Dermatology Fillers

Shedding Daylight on the Vampire Facelift

Sensual female vampire lips in blood, close-up image. Halloween or horror theme

Women love vampires.  They’re immortal, sexy and never have issues with hyper-pigmentation.

So it’s no wonder the Vampire Facelift, with the promise of turning back the clock using your own natural juices coupled with the innuendo of Twilight and 50 Shades of BDSM has women curious.

But there’s a lot of confusion.  What exactly is a Vampire Facelift and why would you want one?  How is it different from traditional fillers?  What should you do if your doctor suddenly appears in a dark cape instead of a white coat?

***

First, lets start with the fact that the Vampire Facelift isn’t a facelift at all, but an alternative to traditional hylauronic acid fillers (HA) like Restylane, Juvaderm or Sculptra that are FDA approved to fill in the marionette lines  and off label, the cheeks, lips and sometimes the hollows under the eyes.

The blood-filler craze started in 2009 with the launch of Selphyl, a blood filler “kit” that for years had been used under the name Fibrinet in the orthopedic field to help tendon tissue heal faster.  However, Selphyl is not yet formally FDA approved for cosmetic purposes in the face, so it is only used “off label”.  It’s also not the only PRP on the market;  there’s another brand called Regen which is manufactured by Eclipse Aesthetics (no, I am not making up the name).

Selphyl claims that by using growth factors in your own blood, you’ll stimulate longer term, more “natural” collagen growth versus traditional HA fillers.  There are also secondary, albeit inconsistent claims of a rosier glow, less bruising, and a reduced risk of the bumps that can sometimes accommodate traditional HA fillers.

The process of getting Selphyl is simple; your doctor takes a vial of your blood and spins it in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the serum and harvest what’s called platelet rich plasma (PRP – where the growth factors live).  The PRP is then activated with calcium chloride to create a platelet rich fibrin matrix (PRFM) and is then injected into your face.  Sometimes it’s combined with fat injections or traditional HA fillers to give more fullness.

And it’s bloody expensive; Selphyl’s tab is coming in between $1000 – $1500 per treatment.  Often, Selphyl requires more than one treatment and seeing the results of the rebuilt collagen take a few months where with HA fillers, the results are often immediate.

***

But what’s created a lot of smoke and mirrors around Selphyl is the Vampire nickname.   Originally, the media coined the vampire nickname in 2009, but in 2010 an enterprising plastic surgeon, internal medical doctor, Dr. Charles Runels who trademarked the name “The Vampire Facelift”.  He’s also behind this bodice ripper of a promotional video that’s worth sitting thru for a few minutes if only for the thundering soundtrack usually reserved for women’s soft porn.

After dissecting the hyperbole, what I took away is that Dr. Runels has merchandised and trademarked a “kit” of traditional HA fillers  in partnership with Eclipse’s Regen PRP product (not Selphyl).  Filler gets injected first, then the PRP.  And all that talk about harnessing the science of mathematics and great artists?   To me that simply means this should done by an experienced injector who is board certified by the ABMSASPSASAPS (the latter is my build), but neither of which had Dr Runels registered as an active member.

A video still from Dr. Charles Runel’s Vampire Facelift video. Serious.

So I was especially curious to learn what it takes to be a “Vampire Professional”.  A zip code finder on the website shows a relatively small list of doctors in Manhattan, but features Dr. Paul Nassif (Andrienne Malouf’s pseudo husband from RHOBH) who does a live injection on video which I found helpful.  However, Dr. Runels places a lot of emphasis on the skill of the injector, so I was disappointed to learn he doesn’t necessarily train the doctors who he authorizes to use his kit and promotional materials.  In fact, an article in the NY Times from March 2011 says that all doctors have to do to get the kit is to pay a monthly fee of $47  $97 fee to Runels.  Buyer beware.

***

Hoopla aside, is Selphyl worth your hope and cash?

Selphyl on it’s own does not have the same filling results as the traditional HA fillers mentioned above.  But combined with HA fillers, or even with fat there seems to be a healthy mix of possibility and skepticism in the medical community.  Dr. Andre Berger, a cosmetic surgeon was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Daily Post, “(Vampire therapy) is not the miracle filler.  Patients will be greatly disappointed if you try to say it was a comparative option to using a filler. It can be used in conjunction with a filler to enhance the effects … kind of like fertilizer is used to make a more beautiful garden.

