Friday, March 8, 2013

Vampire Facelifts Have Many Curious And Others Scared

by Andrea L. Algar
Contributing Author

Just the term "vampire" used with facelift is a scary thought. News of this new technique is getting quite a lot of attention due to the unique marketing name associated with it. But just what is "vampire facelift"?

"Vampire" to most people
Photo Credit:
To best answer that we need to take a look at the reasons that men and women seek out facelifts in the first place. Most commonly, the reasons are aging, sagging skin that we begin to notice as early as our 40's. The problematic wrinkles, bags and sags seem to multiply at alarming rates from there, causing many to start seeking remedies for what they see as false representations of how many men and women feel when they're in their 40's, 50's and even 60's. Recent polls have, in fact, shown that 70 is now seen as the new "middle age"!

But, wrinkles and sagging skin is often accompanied with a loss of fat under the skin, as well as bone and muscle, causing the face to look more aged. With advent of research into stem cells, it has been discovered that plasma from your own body can be enhanced and reintroduced, providing platelets that are rich and rejuvenating, with human growth factors that can repair and rebuild tissue. They've labeled this PRP (platelet rich plasma), which essentially is blood plasma that has been enriched by platelets.

A "vampire facelift" is a fat transfer procedure that combines your own fat, usually obtained by liposuction, and PRP obtained from your own blood.

We already know from years of successful fat transfers, that fat is rich in stem cells. When fat is transferred, these cells take on the characteristics of the cells around them. Fat transfer has been successful when used in the face for many years, however, with the new ability to introduce the PRP along with the fat, it is said that this process stimulates the stem cells to do what they do best, which is to multiply. Multiplying cells means volume to our face. Some research has shown improvement in blood supply and circulation as well.

Fat transfer alone is helpful for many areas of the face including cheeks, temples, forehead, around the eyes, lips, jowls and almost anywhere that there is significant loss of fat. Replacing the volume with fat injection is often a part of a planned facelift, where the facelift can tighten the skin, the fat replacement provides a more youthful, fresh look. The one-two-three punch of the "vampire facelift" could provide much needed volume from the fat, as well as growth factors from PRP and new cells from the stem cells.

Dr. Robert N. Young of San Antonio cautions, "While more hands-on experience with PRP and fat transfer is needed in order to assess longevity and patient satisfaction, it is a procedure worth watching. As we learn more about stem cells and how they can best be utilized, we will undoubtedly improve on these techniques and the outcomes that can be achieved. As with any new procedure, it is often wise to wait until some of the quirks are worked out." While the volume is instant, not all volume is kept with fat transfers, and it can take several months to a year to see the final effects. This could result in patient disappointment if their expectations are not met. Many callers to Dr. Young's practice have expressed disappointment in thread lifts and other "quick fixes" that don't necessarily give the long-term results desired, which is one reason that traditional facelifts and fat injections have remained very popular.