WHAT IS VAMPIRE FACIAL AND HOW ITS DONE?
A celebrity or influencer’s face covered with blood splatter. No, it’s not Halloween makeup — it’s actually one of the latest treatment trends in skin care, also known as a “vampire facial.” Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Bar Refaeli, are fans of the facial, which might look quite scary in progress, but boasts big-time results.
It’s a facial that essentially uses your own blood to help promote the healthy activity of your skin cells. Our skin is naturally comprised of red blood cells and serum, which contain our white blood cells and platelets.
Platelets are rich in growth factors, which essentially act as energy boots for our skin. This helps our skin function optimally, increasing everything from collagen to elastin, while also bringing antioxidant and hydrating properties. Platelet-rich plasma is now commonly used topically as part of a regular facial, used along with micro-needling to enhance penetration into the skin, and is even being injected into the skin in the same manner as dermal fillers.
Typically, the process includes the initial blood draw, then running the blood through a centrifuge to isolate the platelets. You’ll then receive microneedling or microdermabrasion just before your PRPs are slathered across your face. This can be accompanied with or without radio frequency, too. It sounds gory and mysterious, but in fact, it is central to our evolving understanding of the physiology of the skin and advanced techniques with which to improve the quality of the skin.
As for recovery, it might take a day or two of downtime before you’re ready to hit the streets. Recipients may need one or two days, depending on how aggressive the microdermabrasion was on your skin. You’ll emerge from treatment a bit red, almost like a sunburn, which means post-procedure sunscreen is highly recommended. Applying makeup, though, is discouraged.
VAMPIRE FACIALS & HEALTH RISKS
A spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that offers “vampire” facials may have exposed clients to blood-borne infections, according to a statement from the New Mexico Department of Health.
The so-called vampire facial is a type of spa treatment that involves smearing a person’s own blood on his or her face, according to Allure. Proponents claim that the treatment improves skin health and reduces wrinkles and sun damage.
Officials conducted an inspection of the facility, called VIP Spa, after one of its clients contracted a blood-borne infection that may have come from a spa procedure performed there. During the inspection, they identified unsafe practices that may have put clients at risk.
One of the main ways to spread an infection like this is through “needlestick-associated transmission,” or being pricked by an infected needle, said Dr. Michael Landen, the New Mexico State Epidemiologist at the New Mexico Department of Health. This can occur from improper needle storage, handling and disposal, he said.
The New Mexico Department of Health has since shut down the spa and is urging any of its clients who received a vampire facial or other injection-based treatments in May or June of this year to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C for free at the Midtown Public Health Office. The statement does not mention which of these infections the client contracted, nor which specific treatment the individual had received.
“This is all very early in the investigation and we don’t have anything definitive at this point,” Landen told Live Science. But “we’re concerned and we’re encouraging people … who had any injection-related service from the VIP spa” to be tested.
During a vampire facial, a person’s blood is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge to separate out platelets, or blood cells that help with clotting. These platelets are suspended in the blood’s plasma, which is the liquid portion of blood.
One of two procedures follows: Either tiny needles are used to prick the skin of the face (called micro-needling), or the outer layer of the skin is sanded down (called microdermabrasion). Finally, the platelet-rich plasma is applied to the face, according to Allure.
The statement doesn’t mention which specific practices might have led to infections. But hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV can all be spread through contact with bodily fluids, including blood. The owner of VIP Spa is also encouraging clients to get tested, though she told local news station KOB 4 that she always used new needles during the treatments.
The spa’s license, however, turned out to have expired in 2013 and had not been renewed, according to KOB 4. Because the spa didn’t have a traditional appointment scheduler, officials are unsure how many people had such procedures performed there, Landen noted.