On Skintour.com, dermatologist Dr. Brandith Irwin also hesitates to jump on the Selphyl bandwagon given the long list of proven options on the market.  “While Selphyl looks interesting and promising for some issues in facial aesthetics, it’s far from being a magic wand.   It’s expensive and results so far are not very predictable from patient to patient.  The one study published in 2009 (Sclafani) only had 15 patients.  The results in those patients are easily achievable with other products or lasers already on the market.  Products equal to or less in price and with over 20,000 patients injected for a track record of safety and results. Which would you rather choose?  In my opinion, a new technology needs to be BETTER than a tried and true technology of similar price to be a good choice.”

You can see Selphyl before and after here, but I believe there was some fat or traditional HA filler involved.

Selphyl’s skeptics are also holding out on a ringing endorsement because haven’t been any formal clinical trial, the data set is tiny and it simply hasn’t been out long enough to understand the long term trade-offs.  Further, there has been heavy PR and viral promotion touting claims for a product that isn’t even FDA approved for cosmetic use.  Dr. Phil Haeck, former president the American Society of was quoted last year in the NY times as saying,

“This is another gimmick that people are using to make themselves stand out on the Internet in a real dog-eat-dog part of medicine.”

While Dr. Irwin points out that the long-term data available is only for tendons — not the face.  “My main concern is that safety data from orthopedic tendon injections may not apply to the face. Injecting into a mostly blood-vessel-free tendon is very different than injecting into the face where there are many blood vessels and anatomy, including many nerves, is more challenging.”

So after all this, would I try Selphyl?   Maybe.  In 5 years, once we know more.  Using it with fat or other fillers sounds interesting, and I like the promise of rebuilding my own collagen, but only time will tell.

Sources, resources and other articles you might be interested in

20 Comments

  • Reply
    crowsfeetcupcakescellulite
    September 7, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Per my love affair with all things vampire-related, your article got my Twilight-loving attention. My initial thoughts? While I’m a big fan of traditional fillers, etc, I’d probably pass on the Selphyl. My vanity has limits…oh, and a budget (at $1500 a pop, I’d have to mortgage most of my designer shoes 😉 As always, great article….

    • Reply
      narcissista1
      September 7, 2012 at 11:33 PM

      I agree Sasha…and there’s something funky with the FDA approval. Botox, Restylane, Scultpra…they’ve all been thru rigorous approvals with large scale trials. Selphyl…until there’s more studies I am skeptical. and that whole Vampire Facelift marketing is whacked. But I still loved the silly video with cheap porn music:)

  • Reply
    Sanjay Batra
    September 13, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    I would like to offer one clarification: although the media coined the term Vampire Facelift in association with SELPHYL, our company does not endorse the term. While ‘catchy’ we feel that it detracts from the practice of medicine for physicians and their patients. A piece in the June issue of Plastic Surgery News explains this in greater detail (please contact me through the website below for a copy). While I admire the marketing savvy of Dr. Charles Runels, our company is not associated with the vampire term – we focus on research and evidence-based medicine. This research is ongoing, takes time and is absolutely the right thing to do. Sincerely, Sanjay Batra, Ph.D., President & CEO, Aesthetic Factors (www.selphyl.com).

    • Reply
      narcissista1
      September 15, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      Hi Sanjay,

      Thanks for your perspective and sharing where Selphyl stands on the Vampire continuum. I can understand why Selphyl would want to disassociate with the Vampire term. While it’s a sexy thing to throw around and makes it easy for consumers to talk to their doctors, it’s this very hype that seems to have created a lot of skepticism within the medical community (clearly a case where marketing and science go together like peanut butter and mayonaise). This is unfortunate because as I say in the article, there seems to be a lot of possibility with Selphyl and look forward to hearing more about the clinical studies in the cosmetic setting. I found that article you mentioned above from June’s Plastic Surgery News and posted it above for the readers (it’s an excellent read).

      -Becca

      • Reply
        Charles Runels
        September 15, 2012 at 5:07 PM

        Guess maybe you didn’t go to the website USPTO.gov (it’s where the US Patent and Trademark office posts trademarks and patents).

        If you go there’s you’ll see that Aesthetic Factors (the people who make Selphyl) applied for the trademark “Vampire Technologies.” Odd they would apply for that trademark without any interest in the Vampire name.

