Illegal procedures at beauty salons deliver ugly results

By Kim Ngan   October 8, 2022 | 04:18 pm PT
Illegal procedures at beauty salons deliver ugly results
Breast implants used in a plastic surgery. Photo courtesy of Freepik
Tricked into having cosmetic surgery and other esthetic procedures at unlicensed beauty salons, many people suffer consequences.

Swayed by a celebrity vouching for the quality and safety of skin procedures at a beauty salon in a Facebook advertisement, HCMC resident Huong decided to get some special facial treatment there.

However, two days later, her body began to experience abnormal symptoms. A dermatologist said she’d been injected with some poor quality filler.

Misleading advertisements have lured many people like Huong to salons that are not licensed to offer special procedures or treatments.

Only about 100 beauty salons in Hanoi are licensed to perform invasive cosmetic procedures. In HCMC, 10 hospitals and 200 salons are licensed.

However, it is estimated that there are more than 5,000 salons in the country performing cosmetic surgeries illegally.

Associate Professor Dr Do Quang Hung, vice president of the Ho Chi Minh City Plastic Surgery Association, said that with unlicensed personnel including spa staff performing cosmetic procedures, the rate of patients with complications was growing rapidly.

According to the Vietnamese Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, of around 250,000 people who have cosmetic surgeries every year, 25,000-30,000 suffer from complications.

The most common complications are related to the eyes (42%), nose (31%) and fillers (22%), the society says.

Ho Chi Minh City has recently seen a slew of cosmetic surgery accidents, some of which have been fatal.

A 24-year-old woman from District 10 died after being anesthetized for a cosmetic surgery; and a 31-year-old spa worker in District 8 died after having a rhinoplasty and abdominal liposuction.

Hanoi resident Oanh had gained weight after giving birth to a child and felt insecure about her body. She went to a beauty salon that advertised non-invasive fat reduction procedures on the Internet.

The salon promised her that just 30 minutes after collagen fibers are implanted, she would lose 10kg, and it would cost her just VND20 million (US$850).

"They assured me it was non-invasive and non-surgical. They said I needed to get the implant just once.

"But it was actually a scam."

She ended up paying six times the advertised cost. The staff injected the collagen manually, instead of the modern equipment advertised.

"They implanted the fibers directly with needles. The fibers were inside the needle. They did not do the implant just once as advertised, but three or four times. After that, I had to take medicines."

Oanh said she was not treated by doctors with international qualifications as advertised, but by nurses and pharmacists. In fact, not a single doctor was present to supervise the process and ensure safety.

Experts say people tend to go to beauty salons for cosmetic surgeries, and only go to hospitals for treatment once they develop complications.

The dubious salons take advantage of people’s desire to improve their looks with a quick fix at a low price.

When patients suffer complications, these salons deny any responsibility. They simply change their names and continue to function unhindered, reports say.

The HCMC Department of Health says it has inspected all beauty salons in the city and penalized 26 individuals and entities. Of these, five unlicensed establishments were fined more than VND100 million each and suspended for 18 months.

Huong said she was still dealing with the consequences after a year of taking medicines.

"I went to a doctor and it has cost me VND4-5 million ($167-209). I have inflammation in my eyelids and look very ugly.

"In the past few months, I have taken a lot of medicines. Besides the expenses, the filler threatens my health. I was tricked into being injected with substances that I did not agree to."

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