Note: Criswell & Criswell is an Agenda partner but this is not a paid feature. This is about my firsthand experience with this specific procedure.
I’m always on the hunt for the least painful, most effective skincare treatments to keep me looking closer to 24 as I creep towards 34, so I’m taking the Agenda audience along with me. I’m basically your beauty guinea pig — I try treatments and tell you about them.
This time I stopped by Criswell & Criswell’s Ballantyne office to get a facial with my own blood and 14 superfine needles repeatedly puncturing my face. You read that correctly.
The procedure, called a vampire facial, is all the rage right now and happens to be seasonally appropriate (boo!) so I gave it a go. Here’s the deal…
What is a vampire facial?
A vampire facial gets its name from the drawing of your own blood for use during the procedure, which is less gory than it sounds. Prior to use, your blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets. The separated yellow “liquid gold” — known as platelet-rich plasma, or PRP — is what will be applied your face.
Sorry, you won’t look like Dracula.
The term vampire facial usually refers to the pairing of PRP topically with microneedling, laser treatments or microdermabrasion.
I went with microneedling — 14 superfine needles puncturing my face over and over again — to hammer home the vampire theme. Yikes.
What is microneedling?
Microneedling is the use of a superfine needle gun to repeatedly puncture the skin. The idea is to create thousands of micro-injuries that stimulate your skin’s natural wound-healing process, resulting in fresher, healthier, better-looking skin.
A numbing agent is applied to your face prior to microneedling to make the procedure more comfortable.
What are the benefits of PRP and microneedling?
PRP is a hot topic and something of a wonder treatment in the beauty world used for everything from injectable fillers to hair restoration. It’s packed with your own potent growth factors, which can improve the appearance of the skin.
Microneedling creates channels for deeper penetration and absorption of the PRP. Even without PRP, microneedling itself is used for improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars. By repeatedly micro-injuring the skin with needles, collagen production and cell turnover increase.
Does it hurt?
It didn’t hurt me at all. Thanks to the numbing cream, the pulsing needle gun repeatedly poking my face felt like little more than a pleasant vibration across my skin. I almost fell asleep. I’m serious.
Even when she warned me she was about to move to more sensitive areas (temples, upper lip and under eyes), I was perfectly comfortable.
You may hear different, more dramatic accounts of microneedling from others who have experienced the procedure at different places. Your comfort level all comes down to the numbing cream — how strong it is and if it’s allowed enough time to kick in.
Kim Kardashian was famously microneedled WITHOUT NUMBING CREAM (because she was pregnant) and said it was so bad she would never do the procedure again. So this piece is critical.
Criswell & Criswell uses a very strong lidocaine to numb the skin and I was left to lay around for about 30 minutes for it to kick in before beginning. I was extremely comfortable as a result.
Is there any down time?
There’s no mandatory medical down time but you won’t feel your most presentable for the first 24 hours.
Immediately after the procedure I was pink to red in some areas (like a sunburn) with some minor pinpoint bleeding.
The biggest hurdle is that you’re supposed to leave the PRP to dry on your face for 12-18 hours. It’s like leaving a face mask on overnight. I desperately wanted to wash my face that first night but I waited it out.
The first day after my vampire facial was business as usual (after finally washing my face). I went about my day as usual looking like I had a mild sunburn.
On days 2-3 my skin started to peel and flake, and by day 4-5 I was all clear with my fresh new face.
I did my vampire facial late in the day on a Thursday, which gave me Friday out in the real world with a slightly red face and the weekend to peel so that I was back to normal at the start of the following week. I thought it was perfect timing.
How long does it take?
End to end, it’ll usually take around an hour, but I’d budget more like 90 minutes for check in, photos, changing, etc. The bulk of that time is spent laying down waiting for your numbing cream to kick in — about 30 minutes — before beginning the microneedling.
How often should I do it?
Microneedling treatments should be paced at least one month apart.
How much does it cost?
Microneedling is $350 per treatment or $1,000 for a package of 3 at Criswell & Criswell. Adding the vampire experience with your own platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an additional $300 per treatment.
Are you sure it doesn’t hurt?
Yes. I’m telling you, it was fine. When people asked me about it immediately afterwards, I described it as “soothing.” Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Or perhaps the better gauge is this — would I do it again? Absolutely.