This is what you should know about 'vampire facials', a cosmetic treatment linked to several HIV infections

Three women were diagnosed with HIV after undergoing treatments vampire facials in a spa unlicensed doctor in New Mexico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week, marking the first documented cases of people contracting the virus through cosmetic services using of needles.

Federal health officials said in a new report that an investigation from 2018 to 2023 at the Albuquerque VIP Spa clinic found that the site apparently reused disposable materials intended for single usewhich transmitted HIV to clients through contaminated blood.

What is a 'vampire facial'? It is safe?

The treatments vampire facialsformally known as platelet-rich plasma facial procedures that use tiny needles, are cosmetic procedures intended to rejuvenate the skin, giving it a younger appearance and reducing acne scars and wrinkles, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

After blood is drawn from the patient, a machine separates it into platelets and cells.

The plasma is then injected into the client's face with sterile single-use or multi-use disposable needles.

The treatments vampire facialseither have gained popularity in recent yearssince celebrities like Kim Kardashian have made it public that they submit to them.

According to authorities, HIV transmission through injections with non-sterile utensils is a known risk of beauty treatments and other services.

Despite this, the academy affirms that the treatments vampire facials They are usually safe.

The health authorities assure that the spa Those who offer injections for cosmetic purposes must practice adequate control to prevent infections and maintain customer records, with the aim of preventing the transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV.

Where else is the procedure used?

Initially, platelet-rich plasma injections were used primarily in medicine to perform bone grafts and combat osteoarthritis. They later became popular as part of aesthetic treatments.

Other services, such as Botox treatments and lip fillers, are also performed with needles, as are tattoos.

Its use for rejuvenation purposes has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to Zakia Rahman, clinical professor of dermatology at Stanford University.

But as these procedures have grown in popularity, he explained, it is “important for people to know and understand that a medical treatment must be done in a medical setting.”

How was he linked? to HIV cases?

The New Mexico Department of Health was notified during the summer of 2018 that a woman with no known HIV risk factors had been diagnosed with an HIV infection after receiving services. vampire facials in it spa that spring.

During the investigation, similar strains of HIV were found in three women, all of them clients of the establishment. According to the CDC report, testing revealed that all three patients had been contaminated during services they received at the facility.

Another woman, who also received services at spaand her partner, a man, who had not been there, also became infected with a similar strain of HIV, but the HIV diagnoses of these two patients “were likely attributed to previous cosmetic injections,” the CDC said.

During their investigation, health authorities found equipment containing blood on a kitchen counter, tubes of blood and unlabeled injections in the refrigerator along with food and unwrapped syringes that had not been disposed of properly. The CDC report noted that in he no steam sterilizer foundnecessary to clean the equipment that is reused.

Are other patients at risk?

The New Mexico Department of Health reported that nearly 200 former clients of the spa, and their partners, were tested to detect HIV infections. No more infected people were detected.

According to the CDC, still Free tests are being offered for those who have frequented the premises.

“I think the biggest danger is undergoing a medical procedure in an environment that is not sanitary,” Rahman said. “It's not worth potentially putting your life at risk to get a discount or pay less.”

“There are a series of procedures and processes to ensure that these treatments are carried out safely and in medical environments,” he indicated. “All of this is done to reduce risk, and when safety measures are followed, the risks are extraordinarily low.”

What happened to the owner of the premises?

Maria de Lourdes Ramos de Ruiz, former owner of VIP Spa, pleaded guilty in 2022 to five felonies for practicing medicine without a license, including performing treatments vampire facials without permission.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office stated that Ramos de Ruiz also performed illegal plasma injection and Botox procedures.

According to prosecutors, inspections by the state health and regulatory and licensing departments found code violations, and he It was closed in the fall of 2018 after the investigation.

Ramos de Ruiz was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, with four years suspended on supervised probation, and 3 1/2 years of prison time and probation, according to court documents.

Raul A. Lopez, Ramos de Ruiz's attorney, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.