        This is a classic example of the “Moped Phenomenon”–“lot’s of fun but you don’t want your friends to see you riding one.”

        Selphyl made LOTS of money with my trademarked name (the one that I thought of) Vampire Facelift (R) exactly because of discussions about the name. Even though they deny liking it–it’s gotten then mentioned in the New York times and many other places (worth over a million in advertising easily)….all just so they can say they don’t like the name—and they never paid me a dime.

        The whole hook for this article is the Vampire Facelift (R) and in the end you slam the name and elevate a product that I dumped months ago in favor or Regen PRP (out of Switzerland and a higher quality product that also makes more PRP per session): see RegenLab.com

        I do not make any commissions on Regen PRP either (in case you’re wondering). It’s just what I recommend for now. When something better comes along, then i will recommend that…but I’ll still be marketing the Vampire Facelift (R).

        There are 14 manufacturers of the kits to make the PRP…do you think it bothers the Selphyl people to get all the attention from the Vampire Facelift (R) name and then say how they are superior. Each of the 14 different manufacturers had to do their own research to get FDA approval. Every one of them.

        It’s sort of like the beer the commercial where they brag about filtering the water…all of the beer people have to filter the water…but only one of them was smart enough to brag about it.

        Regen did their research, Harvest did theirs, Selphyl did theirs–all the others did their research.

        What I did is read all the research, from every manufacturer, and use 6 of the best,..then chose Regen PRP to be in the Vampire Facelift (R)–that makes it backed by a comparison of multiple research projects–many more than Selphyl alone!

        No manufacturers officially endorses the Vampire Facelift (R) name because they all know that with this model, if the research shows something superior, then they can be dumped for the new best thing–and the PATIENTS BENEFIT from the constant vigilance and endorsement of hundreds of doctors in multiple countries using the Vampire Facelift (R) name.

        But, if you want to believe that only one beer brand filters the water and that only one PRP company does research, then that will make those companies very very happy.

        best,

        Charles Runels, MD
        inventor of the Vampire Facelift (R), the O-Shot (R), and the Vampire Breast Lift (R)

      • Reply
        Charles Runels
        September 15, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        As for the “hype” …

        The claims made for the Vampire Facelift (R) are simply a COMBINATION of the effects proven to occur after proper application of an hyaluronic acid filler (like Juvederm) and platelet-rich plasma.

        If it makes you feel safer, instead of asking for the “Vampire Facelift”…
        Just ask the following:

        “Please use the latest computerized topographic images that predict the most pleasing aesthetic shapes to guide near bruise-free and near pain-free placement of an hyaluronic acid filler followed by platelet-rich plasma that’s been activated to form platelet-rich fibrin matrix.”

        I didn’t think most patients could remember that,
        so I made up at name that meant the same thing…

        “Vampire Facelift.”

        You can use the long version if you want.

        Still, I’d recommend you find someone who advertises the Vampire Facelift (R)…
        otherwise, even the physician you visit may not have a clue what you’re talking about.

  • Reply
    Charles Runels, MD
    September 13, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Thank you for gettIng the word out about the Vampire Facelift (R)

    Just a few clarifications….

    1. The reason I was able to secure the trademark is that I proved to the attorneys at the US Patent & Trademark office that I was first to use the name. You will not find the phrase Vampire Facelift (R) anywhere before my first use in early 2010.

    2. The press used the term vampire filler as a synonym for PRP.

    3. Vampire Facelift (R) is a particular type of trademark called a “service mark” that implies a way of doing something…not a material.

    4. I came up with a way of combining PRP with an HA filler that gives a gorgeous result.

    5. Aesthetic Factors (the Selphyl people) trademarked the name Vampire Technologies because they liked the name too (see uspto.gov)

    6. I have researched and personally tried 6 different methods of making PRP …seeking the best method for our service (the Vampire Facelift)…and do not recommend Selphyl any longer.

    7. Point #6 does not make me popular with the Selphyl people —but my goal is the best procedure. I’ve conducted many research trials and worked as a research chemist before medical school—my job is to find the best materials and the best methods and keep working to make the service better.

    8. Any policing–and I do police who goes on our site— is better than joining a doctor club. To use materials (like HAs and Botox)–you just need a license.

