FDA warns against using ‘vampire plasma’ to reverse aging

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(CNN/Gray News) – The movement to look and feel younger continues to be big business – but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down.

The agency issued a statement recently warning consumers against using plasma infusions from young donors, saying the purported anti-aging benefits do not exist.

“Simply put, we’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies,” the FDA said.

Dubbed “vampire plasma,” companies are hawking the infusion treatment for thousands of dollars, claiming to treat a number of conditions.

“The conditions range from normal aging and memory loss to serious diseases like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease or post-traumatic stress disorder,” the FDA said. “We have significant public health concerns about the promotion and use of plasma for these purposes. There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product.

“Moreover, reports we’re seeing indicate that the dosing of these infusions can involve administration of large volumes of plasma that can be associated with significant risks including infectious, allergic, respiratory and cardiovascular risks, among others.”

While the FDA “strongly” discourages consumers from falling for these fountain of youth claims, there are some treatments where a patient’s own plasma is used, and those remain legal.

Some practitioners use platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is drawn from a patient’s arm and injected into their face or scalp, as a treatment meant to make them look younger, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

PRP was first used in orthopedics to help athletes recover more quickly after injuries.

"We sort of converted it over in the aesthetics industry to help promote collagen synthesis in the skin. We also use it to promote hair growth in the scalp and delay hair loss,” said Dr. Benjamin Strong, a facial plastic surgeon.

One popular treatment is the “vampire facial,” made famous by Kim Kardashian and social media.

Strong said “vampire facials, or PRP facials,” are for people looking to rejuvenate their skin, to address minor superficial wrinkling or “texture issues,” or just to create a "healthier glow to the skin.”

According to MD Magazine, investigators reviewing studies on using PRP for skin treatment found it was “a successful treatment for various dermatologic conditions, including androgenetic alopecia (AGA), scars, nasolabial folds, and photoaging.”

But the American Academy of Dermatology says “there’s little evidence to show that it works – or doesn’t work.”