Thursday 24 July 2014

Will you be a sucker for the vampire facial?

Fionnuala McCarthy

Published 13/05/2013|09:53

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Does having your own blood injected back into their face actually work?

It’s the latest cosmetic procedure causing a buzz, but does PRP (it’s actual name) live up to the headlines it's generated?

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When Kim Kardashian posted a photo of herself on Instagram with a bloodied face post treatment, it went viral and made headlines around the world.

Suddenly the Vampire Facial, as it has been dubbed, became a talking point.  All the 2013 Oscar nominees were given a voucher  for the facial in their goodie bag.

Do people actually have their own blood injected back into their face in the name of beauty; and does it actually work?

Actress Anna Friel, another celebrity fan, who looks 10 years younger than her 37 years, explained the appeal for her:

“Vampire facials help your skin heal itself and boosts collagen. It makes my skin really glowy and tight again.”

One person who is very familiar with the vampire facial is Ita Murphy, a registered nurse, who brought the treatment to Ireland in 2006.

She performs the procedure daily on clients who travel from around the country, and some from overseas, to see her at The Otto Clinic, which she runs  in Limerick’s Pery Square.

“Vampire Facial is a gimmick title,” she says. “It doesn’t go anywhere to explaining the science behind the treatment.” 

The proper name is Platelet Rich Plasma Facial Rejuvenation- and Ita describes it as 100 per cent safe.

“It is natural, the results are natural, and there is no issue with side effects or your body rejecting it as it’s your blood.’’

The 46-year-old Limerick native, who has the treatment herself, explains the appeal of PRP.

“People who have anti-ageing concerns try things like Botox, and fillers. But they can sometimes leave you looking less like yourself, with no movement in the forehead and over plumped cheeks.”

“When you have PRP you are not altering your face, you still have full movement, you just look yourself, but a lot better and fresher.”

Ita, who now trains other medical professionals on how to perform PRP, keeps before and after photos of all her clients, with their permission, to show new clients during consultation.

The results are impressive.  Areas like sagging necks are restored, thinning lips look plumper (but not in a trout put way) and jowls and foreheads literally look 10 years younger in the after photos she takes six weeks after treatment.


One area that reflects our overall health - the whites of the eyes - look brighter and healthier in all the after photos -– a result of the platelet enriched plasma entering the bloodstream, according to Ita.

PRP is particularly effective under the eyes, Ita says. It is the only  treatment other than surgery  that can help hooded sagging eyelids. It also banishes lines, and smooths out the skin under the eyes, which thins with age. 

One person featured in the before and after photos, is Ita herself.  

She explains: “My eyes were a problem for me, like for many women over 40. They looked crepy and tired and over lined.”

The after photos show what looks like a different woman’s eyes and only you meet Ita, you might believe it is not the same person, the results are that good.

Seeing the photos, I am sold and hand myself over to the care of Ita who assures me, I am going to ‘love’ the treatment.

I am not so sure as I see the syringe coming out, but am 100 per cent confident that the registered nurse knows what she is doing, as she now spends time training people in Harley Street in London on how to perform the treatment.

Anaesthetic cream is applied to my face to numb the area and Ita withdraws about two teaspoons of blood from my arm quickly, with no fanfare.

Then the science bit happens. The blood is placed into a centrifuge for ten minutes   - where it is spun to separate red blood cells from the platelet-rich-plasma.

When it comes out in a vial, Ita shows me the ‘liquid gold’, as she terms it, the part of the blood that contains contain growth factors which aid healing and produce collagen to plump the skin.

She quickly pops it in the syringe and gets to work on my now numb face. She works quickly injecting the plasma into my problem areas - below my eyes, around  my mouth and nasal area, into my neck, all the while getting me to breath one, two, three, out, one two three, out. The final drops of plasma go into my lips. Ouch!

It is over in less than five minutes. So was it painful? As someone with a low pain threshold, I can safely say no, it wasn’t.

But I am not finished yet. Next comes the radio frequency machine. Basically a warm massage roller is applied over my face for about 10 minutes, aiding the plasma to get to work in the dermis rejuvenating my skin. It is used on its own effectively for skin tightening, lifting and contouring.

So how do I look? Apart from a little tender with some swelling around my eyes, I am good to go once Ita applies some foundation to my face. It is used especially for post cosmetic procedures, to reduce redness and inflammation.

And the results – for the final reveal, I have to wait six weeks, so it is early days for me.

But I definitely see a huge difference in my face after one week. My skin looks fresher and tighter, the lines under my eyes are half of what they were, and I feel I look so much better.

I meet a friend I haven’t seen since I had the treatment. Straight away she says I look great, that my skin is terrific – did I have a facial? You could say that, I tell her.

Mycells PRP treatment at the Otto Clinic costs from €500.


The Otto Clinic, No 3 Pery Square, Limerick.

Tel: 061 317678




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