Fashion Tribe: ‘Vampire’ secret to eternal youth

Sep. 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comRN Greta Torok draws blood from Martha Keith during a demonstration of the Vampire Facelift procedure at Honolulu MedSpa.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Nurse Greta Torok draws blood from Martha Keith during a demonstration of the Vampire Facelift procedure at Honolulu MedSpa.

BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

From the birth of 19th-century vampire fiction through today, the specter of the blood-drinking undead has captivated mere mortals. In earlier times, vampires were creatures to fear. As portrayed in contemporary media — in everything from the “Twilight” book and film franchise to cable TV series — they are beings to admire for their eternal youth and beauty.

Now physicians offering skin and beauty treatments have taken inspiration from the vampire myth to come up with a novel way for men and women to maintain their youthful countenance. While the old stories speak of drinking blood as the vampire’s sustaining factor, Alabama emergency room physician Charles Runels devised a way to incorporate an individual’s own blood-derived growth factors to rejuvenate face and skin. His trademarked procedure is being used in medical spas throughout the world, including here at Honolulu MedSpa in Liliha, which performs Vampire Facelifts and Vampire Facials.

The MedSpa’s founder and medical director Choon Kia Yeo learned of the treatment last year after Kim Kardashian had a semblance of the procedure done for the cameras on an episode of “Kim and Kourtney Take Miami.” The reality-TV star released dramatic photos of blood smeared across her face, which had nothing to do with the reality of the procedure. But since then, it’s become a popular procedure in Hollywood.

There is already precedence for use of micro-­needling and fillers to rejuvenate the skin and give faces more youthful contours. The only thing new is that instead of a commercial product or filler, with the Vampire Facial and Facelift, the substance used is a patient’s own blood, containing his or her own antibodies, enzymes, lipids, stem cells and human growth factors which Yeo calls “fertilizer for the skin.”

The blood is put into a centrifuge to separate its components and the yellowish blood plasma is used for the Vampire treatments.

The blood is put into a centrifuge to separate its components and the yellowish blood plasma is used for the Vampire treatments.

To start, a registered nurse draws 10 cubic centimeters of blood, enough to fill a test tube. The blood is placed in a centrifuge to separate platelets from red blood cells to yield five cubic centimeters of PRP, or platelet-rich blood plasma — a yellowish viscous liquid — to be used in facial or facelift procedures.

The plasma is injected into the skin through a micro-­needling process for the Vampire Facial, devised to improve the skin’s appearance, or combined with a filler product such as Juvéderm for the facelift procedure, which resculpts the face.

For the 45-minute facial, which costs $650 at Hono­lulu MedSpa, the micro-­needling employs the counterintuitive knowledge that injuring the skin with tiny perforations speeds improvement as the body rushes to repair the injury by producing collagen and elastin.

Emiko Miyazawa has the less invasive Vampire Facial, which involves use of a micropen to deliver the blood plasma serum through a series of micro needle perforations. After applying numbing cream, she described the sensation as being "prickly" but not painful.

Emiko Miyazawa has the less invasive Vampire Facial, which involves use of a micropen to deliver the blood plasma serum through a series of micro needle perforations. After applying numbing cream, she described the sensation as being “prickly” but not painful.

The blood plasma is spread over the skin, and a micropen containing 11 tiny needles is used to deliver the nutrient-rich plasma into the skin. Topical anesthesia is used to numb the skin to what patients describe as a “prickling sensation.”

The facelift, at $1,500, includes one syringe of a Juvéderm filler. The results are said to last up to 12 months, and up to two years for Juvederm Voluma XC, which is offered as an upgrade.

During the facelift, a patient’s plasma is mixed with Juvederm and injected with a blunt-tip cannula in areas of the face that need volume to re-create the taut fullness of youth. The filler provides the scaffolding that elevates skin, while the PRP is said to help stimulate tissue growth, although evidence of PRP’s effects have been anecdotal.

Honolulu MedSpa is at 1650 Liliha Street, Suite 102. Call (808) 528-0888.
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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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