Home Health & Fitness Vampire Facial Dangers | POPSUGAR Beauty

Vampire Facial Dangers | POPSUGAR Beauty

Vampire Facial Dangers | POPSUGAR Beauty


“There will be blood” sounds more like something Count Dracula would promise his guests at dinner than the basis of a popular facial treatment, but alas, a buzzy, nonsurgical procedure known as the “vampire facial” involves a lot of it. The treatment requires drawing the customer’s blood, extracting the platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and then injecting it back into the face via microneedling. But is it potentially dangerous? The short answer: maybe.

In April 2024, the CDC released a Morbidity and Mortality Report investigating an incident that occurred at an unlicensed medical spa sometime in 2018 that left people exposed to the HIV virus after getting the bloody facial. To learn more about what vampire facials are and how they can potentially be dangerous, keep reading.

What Is a Vampire Facial?

As we mentioned, the vampire facial treatment get its name because of the blood that’s involved. “The so-called ‘vampire facial’ usually involves applying or injecting plate-rich plasma (PRP) after using a needling device to break the skin barrier,” Jimmy C. Sung, MD, medical director and board-certified plastic surgeon at Tribeca Aesthetics, tells PS. “PRP is derived from the patient’s blood. The collection is like blood drawn in the hospital, lab, or doctor’s office. The blood is obtained and processed in special sterilized tubes.”

Some studies have suggested that vampire facials can diminish visible wrinkles and fine lines and boost collagen production. However, “The benefits of the procedures have not been proven with convincing scientific evidence,” says Dr. Sung. “We don’t know the optimal concentration of platelets to produce the best outcome. Furthermore, during treatments, we usually do not validate precisely how much platelets we are injecting.”

If you do notice a difference in your skin post-procedure, it’s likely from the “micro-trauma caused by the needling device rather than the PRP,” Dr. Sung says.

What Happened With the Vampire Facial HIV Diagnosises?

Back in September 2019, the New Mexico Department of Health recommended that anyone who got the facial at VIP Spa in Albuquerque, NM, get tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C immediately. This came after an inspection in which officials revealed that the service could have put people at risk of these infections, especially if they got the treatment in May or June of 2018. The VIP Spa has since closed and PS was unable to get in touch with the owner for comment back when the incident was first reported.

Now, the CDC has said that, “This investigation identified an HIV cluster associated with receipt of cosmetic injection services,” which occurred because the “unlicensed facility that did not follow recommended infection control procedures or maintain client records.”

As of spring 2023, five people have been linked to the ordeal, including four women who received services at the med-spa and one man who was a partner of a patient. The investigation says, “Evidence suggests that contamination from an undetermined source at the spa during spring and summer 2018 resulted in HIV-1 transmission to these three patients.”

This news sheds light on an important, often overlooked problem: finding a licensed professional to inject is key.

“It can only be done by licensed professionals at certified healthcare facilities,” says Dr. Sung. “Unfortunately, consumers are at risk due to the lack of enforcement of the law and regulations.”

Ideally, you want to find a physician who has a board certification to perform the types of procedures that involve needles or blood (or scalpels or syringes). Medispas might sound like they’re all cucumber water and candles, but great skin will never be worth contracting a blood-borne infection.

Kelsey Castañon is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and content strategist with more than 13 years of experience in publishing. She is currently the senior content director at PS, where you can find her stockpiling (and reporting on) everything from skin care to wine.

Jessica Harrington is the senior beauty editor at PS, where she writes about hair, makeup, skin care, piercings, tattoos, and more. As a New York City-based writer and editor with a degree in journalism and over eight years of industry experience, she loves to interview industry experts, keep up with the latest trends, and test new products.


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