    9. I teach injections all over and no one beats me with a syringe

    10. All injectors on VampireFacelift.com are expert and understand the procedure

    11. Until very recently, many plastic surgery residencies would NOT allow residents to even learn injections—“we are surgeons, not injectors.”

    12. So, though many excellent surgeons are excellent injectors—many are not. When it comes to injections, much depends upon the eye and skill of the injector—not the letters of the doctor club he’s in (don’t we all have friends who look freaky from the injections of an excellent surgeon).

    My idea is that the service mark offers assurance of a certain quality of care that is beyond and better than any standard board—and we accomplished that.

    13. Much research out there about PRP combined with an HA—better than either alone. You can see some of this research at VampireFacelift.com

    14. I’m also committed to the research…but not the research about one tool alone! The only way to educate and advertise about a service that uses more than one product is by using a service mark…and that’s the real beauty of the procedure: it gives patients and doctors a way of talking about a WAY not just a material.

    15. This way of doing business threatens the manufacturer because it allows physicians to substitute a better product to help the patient without spending more money to market a new name.

    Thank you for talking about the procedure

    Best,

    Charles Runels, MD
    Inventor of the Vsmpire Facelift (R) and the O-Shot (R)

  • Reply
    Charles Runels, MD
    September 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    By the way…

    One reason I mention the O-Shot (R) in a previous post is that offers another example of a service mark—

    In this case, a particular way of using PRP to help with stress incontinence and dysparunia in women…wound you rather have someone who just buys a kit to make PRP…or someone who gas studied with the inventor and researcher of the procedure? That’s the promise of a service mark…a level of quality beyond normal.

    Also, it’s a little disappointing to me when someone of wider views thinks one person can only wear one hat!

    I’ve been a newspaper reporter, the US army uses a machine I helped develop, I wrote the best selling sex manual (3 straight years on Amazon), raised 3 sons as a single dad, taught paramedics and started the largest group of ER doctors in my state, and presently serve as medical director for physiciams to over 50 nursing homes—and yet somehow I’m not qualified to find a better way to enhance a woman’s beauty?

    Sometimes just wanting to help and using your brain works better than being in a particular club

    🙂

    Peace & health,

    Charles Runels, MD

  • Reply
    Charles Runels, MD
    September 13, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Oh yes….
    One more thing….

    I could be a vampire 🙂

    • Reply
      narcissista1
      September 15, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Hi Dr. Runels,

      I have to say, I’m kinda excited to have a possible Vampire, best selling sex author and single Dad to three boys on Narcissista.me (right there is the is the Holy Trinity of what women love.)☺

      Kidding aside, I think your marketing efforts are genius; you’ve rivaled some of the most creative minds I’ve ever worked with in New York. It’s clear there’s also a lot good intention in using the term Vampire to create a bridge between consumers and doctors. I also think it was brilliant to merchandise PRP and HA together in an effort to standardize the treatment and maximize the efficacy, as long as the doctor’s you sanction are members of the ASPS which (a rule for myself I take a hard stance on).

      Where things took a left turn for me in my research though, is that the medical community doesn’t seem completely ready to embrace PRP’s due to the lack of clinical data in the cosmetic setting. Adding the Vampire hype just seemed have added gas to the flame, because now when a woman asks about “Vampire”, a lot of doctors don’t even entertain the subject and women feel silly for asking. That’s why I wrote the piece I the first place, to provide a little clarity on all the point/counterpoint.

      We may not agree on all points, but nice hearing your perspective nonetheless as it helps the readers.

      -Becca

      P.S. And you know my next stop is checking out whatever that O-shot is. I have a feeling it’s not for the face.

      • Reply
        Charles Runels
        September 15, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        And I’m very grateful for the forum 🙂

        put smart people in the room…they never agree about everything…that’s ok..keeps it interesting.

        Thank you for giving me space to reveal some of the secrets behind the scenes.

        as for the doctor’s feelings…it may be interesting for you to know that in the beginning the Pastic Surgeons and Dermatologists were a little slow to adopt Botox.

        As I said in a previous note, some of the surgery residencies even forbade their residents from learning the methods.

