'Vampire facials' growing in popularity, but how do you know if they're safe? Doctors weigh in

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Friday, May 17, 2024
Are 'vampire facials' safe? Doctors weigh in
The CDC and New Mexico officials are investigating a link between 'vampire facials' and HIV transmission at an unlicensed spa. Here's what to know.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The CDC is reporting a link between a cosmetic needling procedure and HIV transmission.

"Vampire Facials" are called that because one of the steps involves drawing blood.

Doctors say it's very safe when done properly, but there are things you need to know before you get one.

Megan Nicholls, 44, decided to get a "vampire facial" after years of acne scarring and rosacea.

"This was a way to kind of bounce back, get more collagen, get a little bit more plumpness back into my skin," she said. "It became very popular for cosmetic and dermatologic use for rejuvenation, because of the natural growth factors," said Dr. Han Lee with Comprehensive Dermatology in Pasadena.

She described the procedure as a combination of micro-needling and protein rich plasma from your blood.

"The micro-needling creates channels, so it promotes delivery of the serum into the deeper areas of the dermis," she said.

Lee drew Nicholls' blood and then separated it in a centrifuge. She says using a patient's own blood makes it a safe procedure.

But between 2018 and 2023, the CDC and New Mexico Health investigators found a connection between an unlicensed spa and five cases of HIV transmission.

"In order to transmit HIV, you have to have contact with an infected specimen. And if you're only using it for one time, that should not happen. The tips are really for one time use. If the charge is inexpensive, then maybe they might be reusing tips," Lee said.

Vampire facials: Here's what to look out for

When you walk into a reputable practice, you'll notice a red needle disposal that lets you know that the needles are only being used once.

Plus, look out for a certain type of test tubes. They're FDA approved and designed specifically for these types of procedures.

"We also make sure that the blood is labeled with their name," Lee said. She said these steps to keep everything sterile is what patients need to watch out for.

Vampire Facials run from about $850 to $1,000 each session. A bargain price is another red flag.

"I just don't think getting deals for your health is where you should be cutting corners," said Nicholls.