Cosmetic complications surge in HCMC

By Le Phuong   January 17, 2024 | 10:41 pm PT
Cosmetic complications surge in HCMC
A doctor checks a woman suffering from a complication of cosmetic procedure at HCMC Dermatology Hospital. Photo by the hospital
Ho Chi Minh City Dermatology Hospital received over 600 cases of cosmetic dermatology complications last year, an increase of more than 1.5 times compared to four years ago.

The number of complications related to cosmetic procedures has been increasing annually, except for the pandemic year of 2021, Nguyen Thi Phan Thuy, the hospital’s deputy executive director said Tuesday.

She said of the cases last year, 69% were related to injections, which are medical procedures that involve injecting a substance under the skin to change an aspect of a person’s appearance, 16% were related to the use of lasers, light, and other energy-emitting devices for cosmetic purposes, and 10% were due to skin rejuvenation procedures and chemicals.

Advances in cosmetic dermatology over the past decade have led to a significant increase in non-surgical cosmetic techniques, but they also bring considerable risks and complications that can severely affect health and even life, Thuy said.

Non-surgical cosmetic procedures are defined as those that do not involve surgery or deep structural alterations to the body. In contrast, surgical cosmetic procedures are invasive and directly impact the body.

"The trend towards non-surgical beauty treatments is increasingly popular, and non-surgical cosmetics are a lucrative area many people are exploiting," Thuy said.

Several factors can lead to complications, she said, including from the patients themselves as their bodies reject the injected substances or because the patients fail to comply with the post-procedure care or do it improperly.

Another issue is the person performing the procedure, as their techniques and qualities are the most significant and crucial factor, Thuy said.

Statistics from the Ho Chi Minh City Dermatology Hospital show that nearly 78% of those performing non-surgical cosmetic procedures that resulted in complications were not doctors, and over 15% of patients were unable to determine whether the person performing their procedure was a doctor, noting only that they "wore a lab coat."

Complications can also arise due to inadequate facilities and equipment, such as using uncertified or faulty devices, unknown or untested injectable products, or adulterated substances.

Many procedures are carried out in non-sterile conditions, without necessary medical equipment, or in unlicensed cosmetic facilities.

Thuy said that complications are diverse and vary in severity, affecting health and even life.

In some noticeable cases, patients have experienced severe tissue inflammation and infections following fat-dissolving injections at spas, near-blindness from filler injections, and worsening pigmentation from laser treatments.

In one particular case, a man who had filler injections became blind, and despite the doctors' best efforts, his eyesight could not be saved, she shared.

"Doctors trained in cosmetic dermatology who perform procedures correctly have a very low probability of causing complications for patients," Thuy said.

She advises those seeking cosmetic treatments to visit hospitals that have cosmetic departments or reputable, licensed cosmetic facilities.

The HCMC’s Health Department also advises the public to be cautious when choosing invasive cosmetic services such as injections, surgeries, liposuction, and laser treatments.

The department said it's essential to select hospitals or specialized cosmetic clinics that have been legally licensed, and that people should not choose a cosmetic facility based solely on advertisements on social media.

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