        So, Allergan said, “what the heck?!” or
        maybe they didn’t really say that…but I’m betting they did
        because this much if fact…they then offered it to family practitioners..and those guys went crazy with it so much so that eventually the plastics guys adopted it too.

        sort of funny because as with lasers, some said that the family practitioners were not qualified–but then the plastics guy would hire a nurse to do it for him/her 🙂

        Important–this is mostly the old-school guys–the new guys and the progressive thinking veterans are on top of everything that makes the face beautiful!

        Still, if the ivory tower plastics and derms snubbed their nose at botox in the beginning (and some still do),,,it’s no wonder they’d do the same with the Vampire

        as for not research–that’s bunk! that they propagate falsely…go to VampireFacelift.com..then go to the ‘science page’ and you’ll see a list …but that’s only a sampling…theres a HUGE amount of research looking a PRP and it’s effects on skin (especially in the wound care literature).

        But, instead of looking at the truth..they simply don’t look and then claim there’s “no good research.”

        anyway…thanks again..nice forum and I’m honored to contribute.

        peace,

        Charles

        Charles Runels, MD

      • Reply
        Charles Runels
        September 15, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        btw…
        liked your “fight club” analogy with the botox parties.

        another interesting subject. if you google it…you’ll find some plastics guys ranting about how “botox parties are not safe” LOL

        give me a break!!

        we can have chemotherapy at home,
        we can have home dialysis
        but we can’t do botox?

        but, the fight club thing comes close (except with me,,,since I dont usually cause pain or bruising).

        thanks again…

        working to be your favorite vampire….

        Charles

        • Reply
          narcissista1
          September 16, 2012 at 5:16 PM

          So glad you liked the post! I suspect that the real draw behind Botox parties is the need for women connect, more so than the actual Botox.

          And not to be a fun sponge, but I felt comfortable at my Botox party because it was in the doctor’s office and he had his PA with him who took all of medical histories. I also knew he was ASPS board certified and had a heavy cosmetic in his practice. I would tell women to approach a Botox party with the same evaluative rigor that they would in choosing a plastic surgeon or Derm. The only difference in mind is that there’s a little bit of wine and a whole lotta girl tawk:)

          Becca

  • Reply
    Sylvia Silvestri
    September 14, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Having been a Registered Nurse for 17 years in Plastic Surgery…I would like to add that HAs such as Restylane and Juvederm are only FDA approved for certain areas of the face such as the nasolabial folds, yet it is injected everywhere in the face “off label”. Because PRP is derived from your body, my feeling is that it can’t hurt for those patients who want to try it. In addition, 1000.00 is typically what patients pay for 1-2 syringes of HA so the cost of having a PRP treatment is fairly reasonable. In closing, it is essentially important that proper research is done before writing blogs which give patients the wrong information…this is the reason that I started my blog in order to educate patients properly.

    Sylvia Silvestri, RN

  • Reply
    narcissista1
    October 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Hi Sylvia,

    Have you had any patients try PRP yet? I too am curious about it, but want to wait until is more data comes in on it’s use in the face. From what I understand, there is only one white paper from Sclafani (2009) with 15 patients treated with a 3 month follow up. Not a lot of time and not a lot of patients.

    Regarding the cost of PRP, my research (see above links) suggests it’s actually more expensive than HAs which are about $650 on a national average. PRP is reportedly about $1200 a syringe, provides less of a filling effect (when not used with an HA) and in many cases requires more than one treatment.

    Becca

    • Reply
      Charles Runels
      October 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Becca,

      After writing such a long note, I thought, “Who has time to read all that?”

      So, the short version answer to your question: “Watch the video (click below) to the shocking interview of a college lady to the end. Then read the research sited below the video and you will have your answer.”

      review/47093322/feee302a9e

      Peace & health,

      Charles

      Charles Runels, MD
      inventor of the Vampire Facelift (R), the O-Shot (R), and the Vampire Breast Lift (R)

  • Reply
    Charles Runels
    March 21, 2013 at 4:49 AM

    The inventor of the Vampire Facelift was reluctant to be interviewed. They finally tracked him down. Here’s what he had to say… http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-943485

    • Reply
      narcissista1
      March 25, 2013 at 7:58 AM

      Like the new hair cut!

      • Reply
        Name
        March 25, 2013 at 8:09 AM

        Was hoping you would 🙂

  • Reply
    Charles Runels
    May 29, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Vampire Facelift news reviews…
    http://youtu.be/xzW5Ys-MU0w

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