Fitness + Well-being

People are injecting themselves with blood from teens

 (Courtesy of CNP Montrose via Allure)

Since the beginning of recorded history, we’ve been in hot pursuit of the fountain of youth. Cleopatra had her daily baths in donkey milk, Elizabethan women wore cold cut sheet masks, and Marie Antoinette’s ladies used wine toners in the name of fighting off Father Time. Today, we have a lot more science on our side, but that isn’t stopping us from going to even greater lengths to stay young forever. The latest anti-aging tactic sounds straight out of a witchy science fiction story: teenage blood treatments.

Using blood — or more technically, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) — in skincare isn’t totally unheard of. “Using platelet-rich plasma is a very hot trend right now in dermatology,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of clinical and cosmetic research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York tells Allure. “It is being used to improve skin tone and texture, wrinkles, and even promote hair growth.” In trendy treatments currently on the market, a patient’s own blood is drawn and then treated so a doc can extract the platelets. It’s used for everything from eyebrow injections to topical creams.

“The idea is that the plasma of the blood is rich in proteins and growth factors that promote healthy skin cell functioning and may encourage older or lazy cells to behave more like young cells,” says Zeichner. It was only a matter of time before someone took that idea and wondered how much better the effect would be if we used blood even younger than our own. Enter Ambrosia a biotech startup that’s currently testing that exact thing.

According to a report from CNBC, the company has about 100 customers 35 and over who are coughing up $8,000 a pop to receive young blood plasma transfusions. New Beauty reported that so far, participants in the trials have seen lower levels of cancer-causing carcinoembryonic antigens, lower cholesterol, and a lowered Alzheimer’s risk. Impressive, but there's a major caveat — their trials don’t have a control group, which stirs up some doubt when it comes to scientific validity.

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If the idea of using some high schooler’s blood to fight wrinkles seems super intense, you’re not crazy — there are important safety concerns, the biggest of which is that these treatments use someone else’s blood (current PRP treatments on the market use your own juices). “As with any transfusion, it is important to make sure that the blood is properly screened to prevent spread of an infectious disease,” Zeichner says. According to CNBC, the source of Ambrosia’s fountain of youth is the blood bank, which sells donated blood to heath care companies.

So is the idea of sucking youth straight from the source scientifically legit? “Larger scale studies over a long period of time will be needed to assess whether this treatment is truly effective, and if it is, more effective than traditional treatments we are currently using,” Zeichner says. If they really do work, teenage blood treatments could have big implications for how you take care of your skin as you age, he says. Who knew vampirism would be an innovator in the skin care industry?