The Vampire Breast Lift, which involves injecting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) into the breasts, has been a subject of much discussion in the plastic surgery community.
If its creator, Charles Runels, MD — whose website describes the above process as “injecting the magic” — is to be believed, this procedure is a wonder treatment for women that aren’t looking for a major change in breast size, but do want more volume or a more pronounced cleavage, without the recovery that invasive breast procedures entail.
But does the Vampire Breast Lift work? Some plastic surgery experts say it may work for certain purposes, but many are highly skeptical of most of its claims. We asked the experts to weigh in on this procedure — and they didn’t have many good things to say.
How the procedure is performed
According to the creators of the Vampire Breast Lift, the procedure has three steps:
- To start, the surgeon evaluates the shape of the breast to determine where it can be enhanced.
- The surgeon then prepares the PRP for injection. As with other procedures involving the injection of PRP, this is accomplished by isolating growth factors from the patient’s blood.
- Finally, the PRP is injected into the patient’s breast.
Once injected, the procedure’s creators claim that the growth factors present in PRP “work like magic to cause increased collagen and new blood flow.” They claim that this process activates stem cells to grow new blood vessels, collagen, and fatty tissue. The result? “Younger-appearing skin and increased volume of fatty tissue!”
According to the creators of the Vampire Breast Lift, the procedure can accomplish all kinds of things. These claims include lifting up saggy breasts, “increasing” the shape and look of cleavage for up to two years, fixing inverted nipples, erasing stretch marks, and increasing breast and nipple sensitivity.
The cost of any procedure varies from doctor to doctor depending on their geographic location, experience, and other factors. Some reports put the Vampire Breast Lift cost at around $1,800, and the fact that it’s not permanent means that it could add up to more.
For the sake of comparison, the average traditional breast lift cost is roughly $4,600. This makes the cost of a Vampire Breast Lift particularly more affordable than the cost of a traditional breast lift. That said, as we will examine in more detail, Vampire Breast Lifts do not provide the same results as traditional breast lifts.
Does it work?
The experts we spoke with overwhelming panned the Vampire Breast Lift, although some noted that it might be slightly effective for certain objectives — nearly all with caveats.
For example, it may be able to improve the look of the cleavage in terms of the skin texture, according to Dr. Suzanne Trott, a board-certified plastic surgeon located in Beverly Hills. Trott does caution, however, that one cc of any filler will not increase fullness by much at all. “The smallest breast implants made are 100 cc, and they barely make a difference in most people.”
Trott also says it could improve stretch marks, but not erase them. If the PRP is injected underneath an inverted nipple, the procedure may increase the nipple’s volume and help push it outwards. However, inverted nipples are usually also tethered to the underlying tissue, so it’s unlikely to have a dramatic effect.
Additionally, Trott says that the procedure could potentially increase breast and nipple sensitivity. PRP injections have been shown to improve nerve regeneration, and seem to help the healing of peripheral nerve injuries.
Dr. Joseph A. Russo, a board-certified, Harvard-trained plastic surgeon based in Newton, MA, agrees that strategically injected PRP may enhance the shape and look of cleavage to a degree, while increasing breast and nipple sensitivity. However, he also agrees with Trott that it is unlikely to lift saggy breasts or correct inverted nipples, and points out that any results would be temporary.
The name is misleading
The creators of the Vampire Breast Lift do not claim that it is as effective as surgical breast lift. In fact, according the official website, Vampire Breast Lift isn’t even effective at correcting saggy breasts. This has lead many experts to conclude that the treatment’s name is a bit off target.
“I think it is inappropriate, and unfair to the consumer, to use the term ‘lift’ in the name of this procedure at all,” says Trott. “It is serious false advertising. The term ‘rejuvenation’ should be used instead of ‘lift’ because it sounds like this procedure can help the appearance of the crepey skin of the medial breasts and decollete. It will not lift up saggy breasts.”
Some breast surgeons think that the procedure might actually be most effective in women who don’t need a breast lift. Among them is Dr. Constance Chen, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York City.
“Even the Vampire Breast Lift website states that ‘many would do better with surgery,’” says Chen. “The Vampire Breast Lift is least likely to be effective for women with droopy breasts who want a breast lift. Physiologically, injecting processed blood into the breasts is unlikely to lift up saggy boobs, increase the shape and look of cleavage, fix inverted nipples, erase stretch marks, and increase breast and nipple sensitivity. Processed blood, or platelet rich plasma may improve wound healing, but it is unlikely to be a magic elixir to reshape the breasts.”
In the eyes of Dr. Gregory A. Buford, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Englewood, CO, the procedure is just completely overhyped. “While PRP does contain vital biologic ingredients that can certainly improve skin tone and texture, many of the claims for its regenerative potential are without merit and completely unsubstantiated.”
Buford does not support several of the procedure’s purported benefits. He disagrees with the claims that the procedure can change the shape and look of breasts, erase stretch marks, increase breast and nipple sensitivity, and improve inverted nipples.
“Claims that it can help improve inverted nipples in particular are laughable,” says Buford. “Nipple inversion is generally caused by tethering bands that effectively hold down and retain the nipple in an inverted position. Simply injecting PRP to address this without cutting these bands is 100% worthless.”
Moreover, both Buford and Trott express concern that initial “results,” which can be viewed online in Vampire Breast Lift before and afters photos that often accompany Vampire Breast Lift reviews are misleading, as the slight increase in size is simply temporary postoperative swelling.
“To demonstrate any type of efficacy, there needs to be documentation of these results and proof of efficacy,” Buford says.
Is the vampire breast lift dangerous?
Trott says that women who undergo routine mammograms should make sure the radiologist knows that there is some filler in the area, because it could create scar tissue that could show up as calcifications on the mammogram, though it should be easily differentiated from the calcifications associated with malignancy.
Also, Chen points out that any injection of blood products into the body should be monitored for safety, as any injected products, including blood products, can cause an allergic reaction in the body. Patients should also beware of contaminants that may be in the blood or picked up during processing, she adds.
The one silver lining is that the Vampire Breast Lift is relatively harmless in most cases. There are not many Vampire Breast Lift side effects, other than “empty promises and the associated expense,” as Buford puts it.
Is this really a good reason to go through the trouble of having a Vampire Breast Lift? Ultimately, that is up to the individual patient. Despite its name, you can’t expect the procedure to give you much, if any, lift and this will justifiably be a major red flag for many.
“Patients should know that [the procedure] alone will not likely cause a true lift,” says Russo. And Trott reiterates that while Vampire Breast Lift may be much less invasive than traditional breast lift or enhancement procedures, it is also ineffective in comparison.
“A much better alternative that is along the same lines as this procedure — with no incisions — is fat transfer to the breasts from other areas of the body,” Trott concludes.