The Dangers of Unregulated Vampire Facials: Lessons Learned from a Six-Year Investigation

The Dangers of Unregulated Vampire Facials: Lessons Learned from a Six-Year Investigation

In a shocking turn of events, a day spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was at the center of a health department investigation due to the practice of ‘vampire facials’. These facials, which involve drawing blood from a vein, separating platelets, and reinjecting them into the skin using microneedling, were carried out by an unlicensed operator at the spa. The consequences of these unsanitary procedures were severe, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting five cases of suspected HIV infections linked to the spa. This highlights the critical need for rapid contact tracing and the regulation of invasive treatments to protect public health.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) launched an investigation in the summer of 2018 following a report of a woman testing positive for HIV after receiving a vampire facial at the unlicensed spa. Despite having no history of risky behaviors like drug use or unprotected sex, the woman’s infection was traced back to the facial procedure. This case underscores the importance of proper oversight and regulation of cosmetic procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of clients.

The investigation into the spa revealed shocking lapses in hygiene and safety protocols. From unlabeled blood tubes to storing injectables in a kitchen refrigerator alongside food, the spa’s practices were far from the standards required for medical procedures. With unwrapped syringes found in various locations and no evidence of a proper sterilizing system, the risks of cross-contamination and infection were alarmingly high. The lack of a regulated system for recording client information further complicated efforts to trace the spread of infections and identify all potentially affected individuals.

Practitioners in the US are mandated to have a medical license to perform procedures involving blood drawing and separation, yet the spa owner in question lacked all necessary licenses. This not only violated established regulations but also put clients at serious risk of harm. The spa owner, Maria de Lourdes Ramos De Ruiz, faced legal repercussions for her actions, pleading guilty to practicing medicine without a license and receiving a jail sentence. The importance of enforcing regulations and holding individuals accountable for endangering public health cannot be overstated.

The case of the unregulated vampire facials serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers posed by unlicensed and unsanitary cosmetic procedures. The need for stringent oversight, proper training, and adherence to regulations in the beauty and wellness industry is evident. By learning from past mistakes and taking proactive measures to enforce safety standards, we can prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Public health must always be prioritized, and ensuring that all practitioners adhere to the highest standards of care is paramount in safeguarding the well-being of clients.


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