Talk about a scary headline. Earlier this week the New Mexico Department of Health announced that lab tests showed that two clients of the (now closed) VIP Spa in Albuquerque were infected with HIV, likely the result of the vampire facial gone wrong. The New Mexico DOH shut down the spa last September, after finding unsafe practices that could potentially spread blood-borne illness. Now, they’re urging — and offering — free testing for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C for the spa’s former clients.
In case you don’t remember that famous Keeping Up With the Kardashians episode where Kim got one on camera, during a vampire facial your blood is drawn, then spun to extract platelet-rich plasma (PRP). That PRP is then injected into your face, either via micro-needling or syringes; the PRP boosts collagen and elastin, and delivers other anti-aging benefits.
In this New Mexico case, however, it wasn’t so much the specific facial that was an issue. “The vampire facial isn’t necessarily riskier than other treatments that require needles,” explains Lara Devgan, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of RealSelf. “It wasn’t the blood that caused the problem here, but rather the improper handling of the needles.”
That being said, whether it’s a vampire facial, Botox, fillers, micro-needling — any kind of treatment where there are needles involved, it’s important to be extra diligent. “Cosmetics procedures are still medicine, and the risk of blood-borne illnesses is present anytime needles are used,” Dr. Devgan cautions.
So, first and foremost, make sure that whomever is administering your treatment is a licensed medical provider. Also, pay attention during your treatment. Are the needles being used coming from new, sterile packaging, and then being disposed of properly?
The bottom line: There’s no need to panic, but consider this an underscoring of how important it is to be cautious and do your homework when going under the needle.