Halloween is everywhere. Advertisements for haunted houses are all over our Facebook feeds, pumpkin spiced foods are stacked high in grocery stores and movie theater marquees bear the names of classic scary movies. This year, celebration of the holiday can even be incorporated into your skin regimen.
I’ve been hearing about the ever-so-popular vampire facial for a while. People who have tried it rave about its mystical power to leave the skin glowing like no other treatment. I decided to put my best face forward and give it a whirl during the spookiest month of the year.
The technical term for this kind of treatment is a platelet rich plasma facial. Vampire facial is more fun.
First, you get your blood drawn from your arm. Then your blood is spun and the PRP is extracted. Platelets are the components in your blood that gather at the site of damaged blood vessels to stop bleeding. The PRP is then placed on your face, and microneedling allows the substance to permeate your skin more deeply. This helps to promote collagen growth and tissue regeneration, naturally smoothing and tightening the skin. (Controlled scientific studies of the effectiveness of PRP for rejuvenating skin are limited, but there's evidence that it works.)
I was a little nervous. If anything went wrong, it would be hard to hide it, since it involves the face. When I conducted some research on the internet and asked around, one place kept coming up: Refine Medical Spa in Southlake. I chose it because it seems to be a go-to spot for these facials and planned to treat myself afterward for undergoing the stressful process of having blood drawn.
A nice woman named Lori greeted me in the lobby and got right down to business numbing my face. Kerri Swiggart gave me the actual treatment. She's a physician assistant and had already done two vampire facials that morning before I walked in the door.
Swiggart started putting the tourniquet on my arm of choice, and I looked away, anxiously awaiting the jab. My eyes were squeezed tight long after she was finished. She told me I could open them. I looked at her and gleefully exclaimed, “That’s it?” I was flooded with relief. Now it was time to sit back and let my face go numb.
A few minutes later, Swiggart brought in my test tube of liquid gold. That’s what your blood looks like once it has been spun to produce PRP. She then escorted me to a different room. This one felt like a relaxing day spa.
I laid back as Swiggart washed my face and then began microneedling it, using a device covered with tiny, shallow needles to essentially poke holes in the surface of the skin. Then a second round of the microneedling took place with the PRP on the skin.
Swiggart warned me I might feel a burning sensation during the microneedling. I didn't. Of course there were some uncomfortable parts — when the needles went over the less fatty bits of the face like the bridge of my nose and my forehead — but at no point did I want her to stop.
The holes created through the process are therapeutic, Swiggart told me, as they cause a micro injury. This in turn prompts skin to stimulate collagen production, filling in fine lines, plumping the skin and helping the skin look younger. The whole process took about 15 minutes.
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I was eager to check out the results in a mirror once Swiggart was finished. I was definitely red, and there were some bloody spots, but I wasn’t alarmed when I saw my reflection.
Afterward, when I went through the Starbucks drive-thru for my planned reward, the barista told me my skin looked great and I looked like I had just gotten back from the beach. I was sitting in my shadowy car, but I’m glad my face didn’t give her a fright.
It’s been 48 hours since the procedure, and my face is nearly back to normal. Swiggart said there could be some flaking for a few days and continued redness, but — knock on wood — I haven’t experienced that. She said in about two to three weeks I'll start to notice that desired glow.
The literature the staff gave me to read ahead of time and the way they communicated what was happening at each step during my visit made the facial much less scary than I had anticipated. Managing expectations really was the key here, and they excelled. I think I may have found a new beloved Halloween tradition.