An Albuquerque, New Mexico, spa was served with a cease-and-desist letter and was forced to close this month because it may have exposed a client to an infection. The culprit? “Vampire facials,” a trendy skin care treatment that involves drawing blood from a client’s body, placing it in a centrifuge, then reapplying it to the face, supposedly to promote cell renewal.
The Vampire Facial, on the other hand, is a type of skin resurfacing treatment (such as microneedling or microdermabrasion) which is followed by microneedling of PRP into the skin. The benefit of this method of treatment is that the tiny needles used with microneedling “trick” your body into thinking there is an injury, so new collagen is produced. Though the tiny needles may make the skin look red or irritated for a short while after treatment, it is well known to look much worse than it feels! The results are extremely beneficial for those with fine lines or those who have acne scars or other imperfections they would like to improve.
That’s why it’s imperative that when you receive treatment (whether medical or for physical changes), you ensure that the needles used are either new or were properly sanitized. Before beginning a procedure, be sure to ask about their sanitizing procedures. Ask if you can watch them open a new needle or sanitize a used one. If they don’t use disposable needles, ask to watch the needle undergo its sanitization, and check that their sanitizer has been recently inspected. This may feel awkward at the time, but a true professional will understand your concern and the risks that are involved.
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Earlier this week, the New Mexico Department of Health announced the closure of a spa in Albuquerque after one of their clients reportedly developed an “unspecified infection” sometime after getting a “vampire facial.” During an inspection of the facility on Friday morning, health department officials became concerned about the way the spa was managing the storage, handling and disposal of needles.
The evidence isn’t clear for either of those assumptions in this case. PRP has been studied in a variety of medical settings to assist with healing, but evidence that shows it helps with skin rejuvenation are still relatively new. Dermatologists do seem to agree that PRP can improve pores, acne scars, and fine lines, which have caused vampire facials to become very popular, especially at med spas like the one in New Mexico.
Vampire facials aren’t all that new, but you can pretty much narrow down their popularity in the past few years to one woman: Kim Kardashian. In 2013, she Instagrammed a rather shocking photo of her blood-soaked face as a way to promote that night’s episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami (RIP), leading to a barrage of news outlets to ask, “Uh, what’s the deal with this weird new skin care thing?”
A. These names are referring to the use of platelets or “liquid gold” taken from your blood, to rejuvenate skin by methods of fractionating it into the skin or injecting it into the skin. At FACE we prefer to do an overall therapeutic dose of PRP/ PRFM which can increase the thickness of your skin by 10-12% all over, then go in and use fillers to target specific areas that have more substantiated volume loss.
So, what is it and how does it work, exactly? Don't let the name fool you. In fact, "It's usually done in full light of day," says Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Ava Shamban. In all seriousness, the treatment is a "combination of a microdermabrasion, followed by the application of PRP (platelet-rich plasma)," says Shamban. "The PRP is derived from the serum portion of the blood, which contains platelets. The platelets contain high levels of growth factors, which, when applied to the skin, will stimulate cell turnover."