Two People Contract HIV From ‘Vampire Facial’ at Spa

Colin Fredericson
By Colin Fredericson
April 29, 2019US News
Two People Contract HIV From ‘Vampire Facial’ at Spa
Amy Ong, 50-year-old visitor, receives a facial anti-ageing treatment at the Beauty Asia trade show in Singapore on Feb. 18, 2014. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

Two people who received facials from the same New Mexico spa have been diagnosed with the same strain of HIV.

The spa has since been shuttered, according to a press release obtained by The Associated Press. The two clients both received “vampire facials,” a technique where a patron’s own blood is injected into his or her face.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) urged patrons of the spa to get tested for blood-borne infections.

“While over 100 VIP Spa clients have already been tested, NMDOH is reaching out to ensure that testing and counseling services are available for individuals who received injection-related services at the VIP Spa,” said Kathy Kunkel, NMDOH cabinet secretary in a news release obtained by KRQE. “Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections.”

Vampire facials involve a process that is better suited to a medical environment. It takes drawing a patron’s blood, processing it so that the plasma is drawn out, creating tiny abrasions in the person’s skin, and then covering it with the blood that was drawn, according to Allure.

“Microneedling with PRP (platelet-rich plasma), also known as the vampire facial, involves drawing a patient’s blood and spinning it in a centrifuge to isolate the platelet-rich plasma, which contains growth factors to stimulate collagen,” said Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University, via Allure.

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Then the skin of the face is pricked.

“The multiple tiny needles penetrate the skin at a certain depth, creating superficial wounds and ‘microinjury’ through which the patient’s plasma is reintroduced,” Marchbein added.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, spa closed in September, after an inspection by the NMDOH and the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department, Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists, according to a news release obtained by KRQE. Officials inspected the business after a patron came down with an infection.

The infections could have occurred during the procedure.

“They may have drawn blood from more than one person at the same time and crossed samples—meaning blood products drawn from one person were used on another,” said Doris Day, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, via Allure. “Another possibility is that the microneedling device was not properly sterilized after use, and the PRP material contaminated the device and was transferred to the next client.”

On Instagram a search for vampire facials reveals red-faced people undergoing the odd procedure.

Day advises that these kinds of procedures should be handled by medical professionals: through a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

“It is a very safe procedure—when done properly,” Day told Allure. “But the risks do include infection, scarring. and contamination if the device is not properly sterilized between uses.”

Kim Kardashian West was also a fan of the vampire facial but has since changed her mind. A popular Instagram image shows her with blood smeared over her face. The post has almost 150,000 likes.

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Tonight on Kourtney & Kim Take Miami!!! #VampireFacial #kktm

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“A few years ago, I heard about a ‘vampire facial,’ and I was so intrigued,” Kardashian West wrote in a now deleted website post, quoted via Allure. “It was really rough and painful for me. It was honestly the most painful thing ever! It’s the one treatment that I’ll never do again.”

She acknowledged in the post that other people could still benefit from the treatment. Allure wrote that Kardashian West found out she was pregnant right before the treatment, and so couldn’t use the typical numbing creams or painkillers.

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