Written by Lisa Vuich, MD, Renew Medispa
One of the most common complaints we hear from our clients is their concerns about the appearance of their jaw line and neck. Loss of collagen and elastin in the skin, coupled with some facial volume loss due to age, come together to give a loose and sagging appearance that cause us to look older, tired and sometimes even “sad” due to a down turning of the corners of the mouth. Many ads and commercials would have you believe that drinking collagen or applying it to your skin is the solution. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.
Although topical skin care products and lifestyle changes can help to protect your collagen, putting it back requires much more effort! Fortunately the fibroblasts in your skin are still there and capable of making collagen if properly “motivated”. The most effective way to restore collagen to the skin is by means of what we call a “micro-injury”. This means that a controlled injury is created which sets off the healing cascade, resulting in new collagen formation. Examples of this abound and include micro-needling, laser, and many other devices which can be used to generate heat in the deeper dermis (often via radiofrequency energy or micro-focused ultrasound energy) to trigger your cells into action. The quality of the result and the number of treatments needed will vary depending on the device, the depth of penetration of the injury, and the skill of the technician.
Another way to get an enhanced collagen response is through the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) which can be delivered via injection or even micro-needling (the so called “Vampire Facial”). At Renew MediSpa we utilize (PRP) for many regenerative needs, from facial collagen restoration to sexual wellness procedures and even the treatment of scars and stretch marks. It has also been used for decades in orthopedics, burn centers and even for nerve injuries and thinning hair.
PRP is a concentrate of your own platelets, obtained from a blood draw at the time of your procedure. Your own platelets contain more than 30 growth factors and, when activated and placed in an area where injury has occurred, they will further enhance the repair response which in the skin means even more collagen response for more results from your procedure. Your blood is processed through a single use sterile kit, to remove the red cells and excess water but leave behind a concentrate of platelets for use during your procedure.
One of the most important things to understand about PRP is that dose and quality matter! There are over 25 different PRP preparation devices on the market but they are not all created equal. The amount of blood drawn will also affect your growth factor dose- the more blood drawn, the more platelets there will be and thus the more growth factor that will be delivered. This can definitely impact your results from a PRP procedure. On average about 1 ml of high quality PRP will come from every 10 ml of whole blood. A 30 ml blood draw is good for facial aesthetics in our experience, but other regenerative procedures may require 60 to 120 ml of blood depending on the amount of PRP the protocol requires.
For the dreaded “turkey-neck” our favorite procedure is to combine a treatment called Profound RF with PRP. Profound RF is a device which delivers heat at the tips of tiny micro-needles, after the region has been numbed with lidocaine. The patient gets the benefit of the micro-needling, plus the benefit of the heat micro-injury delivered, and then the PRP is administered to the treatment zone to further enhance the collagen response and to speed healing. Results are visible at a couple of weeks and continue to improve for up to 6 months. The collagen formed will last years, making this an exciting and gratifying way to turn back the clock by using your body’s own regenerative capabilities.
Medical grade micro-needling without heat can also be combined with PRP for collagen formation, but this will require a series of procedures rather than a single session in order to achieve satisfying results. Also, this will smooth the surface of the skin but will not be sufficient to tighten and lift, and may not be adequate to treat more advanced cases of collagen loss.
Our bodies have amazing regenerative capabilities regardless of age. Platelet Rich Plasma will continue to be at the forefront of regenerative medicine for years to come, so keep it on your radar for anti-aging methods.
Lisa Vuich, MD