PRP Microneedling for Skin Lightening

Skin hyperpigmentation is as old as humanity. Luckily, the demand for beautiful and flawless skin has led to the discovery and development of several skincare and beauty procedures. One such procedure is Microneedling. Even better, today you can go a notch higher and try PRP microneedling for skin lightening. 

Since its invention about two decades ago, microneedling has undergone several improvements which have seen it work well and gain more popularity. The latest development is its combination with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).[1]

Apparently, the combination leads to faster and better results. Is this why the procedure is climbing the charts in the world of beauty and skincare? Here is everything you need to know. 

What is Microneedling

Microneedling is also known as collagen induction therapy. During the procedure, a handheld device (derma-roller) which contains microneedles is used to inflict tiny injuries on the top layer of the skin.

As with any other skin injuries, the puncture wounds trigger the production of collagen and elastin to help the skin to heal naturally. The process of healing, in turn, exfoliates the top layer of the skin, paving the way for lighter skin. 

What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)


Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer, MD
Board Certified Dermatologist,
Skincare and Laser Physicians,
Beverly Hills


Microneedling represents an intersection between regenerative and aesthetic medicine. Let's harness and augment your body's own ability to heal itself. Let's harness it in a way that makes your skin radiant and even-toned.[2]

PRP, which also goes by the name autologous conditioned plasma, is a concentrate of platelets. It's derived from centrifugation of whole blood that involves the removal of red blood cells. The resulting plasma contains a large number of platelets.


Platelets contain growth factors. When re-introduced into the skin, they stimulate the body to repair and heal itself. This accelerates the skin renewal process. As a result, lighter, smoother, and blemish-free skin comes to the surface.

How is PRP Microneedling Done?

PRP microneedling is a specialized skincare treatment. It, therefore, requires the services of a knowledgeable practitioner. The procedure follows a step by step approach to ensure that everything goes according to the required medical standards.[3]

Here are the steps that you should expect;

  1. 1
    Preparation: The practitioner studies the treatment area based on the severity of the skin condition and the expected results. Additionally, he examines your medical history to okay you for the procedure. If everything checks out, he cleanses your skin and administers a local numbing agent, ready for the treatment.
  2. 2
    PRP Isolation: Depending on the size of the treatment area, your doctor draws and prepares the PRP. The process lasts for about 10 minutes under a centrifuge. For a full facial, you may need up to 10 ml of blood from your arm.[5]
  3. 3
    Numbing: This involves administering a topical numbing agent to reduce the pain. Meanwhile, PRP should be separating.
  4. 4
    Microneedling: A dermaroller is used to make micro incisions on the treatment area.
  5. 5
    PRP Application: PRP is applied atop the tiny incisions to accelerate healing and induce collagen synthesis.

During the early development stages of the procedure, the blood was smeared whole on the face. It gave you a bloody appearance, hence the name vampire facial.

The whole process takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Nevertheless, it can take longer depending on the size of the treatment area. PRP activation is directly from the individual receiving the treatment (autologous). Anyone can, therefore, be a candidate- unless contraindicated by a doctor or dermatologist.                            

Results and Recovery

Mild stinging and skin tightness may occur after the numbing agent wears off. Moreover, the tiny bruises on your skin are likely to swell and redden, giving you a sunburned look. 

In a day or two, your appearance will improve as the skin peels off. During this period, you should not poke or pull off any scabs to avoid irritation and infections. Additionally, keep off direct sunlight and harsh topical creams or makeup.

By the end of the third day, collagen production will have started, which accelerates the healing process. Different individuals heal at different rates, but the recovery period typically lasts for not more than 5 to 7 days. The most noticeable improvement will be after about four weeks. You should, however, expect the results to last for several years. 

Tips to Help you Recover Faster      

  • Keep off sunlight and wear sunscreen whenever you venture out into the open during daytime
  • Keep your hands disinfected and avoid activities that will make you hot and sweaty
  • Avoid the use of exfoliants, harsh creams and alcohol-based skincare products. Instead, only use water and mild cleansers.
  • Enrich your diet with vitamin C boosting foods. Vitamin C is responsible for tissue repair and growth. Additionally, it is an antioxidant that will rid your skin of free radicals.[4]   

Conditions Treated by PRP Microneedling

Apart from lightening, PRP microneedling treats various forms of skin hyperpigmentation. Such include issues like melasma and dark spots.

PRP microneedling is also used for skin rejuvenation, treatment of post-traumatic, post-acne, and post-surgical scars. Hypertrophic and post-burn scars, alopecia, stretch marks, and axillary hidrosis can also be treated by PRP activation.[1]

Sessions and Frequency

Your doctor advises on the number of treatment sessions depending on how seriously hyperpigmented your skin is. At times, you may require several sessions every 4-6 weeks to achieve the desired look.

Side Effects of PRP Microneedling

Despite the effectiveness of the treatment in combating dull, rough and hyperpigmented skin, PRP microneedling comes with a few limitations.

Tenderness, Tightness and Itchiness: You usually experience these a few hours or days following the treatment. They typically clear in 72 hours. 

Rashes and Contact Dermatitis: These may result from the use of unsterile equipment, hence the need to shop around for a reputable practitioner.[5]

Reactivation of Acne and Herpes: This may also result from the use of dirty equipment. 

Inflammation: This is common after your skin is pricked and clotting starts to take place. Typically, the swelling subsides in 24 hours to 1 week depending on the size of dermaroller needles.            

