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‘Vampire facials’ might have exposed some people to HIV

A New Mexico spa is being investigated for dangerous practices

Remember that craze for so-called ‘vampire facials’? Remember Kim Kardashian having a breakdown as her own blood was injected back into her face in what looks like a horrifyingly painful procedure? Well, now a clinic in New Mexico is being investigated after one patient potentially contracted HIV after a treatment.

Last week, the New Mexico Department of Health released a statement concerning the VIP Spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico had developed an infection that may have developed following their treatment. As CNN reports, spa clients who received treatments are being asked to visit the state’s Midtown Public Health Office to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Lynn Gallagher, the cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health, said: “It is very important that anyone who received a vampire facial or other injection-related service at the VIP Spa in May or June of 2018 come to the Midtown Public Health Office for free and confidential lab testing and counseling.”

The spa was immediately closed following an inspection that saw it practicing work “that could potentially spread blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C to clients”.

A vampire facial, also known as a plasma-rich protein facial, shouldn’t ever put people at risk of bloodborne infections if done properly. Blood is firstly drawn from a client’s arm and put into vials, where the plasma is extracted from blood cells via centrifuge. The plasma is then spread across the face, and then a micro-needling technique is used to puncture the skin, injecting plasma back in through tiny holes. The plasma contains protein and other nutrients that are meant to make you look younger, stimulating collagen and cell growth. However, studies have shown contradicting evidence in the benefits it has for anti-aging. It has shown in some studies to improve pores, fine lines, and acne scarring though.

This recent news reflects the dangers that come with fast-moving beauty and skincare trends that healthcare legislators aren’t regulating. Cosmetic surgeries like the Brazilian Butt lifts are rife on Instagram, but are often performed by unlicensed, cowboy surgeons. BBLs also have one of the highest surgery mortality rates – around 1 in 3,000 people who undergo the procedure die, which is 0.033 percent, compared with 0.002 percent for all office-based cosmetic procedures, as reported by a 2016 study in Aesthetic Surgery JournalCounterfeit botox and wrongly performed filler procedures have also left people injured and disfigured, while laser hair removal treatments have given people severe burns. As Vox reports, a North Carolina student died from brain damage caused by a numbing gel at a medical spa in 2004.

The first time the vampire facial gained its first wave of popularity though was back in 2013, when Kim K had the procedure done on an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Since then the procedure has become much more widespread, but regulations surrounding safety have yet to be standardised. Most of the time a medical professional isn’t legally required to be there in these ‘spas’, which market themselves in the same way that salons do, but carry out treatments that require knowledge and training in infection control and health and safety.

As a generation concerned with our skincare, and with more people wanting to have that face-tuned, Valencia-filtered look IRL, it’s important that more is done to standardise health and safety around trendy, emerging cosmetic procedures.