When Kim Kardashian decided to brave the latest Hollywood trend -- a vampire facial -- on a recent episode of Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, viewers' jaws dropped.
In a vampire facial (the term "Vampire Facelift" has been trademarked by Alabama doctor Charles Runels), which is intended to help fight signs of aging, about two teaspoons of blood are extracted from the patient's arm, spun in a centrifuge for approximately 10 minutes to separate the platelets, and then injected back into the patient's face.
The golden-colored clear serum that rises to the top of the tubes is known as platelet rich plasma, or PRP for short, and that is what's "injected into the patient's face to rejuvenate the face," New York-based dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas tells Us Weekly.
Some variations of the procedure involve an extra step, wherein the practitioner adds fillers to help the results. The procedure takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and can cost between $1500 to $2500.
Asked if there is any science behind the latest anti-aging remedy, the doctors are split. "[There's] almost none," Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas tells Us. "As of now there isn't any scientific evidence that examines its efficacy … but presumably the plasma contains nutrients and factors that may boost skin rejuvenation. It is the latest new thing."
Dr. David Colbert, a fellow New York-based dermatologist who has worked with stars like Rachel Weisz and Sienna Miller (Dr. Colbert has not performed the controversial procedure on either actress), tells Us that "it is the most sought-after procedure after Botox and fillers." He counters that the science does, in fact, support the procedure.
"Many studies have been done that show how and why PRP works," he tells Us. "Injecting a person's own growth factors back into the skin stimulates more collagen and elastin to be made -- in effect increasing the thread count and luminosity of the skin."
On the show, Kardashian, 32, winced in pain as she was pricked with the tiny needles that delivered the extracted blood back into her face. "Ow, that hurts so bad!" she cried as red blood streamed down her face.
But Dr. Colbert tells Us that the procedure doesn't hurt any more than an "acupuncture treatment," and, in fact, he takes steps to make sure that the procedure is as painless as possible.
"We use a topical numbing agent and patients are very comfortable throughout the 15 minute procedure," he says of his experience. "They are always surprised that it doesn't really hurt."