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  • 2 people contracted HIV after getting "vampire facial" treatments at a spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico, causing people to question the safety of the anti-aging treatment.
  • Vampire facials require extracting a person's blood, separating it in a centrifuge, and injecting the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) back into the face to reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture.
  • According to dermatologist Marisa Garshick, the treatment is safe for nearly anyone as long as sterile equipment is used.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider South Africa.

Two people have contracted HIV after getting "vampire facial" treatments at a spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico, calling into question the safety of the buzzy skincare treatment celebrities seem to love. But this incident aside, the treatment, which involves extracting a person's blood and then injecting it into their face, is generally safe.

The New Mexico Department of Health issued a warning on Monday urging anyone who came into contact with needles at VIP Spa to get tested for HIV as well as other blood-borne viruses like Hepatitis B and C.

VIP Spa has been closed since September 2018, after the health department found the business wasn't licensed and improperly cared for and disposed of needles, according to the Albuquerque Journal. There's a "high likelihood" that both HIV cases are linked to the vampire facials the people received, according to Dr. Teirney Murphy, a medical epidemiologist with the health department.

Vampire facials gained popularity in 2013, when Kim Kardashian shared a selfie on Instagram with her face covered in blood. She also talked about the treatment on the television show "Kourtney and Kim Take Miami."

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Now, vampire facials are offered as a treatment option at a number of dermatologists' offices and spa centers across the US.

Vampire facials involve injecting blood into your face to reduce wrinkles and fine lines

Vampire facials involve extracting a person's blood, then separating it in a centrifuge in order to get platelet-rich plasma, or PRP. This PRP contains "growth factors" like the anti-aging protein collagen that help repair injuries to body tissue. PRP is used in beauty treatments in order to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and create a smoother texture on the skin, according to dermatologist Marisa Garshick.

PRP is also used to repair tendon injuries, alleviate joint and muscle problems, and potentially promote hair growth in people with hair loss.

In a vampire facial, a dermatologist separates PRP from the rest of the blood, and then injects it back into the person's face. Injections can be done using a single needle placed in various areas of the face (similar to the process used for filler injections) or with microneedling, a procedure that involves a pen-like device the has a small needle-filled tip.

"The microscopic needles create teeny tiny holes in the skin, and when you add the PRP it helps stimulate collagen, which we lose over time [with aging]," Dr. Garshick told INSIDER.

For the most part, vampire facials are safe

Although the VIP Spa news raised a red flag about the safety of the vampire facial, Dr. Garshick said it's a safe treatment almost anyone can try.

"If you have any bleeding disorders or abnormalities with platelets, it may not be as effective of a treatment for you, but generally, most people can be candidates for vampire facials," she said.

In order to ensure you're getting a safe and sterile facial, Dr. Garshick recommends looking for a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon to do the procedure.

If you are considering going to a spa for a vampire facial, Dr. Garshick suggests seeing if the company receives oversight on how to perform the treatment from a board certified professional. Just because a place refers to itself as a "medical spa" doesn't mean it uses appropriate health and safety measures.

As long as you choose a reliable business where needles are being disposed of after each person's treatment and the blood being injected is only your own, you shouldn't run into problems.

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