRP injections. –Dr Chen Tai Ho

The before (left) and after photos of a patient who underwent PRP injections. –Dr Chen Tai Ho

Also known as vampire therapy, platelet-rich plasma injections are popularly used to restore the radiance of your skin.

Throughout history, many civilisations have extolled the properties of youthful blood, with children sacrificed and the blood of defeated warriors drunk by the victors.

When you think of Dracula or vampires, you’ll probably conjure up images of evil blood-sucking creatures lurking in the shadow of the night, creeping stealthily towards the soon-to-be maiden in distress.

But when I think of vampire therapy, I think of the latest fad in beauty.

Every now and then, the beauty industry throws us a revolutionary, exciting way of turning back time and restoring youth.

One fine example of this is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which was hailed by none other than Kim Kardashian.

This celebrity posted a heart-stopping picture post-treatment to show the specks of blood on her skin, and while it does appear rather macabre, it has become the latest sought-after treatment in Hollywood.

Also called vampire therapy or Dracula therapy, PRP injections were first used in 1987 in open heart surgery.

Today, PRP injections have been safely used in many medical areas, including sports medicine, orthopaedics, faciomaxillary (head, neck, face, jaw and sinuses) surgery and urology.

Increasingly, the benefits of PRP are being used in beauty worldwide, including in Malaysia. It is used as a method to restore youthfulness, reduce wrinkles and hair loss, reverse sagging, reducing acne scars and adding volume to the face or other body parts, leading to a fresher look in the months following treatment.

What about PRP?

Blood contains plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Plasma is the colourless watery fluid of the blood and lymph that does not contain any cells.

Platelets are small cells shaped like the plates found in your kitchen, hence its name. They contain clotting and growth factors.

During the healing process, the platelets are activated and aggregate together. They then release growth factors that stimulate the healing process.

Such growth factors come in handy when trying to fight the signs of ageing.

Blood typically contains 6% platelets, whereas PRP has a significantly increased concentration of platelets.

Although this level can vary depending on the method of extraction and equipment, studies have shown that clinical benefit can be obtained if the PRP used has an increased platelet concentration of four times greater than normal blood.

To obtain the platelet-rich plasma, doctors first draw 20 to 30 millilitres of your own blood using a syringe. No fangs or claws involved here.

However, for some people, especially ladies with very fine veins, drawing blood can be even more difficult than climbing up the stairs of the 88-storey Kuala Lumpur Tower blindfolded!

Next, the blood is placed in a special tube and centrifuged at high speeds for 20 minutes to separate the blood into different layers.

The lighter platelet-containing plasma floats to the top, whereas the heavier cells sink to the bottom.

We then extract out the plasma goodness and discard the unwanted cells.

The PRP is now ready to be injected back in the places that need the most attention.

Natural anti-ageing

PRP can be used on the face, neck, scalp, hands or any other body part that needs some tender loving care.

It encourages your body to use its own natural processes, but more effectively, in areas that need a bit of extra help.

Your skin will get more natural radiance and a wonderful glow. Friends and family may start noticing you look fresher and more rejuvenated.

This is a more natural way of anti-ageing, due to the fact that you’re using your body’s own material, and that the results develop over time.

In terms of looking more youthful, you’ll have to be a bit patient as our body needs time for the rejuvenation process.

Those who are younger or lead healthy livestyles, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking or consuming alcohol, will get better and quicker results as their healing process is more efficient and adept.

Gradually, your skin will have a subtle improvement that will give you a fresher look than before, without having to put anything foreign into your body.

To reduce any potential discomfort, your friendly neighbourhood aesthetic physician may apply some numbing cream on the areas to be treated before the PRP injection.

Side effects of this treatment are usually due to the injection process itself, namely, mild redness, swelling, bruising or needle marks.

These tend to fade away within a week and can be camouflaged by applying foundation or make-up.

To hasten the recovery process, you may apply ice packs over any areas of discomfort or swelling.

You may also want to avoid the local swimming pool while in the process of healing to prevent any infections.

And don’t touch the treatment area with those grubby fingers of yours!

For best results, you may have three to four sessions of PRP, done either once a fortnight or once a month, followed by maintenance sessions several times a year.

Some people may combine PRP with other aesthetic treatments such as dermal fillers, Botulinum Toxin A or lasers for even better results.

Fancy a date with Dr Dracula, anyone?

Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping espresso latte when he’s not attending to his beloved patients. For further information, e-mail The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Tags / Keywords: Health , Aesthetically Yours , vampire therapy , platelet rich plasma therapy , aesthetic medicine , beauty , anti aging


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