After Miami’s Ultra Music Festival in March, a debilitated crowd rebuffed the hair of the dog for the new South Beach fix: intravenous vitamin and electrolyte cocktails at Reviv, a buzzy “Hydration Med-Spa” that opened off Collins Avenue last summer and will expand to Las Vegas’s MGM Grand — where it will be open daily until midnight — in the next two weeks.
Naysayers argue that the efficacy of these treatments is unsubstantiated, and discourage it as a weight-loss strategy, though a recent Cancer Treatment
Centers of America study showed noteworthy benefits from vitamin C delivered via IV. Celebrities — particularly touring rock stars like Rihanna and Madonna, reportedly — have long ducked into private medical offices for IV fluids, B12 and glutathione shots, fed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing pesky digestion to rehydrate, dispel toxins and balance the skin. Now, a smattering of IV “bars” and “cafes” are looking to render this once alternative medical treatment as de rigueur as a manicure.
Reviv’s mostly walk-in clients undergo brief medical screenings before settling in for their 20- to 60-minute drips (from $99), which may help remedy everything from sunburns to the flu. “We apply numbing spray and insert a small needle, then you decide where to chill,” describes its co-founder and E.R. doctor, Johnny Parvani. Clients pass the time in massage chairs, private rooms, at the oxygen bar or in front of flat-screen TVs — all while enjoying amenities like signature energy drinks (made by Reviv with 8,000 percent of daily B-12 requirements, as well as amino acids, enzymes and caffeine) and Internet surfing on complimentary iPads.
The core concept is spreading fast: Reviv is considering locations in Toronto, L.A. and New York (where drips are mostly exclusive to doctors’ offices like Patients Medical or Manhattan Integrative Medicine and require at least a substantial consultation). In L.A., Earthbar Vibrance — set at the back of one of West Hollywood’s most established juice press hubs — offers “classics” like the Myers’ cocktail (magnesium, calcium, B and C vitamins), developed by a Baltimore doctor in the 1970s to treat issues from sinusitis to fibromyalgia.
Lauren Beardsley, resident naturopathic medical director at Montelucia Resort’s Joya Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., adds mood-stabilizing amino acid boosts to her customized drips. For guests receiving cosmetic antiaging acupuncture amid Moroccan-themed splendor and signature aromatherapy, she recommends a simultaneous high-dose vitamin C IV to encourage collagen formation.
Abroad, where these types of spots originated, services are even more risqué: in 2008, Tokyo’s first Tenteki 10 Café opened with “drop-in” IV infusions like the Placenta Pack with, yes, human placenta. The same year, London’s Ef Medispa introduced “Drip & Chill” lounges, where, while enjoying “MediPod” music with complementary vibrations, clients can have their blood reoxygenated with ultraviolet lights, then recycled through the same cannula (a treatment pioneered by Scandinavian athletes). For the founder Esther Fieldgrass, IVs are the new normal: “Just as Botox is now commonplace, in a few years time, you will see [drip] lounges cropping up on the High Street.”