Recently Kim Kardashian grossed everyone out on the Internet by Instagraming the above photo of her face covered in a red substance that appeared to be blood. "#VampireFacial," she captioned the image. What, exactly, is she smoking? America collectively wondered. Veteran Madison Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Theodore Diktaban jumped on the phone with me to explain WTF Kardashian's latest highly successful publicity ploy is all about.
What is a blood facial? Do you perform them?
Theodore Diktaban: I do perform them. Basically when you spin blood in a centrifuge, it separates into the red blood cells that fall to the bottom and the plasma part that rises to the top. You take off that plasma part which is rich in platelets which have a lot of anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in growth factors, and you can inject that by itself. It's called PRP or "platelet rich plasma." Or sometimes you can mix them with other fillers. You can also mix it with your own fat, so think of it as supercharged fat. You're going to use it for volume replacement.
They call it "vampire lift" and all this other stuff. Other people are starting to do more and more with stem cells, which is basically taking fat and, through a process, extracting the stem cells instead of the platelet cells. So it's encouraging stuff.
Why do people do this?
TB: It's natural. Some people do not want some of the other fillers, so it affords them an alternative — a natural substance. It's flowing through our veins and you can extract it — the PRP part, it's not dangerous at all and it's safe. I had it injected into myself, an area of sports inflammation, and it knocked it out and that was a good result.
We need more studies to show the real efficacies. Most of the stuff we know now is anecdotal.
How long has this been around?
TB: A couple years. One company is pushing it as the "vampire lift." But you're not injecting blood, you're injecting a component of the blood.
I guess you think of it as red wine or white wine. You inject the white. (I just came up with that.)
Good one. So, if this just involves injecting a clear substance into the face why does Kim Kardashian look like she smeared blood on her face?
TB: That's not how you inject it, unless you had put it on topically. Most of the time you'd inject it like you do other fillers. It doesn't look like someone dripped blood, it almost looks like she had some facial resurfacing or something. It almost looks like dermabrasion — real deep dermabrasion. She could have matted [the red component] out with the towel to give that appearance. It's hard to make heads or tails of what she's doing. Maybe they gave her the red component and she went for the drama. Which we know she's capable of.
Right, so there's no point in smearing blood on the face, is what you're saying.
TB: I'm not sure what if any benefit there would be with the red cells. Maybe i'll start doing it to myself — draw my own blood and put it on.
Kim Kardashian is 32 — does that seem like a good age for this?
TB: That's starting a little too early. Most likely, late 30s on up is a good age. That's typical because the aging process really starts to accelerate when we get into our fourth ticket of life, so that's when you want to start considering doing more maintenance.
And of course she's pregnant. Should pregnant women do this blood facial business or get other fillers while they're with child?
TB: Well it's your own blood. I wouldn't mix it with the other fillers. But in general I would say, because I'm on the conservative side, leave well enough alone. You don't need to do this riht now — can't you wait another few months? God forbid something happens — people will say, oh was it the PRP that triggered the miscarriage, it was the PRP that caused whatever birth defect.
Does it hurt?
TB:It's not any different than a regular facial, in terms of the other fillers. Because you're going to be using the same instrumentation, so it's no different whether you're injecting the liquid of a plasma or the others which is more like a gel.
Are people running in the door asking for blood facials now that the number one Kardashian is publicizing it?
TB:I've had a few people inquire but they're not necessarily interested in doing it. They're more interested in finding out what's behind all this. Most people would be put off by blood on their faces. Obviously as a physician I'm used to seeing blood on an everyday basis, but for other people they're like, oh you've got to be kidding me.
You don't say.