Dr. Shoib Myint,

Plastic Surgeon, 

Smith Plastic Surgery,   Las Vegas

There really is no serious side effects as it is our own. Sometimes patients can experience bleeding at the site of blood draw, as well as some redness and discomfort. [6]

Exemptions from the Procedure

Although the procedure is generally safe and not associated with adverse side effects, it's not advisable for;

  • Pregnant women 
  • Patients on anticoagulants, chemo or radiotherapy
  • Persons with warts or such local infections
  • Persons suffering from active acne or extreme keloids

PRP Microneedling and Clinical Trials

Knowing the validity and safety of the process helps you in making an informed decision on whether or not to have the treatment. With that in mind, let's look at a few scientific studies and clinical trials touching on the efficacy of PRP microneedling.

1. In a study comparing the efficacy of microneedling with versus without PRP application, a split-face study of 50 patients with acne scars favoured the use of PRP.

40 % of the patients reported an 'excellent improvement' with PRP microneedling while the rest, 60% reported 'good improvement' of the scars.

The results were in contrast to only 10% who recorded 'excellent improvement' with plain microneedling.[7]  

2. PRP microneedling has also shown better results compared to microneedling with vitamin C. One such study involving 30 participants recorded higher patient satisfaction for the group under PRP. 

Moreover, the study judged efficacy on parameters such as skin firmness, skin roughness and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.[8

3. The efficacy of PRP, when delivered via microneedling vs microinjections, was evaluated in a study involving 23 melasma patients. Following the end of the split-face study, hyperpigmentation reduced significantly with microneedling. 

It was further concluded that "there was no significant difference after comparing both sides." This finding goes to show that microneedling is just as effective as injections in delivery of PRP.     

Where to Get Microneedling PRP Treatment

The best place to get PRP microneedling is from licenced and experienced practitioners. Unlike plain microneedling, which can you can do at home with a dermaroller, the in-office procedure requires technical and medical know-how. The treatment, therefore, calls for a surgeon or a dermatologist.

Every step has to be right from pre-treatments processes to the after-care.
The reason being, some of the side effects of the treatment stem from substandard services. For example, the use of derma rollers that prick too deep into the skin may lead to unnecessary wounding. Also, using the wrong quantity of numbing agent can lead to pain or itchiness during the procedure.

To avoid encounter with quacks, approach the treatment as you would a conventional surgery. Ask for certification and seek a second opinion. Better yet, ask for before and after photos of previous clients to get an idea of what to expect.

Cost of PRP Microneedling

The treatment can be quite prohibitive due to the high prices that it attracts. For starters, a qualified doctor has to be engaged to ensure best practices. You will also be expected to pay some lab fees for PRP isolation.

Different conditions, including skin-lightening, calls for a varying number of sessions and after-care. This can see the cost skyrocket.

In a nutshell, the cost is dependent on; 

  • Surgeon fees
  • Size and severity of the treatment area
  • Your age, and 
  • The geographical location in which you seek the treatment

With that in mind, here is a look at the cost in 4 regions around the world: 

New York: The procedure goes for about £1,170 to £1,950 per session. A close alternative, whereby a serum is applied instead of PRP costs about £390 for each session.   

London: You can expect to pay about £1000 for face rejuvenation using the procedure. A package deal for the face and neck goes for about £1500.[9

Sydney, Australia: The procedure goes for about £780 and £1170 for a full-face vampire facial.

India:The cost is a bit low with dermatologists charging about £340 when treating a small site like under the eye. A full facial costs around £890.[10]  

Pros and Cons of PRP Microneedling

The treatment is scientifically proven to work, but it does come with some advantages and drawbacks. 

Pros

Lightens skin: PRP microneedling treats dullness, uneven pigmentation, age spots, melasma, and acne spots. The treatment also brings about skin rejuvenation by stimulating new cells to reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. 

Short recovery time: Signs of the treatment (redness and tightness) typically clears by the end of 24 to 72 hours.  

Regenerative treatment: The treatment is safe since it stimulates the body to heal itself faster. There is not much external interference since the plasma used in the procedure comes from the recipients themselves. For the same reason, PRP microneedling is valid for all skin types.

Non-invasive: This is in comparison to other skin lightening procedures such as laser treatments and cosmetic surgeries.

Minimal pain: A numbing agent is administered before the treatment.

Long-lasting results: Unlike other skin whitening regiments, like creams whereby treatment can be lengthy, PRP microneedling is long-lasting and effective on blemishes such as sunspots and scars.

Cons

Costly: The treatment is quite expensive compared to other skin lightening procedures. It is also more expensive than normal microneedling- usually costing twice as much.

Contraindicated: The treatment is unsuitable for people with blood loss and clogging issues.

Conclusion

PRP microneedling, or 'vampire facial' as others call it, is an excellent procedure if you are looking for a non-invasive and natural way to get rid of hyperpigmentation.

Microneedling triggers the skin to start the natural healing process by causing some tiny puncture wounds on it. PRP, on the other hand, entails separating and concentrating platelets from the blood and applying it on the skin to further enhance the healing process. 

Research has shown better results when the two procedures are used hand in hand. PRP microneedling is certainly gaining more popularity because it is non-invasive, faster, effective and long-lasting, among other qualities.

About:

sonia knight

Sonia Knight is the founder of be:skinformed.

Apart from having her own experience with hyperpigmentation, Sonia has gained vast knowledge in the dermatology field. For more info on this, check out our about us page.

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