They say that when a Kardashian sneezes, the entire beauty world catches a cold. So when Kim Kardashian’s selfie image of her blood-splattered face hit social media, people around the world lined up in their droves to experience the latest beauty trend, the so-called “vampire facial”; injecting PLP (Plasma-Rich Platelets) of your own blood into your face. Now the latest version of the treatment, Factor 4, is available in Adelaide and I’m about to give it a test run.
A bit about me: I am an average 40-something woman who uses a natural, organic skincare range, mostly mineral makeup and try not to put anything too artificial into my body. There’s some pigment on my cheeks (thank you, post-children hormones), a couple of fine lines and wrinkles (thank you, gravity) and a scar on my chin from when I face planted the pavement training for a marathon. Although there’s room for improvement, generally I’m looking ok. I’ve had lovely organic facials, but have never been tempted to try Botox or chemical peels because I worry about the long-term side effects of injecting something foreign into my skin. But, I figure there’s nothing more natural than using your own blood, right?
I find myself at Advanced Cosmetic Medicine on Melbourne Street on a Friday evening, where I am greeted by the lovely Jayne. This is all a bit new for me; it’s more like entering a doctor’s surgery than a beauty salon. Everything is white, bright and sparkling clean. Jayne introduces me to Doctor Rahma Targett, who sets me up on a reclining bed to have my blood taken. It’s all done quickly and hygienically and in ten minutes I’m back out the door.
So whilst I am sleeping that night, the vial that contains my blood is incubated in a machine and centrifuged; spun around at high speeds to separate the plasma platelets from the blood, like separating oil from water, producing your own serum. Any impurities in the blood are left behind and you’re left with what Doctor Targett calls “liquid gold”; the serum with four times more growth factors and protein cytokines, hence the “Factor4” name. This is the stuff that’s going to be infused into my skin.
First thing Saturday morning I am back at the clinic and ready for my first treatment. I am a little bit apprehensive as I lie back on the bed. I have been warned: this therapy involves needles and blood and is not for the faint-hearted! The plasma platelets collected from my blood have been separated into four vials. Four treatments a couple of weeks apart are necessary for the best results. Three of the vials will be frozen and thawed at each of my subsequent treatments. The first is for today’s session.
Jayne puts a numbing cream on my face, which will hopefully help to block some of the pain. She puts extra on the nose and forehead, which are apparently the most sensitive parts.
Whilst we are waiting for the numbing cream to take effect, Doctor Targett shows me the MDerma Dermapen, which is going to make the little holes in my skin through which the plasma platelets will travel deep into my skin at cellular level. It looks pretty much like one of those cleaning tools dentists use, only with an attachment on the end containing a series of tiny needles. It’s clear just from looking that them that they won’t tickle – and that’s what the numbing cream is for I tell myself.
And so we begin; first the cheeks, then the chin, nose and forehead. Does it hurt? Yep, It’s not pleasant, but it’s bearable. Just. Doctor Targett works in little bursts, giving some recovery time to get my breath back in between the bursts. Jayne gives me some stress balls to squeeze with my hands and my glutes get a pretty good workout as I try to keep my face relaxed, breathe deeply and exhale slow and long. The two women crack little jokes to keep me laughing, otherwise I might have cried. It feel a little like a little rotating sandpaper disc. And they are right; the forehead and nose are the most painful bits. The upside of the pain is that it doesn’t last long; once the treatment is done, it doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s not a lingering pain.
The serum is rubbed into my stinging face and it is the best relief. Doctor Targett shows me that the outer layer of my skin is already shedding onto the pillow and tells me to expect more over the next few days. Jayne sets me up with LED light therapy, like a rotating heat lamp over my face, which relieves any discomfort I might still have had. It also stimulates collagen and elastin to plump up my skin and kick start the healing process. I walk out feeling a little self-conscious, but in no pain other than a tightening in my skin like a mild sunburn.
It’s not advisable to wear makeup or go out in the sun for the next 24 hours, so as it’s a hot day I lay pretty low. There’s some sunburn-like redness and a couple of little marks on my face, but it’s not too bad and after that 24-hour period it’s barely noticeable and easily covered with makeup. I was expecting it to be much worse. I don’t see any instant results, but it’s not expected at this stage. Doctor Targett has told me it will take the series of four treatments to get all the benefits and that my skin will continue improving for months after that.
So first impressions are, yes, it’s not the most comfortable process, but it’s carried out very hygienically and professionally. Memories of the discomfort fade quickly and I really look forward to seeing the results of this very unique process and how it will transform my skin.
Stay tuned to Becky’s progress through Factor4 at Advanced Cosmetic Medicine.