ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The owner of a shuttered spa is now facing dozens of charges, after at least two clients were diagnosed with HIV after receiving “vampire facials,” at the facility back in 2018. Maria Ruiz is facing 24 felony counts ranging from tax evasion to illegal practice of medicine and various other public safety crimes in New Mexico.

Ruiz was busted running an illegal medical spa back in 2018. The Attorney General’s Office began their investigation when two of Ruiz’s clients were diagnosed with HIV, after getting vampire facials. “We knew we had to shut the business down,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas.

A vampire facial is a non-surgical facelift where a patient’s blood is drawn, then components of the blood are injected back into the face using microneedles. Ruiz did not have the appropriate medical license required to perform these kinds of procedures. “These are procedures that should be supervised by a medical doctor,” said Balderas.

Both Ruiz’s cosmetology and business licenses had long since expired. The report says Ruiz had done a good job at creating the illusion that she was properly trained in these practices, forging numerous certificates, and even a fake degree from the University of Phoenix. “She deceived many women into trusting her, and her facility,” said Balderas.

KRQE News 13 asked Balderas how something like this could possibly slip through the cracks, he explained the regulation and licensing department has limited jurisdiction. “They don’t have the ability to go and inspect equipment to make sure it’s sanitized, they can only receive cursory complaints,” said Balderas.

The Attorney Generals’ Office and the Department released a list of questions for consumers to ask before receiving any kind of procedure like a vampire facial. Those questions are listed below.

  1. Whether or not the establishment uses universal precautions – similar to tattoo parlors or a medical facility.
  2. What precautions are utilized?
  3. Who will be performing the procedure? 
  4. Will it be performed by a licensed medical professional? Cosmetologists and estheticians are not licensed to conduct medical procedures. At a minimum, one must be qualified as a phlebotomist to draw blood, and if injections are administered below the subdermis, a nurse or physician must perform the procedure.
  5. Does the establishment have a medical director? If so, what are their qualifications?  Is it a physician or a nurse practitioner?