The truth about Kim Kardashian's favourite Vampire Facials
Having blood injected into your face is the celebrity treatment de jour. But now the science behind the rationale has got the backing of top medics and sports stars like Tiger Woods. Meet the woman who brought the treatment to Ireland
Where Michael Mosley leads, many people follow. The British doctor devised the hugely popular 5:2 diet, an intermittent fasting plan that proved you could eat well and still lose weight. Now the influential medic has turned his attention to an anti-ageing treatment that promises to turn back the clock and which has its roots in solid scientific research, the so-called 'vampire' facial - or, to give it its proper name, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment.
Mosley had PRP done as part of a BBC4 documentary, The Wonderful World of Blood, which was broadcast last night. In doing so, he examined what has long been regarded as a bit of an insider secret. Even though PRP has some high-profile fans - including Kim Kardashian, who posted a picture of her bloodied face post-treatment, and actress Anna Friel - the notion of injecting your face with your own blood is a step too far for many. It sounds both gruesome and gimmicky. But proponents point to the fact that PRP has been used for years to help with wound healing and to treat sports-related injuries - Rafael Nadal is said to be a fan - and that trials to see if PRP can accelerate wound repair in type 2 diabetics, who have slower healing capabilities, have indicated that it works.
Registered nurse Ita Murphy, who runs the Otto Clinic in Limerick, has no doubts as to PRP's rejuvenating abilities. She was the first person to bring the treatment to Ireland in 2006 and now trains doctors in the UK in how to perform the procedure. "This is a specialised medical treatment that is absolutely safe," she says. "If you want to reduce ageing and turn back the clock naturally and safely, this is the only way to do it."
The process entails having 10ml of blood removed from your arm - no more than you would have taken during a blood test - which is then placed into a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the blood red cells.
"We're left with this golden-coloured plasma which contains your own natural growth factors and your stem cells and that's what regenerates our cells and stimulates collagen to give that fresh youthful look," Ita explains.
The plasma is injected in tiny quantities where it's needed in the face and the numbing cream that is applied in advance means any pain is minimal.
One of PRP's great advantages is that there is hardly any recovery time required. Some people may suffer some bruising but others can go straight back to work. It's also one of the few treatments - apart from surgery - that will work on hooded eyelids, as well as being effective for scarring. But by far, PRPs greatest appeal is that unlike many other cosmetic procedures, you won't look as if you've had any 'work' done. For this reason it's the most popular treatment for the Otto Clinic's male attendees - who make up 40pc of its clientele.
"The reason for that is because it keeps them young looking without changing the dynamic of the face. They have full movement," Ita says.
Whereas Botox works because it freezes the muscle, PRP is in keeping with the growing trend for a more natural look.
"We're now looking for a youthful appearance and the new thinking is more towards fullness of the face and glowing skin. It's the loss of volume in our face that is ageing. A little line and movement allowing facial expression is quite nice and that's the benefit of PRP over Botox," Ita says.
One convert to PRP is Louise*, a 42-year-old Dublin mum who had her first treatment two years ago.
"I've two children, I'm working and I'm sleep deprived and since turning 40 I've really seen the effects on my face. I look like an older woman," she says.
Louise had tried Botox and didn't like the results, and after extensive internet research came across PRP at the Otto Clinic. Post-treatment, she was pleased at the number of comments she received about how fresh-faced she looked
"I felt l looked like I'd just come back from holidays. I had a very rested look but the great thing was the effects continued to show to and develop over the following weeks.
"When I returned to Ita six weeks later and she took an after photo for me, I couldn't believe how different my face was. I saw smoother, brighter skin, my face was plumper and I just looked like a much healthier and younger version of myself."
As for Dr Mosley, he was back on the street doing a piece-to-camera one hour after his treatment but appears to be on the fence about PRP.
"A couple of weeks later, just as promised, there were some subtle changes. For maximum effect I should apparently have had a least one more treatment, but at about £600 a go, the improvement was not impressive enough to make me want to do it again," he says.
In the case of the many of fans of PRP who have seen and like their results, they would beg to differ with the good doctor.
The cost of PRP at the Otto Clinic is €500, which also includes a radiofrequency treatment, as well as a follow-up visit. The effects should last a year.
It was money well-spent for Louise, who has cut back on other cosmetic expenditures in its favour.
"I'm no longer buying expensive products any more and I'm keeping my money for PRP because it's far more effective than an expensive eye cream. It's given me back my confidence," she says.