The Shameful Wastefulness of Vampire Facials

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Imagine trying to explain to someone that you got HIV from a “vampire facial”.

Two people have tested positive for HIV after receiving “vampire facials,” a treatment that involves injecting blood platelets into a person’s skin, from VIP Spa, a clinic in New Mexico.

The spa in Albequerque was actually shut down last year, following reports that a patient had received an “unspecified infection” shortly after getting a vampire facial. An investigation by the New Mexico Department of Health later discovered unsafe needle storage and handling practices at VIP Spa, thus increasing the risk of the transmission of blood-borne infections.

When I got past the ridiculous name for this treatment, my reaction to this story was simple disgust at just how vain and foolish humans can be. For at least two unfortunate people, the contraction of a life-threatening virus occurred because of one facility’s poor needle-handling practices, coupled with a procedure which shouldn’t even exist.

However, my disgust was soon joined by no small amount of outrage. Upon further reading, I learned that this idiotic procedure involves extracting blood from a customer, then running it through a centrifuge to extract platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Their dumb face is then poked repeatedly with very fine needles, after which the previously extracted PRP is smeared all over it. The logic, such as it is, is that blood platelets will help repair damaged skin cells.

The outrage here is that this is an obscene waste of time, money, and a precious bodily fluid. Every two weeks, I take a couple hours to donate platelets.1 The process is similar to the above, with my blood extracted and run through a centrifuge to pull out the platelets, then returned to me. The difference is that at the end of my donation, cancer patients, victims of traumatic injuries, and others in need are helped, and nothing is slathered all over my skin. Also, I usually get a bag of Sun Chips, a treat few spas carry.


A small celebration for my 300th platelet donation.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

These odious narcissists are going through nearly all the steps to do some good in the world, only to blow it all with a procedure backed by exactly no evidence. Thanks a lot, Kim Kardashian.


Footnotes:

  1. You can (probably) donate too! If you’re near Boston, donate at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. ↩︎


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