Business / Industries

New warnings on HK beauty treatments

By Fan Feifei in Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-16 09:50

Complaints about invasive beauty treatments, including plastic surgery, cosmetic injections and laser therapy jumped 40 percent in the first 10 months of this year over the same period last year, Hong Kong's Consumer Council said on Thursday. There were 141 complaints over the first 10 months of 2012, compared to 103 during the corresponding period last year.

The leading cause of complaints is that customers didn't get the results they thought they'd paid for. Some were left disfigured with scars that will last a lifetime, redness of the skin, burning sensations and in some complaints, medical complications.

One of the complaints came from Miss Chow, who paid HK$380,000 ($49,022) for salon beauty treatments. Three days before her wedding, the salon recommended skin whitening injections costing HK$4,500. After the treatment, her cheeks turned red and swollen. She complained her face felt hot and painful.

Though she was then referred by the beauty salon to an associated clinic for medical consultation and was prescribed some medications for her face, the problems persisted two days later.

The council said some of the consumers complained about being lobbied by companies to sign up for expensive treatments of which they knew little or nothing about the risks and effects. They were not told whether the staff members were well qualified to administer the injections or procedures.

In another case, Miss Lam paid for a hyaluronic acid injection treatment to raise the bridge of her nose. On the day of treatment, the doctor suggested she buy additional injections to reshape her nose and face. She paid HK$12,000 for three additional doses.

Lam said she felt numbness on both sides of her nose and upper lip during the treatment. The numbness was still there a week later. Lam, later was diagnosed by a different physician, with damaged neurilemma. She lost 50 to 70 percent sensation on the sides of her nose and cheeks. It took months for her to recover.

The council suggested consumers think twice before undergoing invasive beauty treatments, evaluating carefully the safety and risks of the treatment. They also should not take the risk of undergoing treatments by unqualified personnel, and should evaluate the credentials of practitioners.

The Consumer Council also called on the government to specify guidelines and policies with a view to regulating beauty services and procedures, in order to safeguard the interests and safety of consumers.

King Wing-keung, president of the Hong Kong Association of Cosmetic Surgery, told China Daily that people should find registered physicians, rather than beauticians, to carry out invasive beauty treatments in order to reduce risks. Customers ought to be advised of potential risks before receiving treatment, he added.

Four working groups under a steering committee, have been set up to review the regulatory regime for private healthcare facilities in the wake of the death of a beauty salon client, who underwent an intravascular infusion at a beauty salon. The groups have been working since early November.

One group will differentiate between medical procedures and practices, and beauty services. It will address the health risk posed when beauty salons improperly perform medical procedures under the cover of providing "medical beauty services".

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