Officials are investigating after two clients were diagnosed with HIV following 'vampire facials'

Two clients have reportedly been diagnosed with HIV following a ‘vampire facial’ [Photo: Getty]
Two clients have reportedly been diagnosed with HIV following a ‘vampire facial’ [Photo: Getty]

Health officials are investigating after two clients who had ‘vampire facials’ last year were recently diagnosed with HIV.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) revealed in a press release that they were investigating after two people who had “received injection-related procedures” at VIP Spa in Albuquerque were diagnosed with the same strain of the virus.

Both clients reportedly visited the now-closed spa between May and September of last year.

The spa was permanently shut on September 7, 2018 after an inspection identified practices that could potentially spread blood-borne infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C to clients.

Anyone who visited the VIP Spa for injection-based treatments is urged to undergo free testing services.

“While over 100 VIP Spa clients have already been tested, NMDOH is reaching out to ensure that testing and counselling services are available for individuals who received injection related services at the VIP Spa,” said Kathy Kunkel, NMDOH Cabinet Secretary.

“Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections.”

What are ‘Vampire Facials’?

Vampire facials became more popular after Kim Kardashian West posted a selfie on Instagram after undergoing the treatment in 2013.

The controversial treatment involves injecting your own blood into the skin in a move that is believed to stimulate collagen production and so rejuvenate tired skin.

“Put aside thoughts of Count Dracula! Despite the sinister-sounding name, this treatment is becoming increasingly popular across the UK as an entirely natural way of enhancing your appearance,” explains Dr Ash Dutta, a cosmetic surgeon at the Aesthetic Beauty Centre.

“A small amount of blood is simply taken from the forearm and, following a carefully controlled process, injected back under the skin of the face to make it look fresher and more youthful.”

Dr Dutta explains that the principle is similar to the that of the body’s own healing process when you cut yourself.

“In more detail, we draw about 28 to 30mls of blood and spin it in a centrifuge to separate the red and white blood cells from the Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), which is what we inject,” she explains.

“To enhance volume in different areas of the face, the longer lasting “platelet-rich fibrin matrix” (PRFM) is combined with a hyaluronic acid dermal filler such as Juvéderm or Restylane and this instant facial rejuvenating combination has become known as the ‘Vampire Facial or facelift’.”

What are the potential benefits?

Though it sounds gruesome, Dr Dutta says a vampire facial can treat: forehead wrinkles, frown lines, crow’s feet, “bunny lines” or “bunny nose” (dynamic wrinkles on the nose), lines at corners of the mouth, smile lines and offer plumping of the cheeks.

“People suitable for PRP therapy include: those in generally in good health, with mild to moderate signs of ageing, and who have realistic expectations from the procedure,” she explains.

“It is suitable for older patients, because it is minimally invasive, though they should not have any serious skin conditions.”

What are the risks?

Many of the risks seem to centre around sanitation with clients being potentially exposed to blood-borne infections if a micro-needling pen or any other equipment is not properly sterilised.

Infections could also occur for example if another patient’s blood was used to perform the facial.

Dr Dutta also explains that there is also a very small chance of allergic reaction.

“When carried out by a reputable clinic, PRP therapy is a safe and effective treatment,” she explains. “There are very few side effects associated with this therapy because this therapy uses patients’ own plasma to treat signs of ageing. Some temporary redness may be noticeable at the treatment side which settles spontaneously. Swelling and bruising are uncommon.”