Shanghai hospitals probed for risky cosmetic therapy

SHANGHAI - Two cosmetology hospitals in Shanghai are now being investigated on allegations that they gave patients platelet rich plasma injections (PRP), a procedure that has not yet got Chinese health authorities' approval.

PRP therapy involves taking blood from patients and then using a lab procedure to separate the blood cells, serum and platelets, which are then injected directly back into the skin that needs rejuvenation.

Platelets release growth factors that stimulate cells to regenerate new tissue and help the body repair itself, removing wrinkles and improving skin tone.

The therapy is often referred to as "Dracula" or "vampire" therapy.

The two private hospitals, Shanghai Wanzhong Hospital and Shanghai Elikeme Medical Cosmetology Hospital, have already been ordered to stop offering such skin rejuvenation treatment and to be further investigated by local supervision departments, according to a statement by the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau.

"The hospitals are now under investigation. They will receive warnings and fine for violations when the investigation is finished," said an official surnamed Wang.

Women are often attracted by the fancy-sounding facial revitalization treatment, which usually costs 50,000 to 100,000 yuan ($8,000 to $16,000) and is widely advertised by beauty salons.

However, the Ministry of Health has never approved the procedure's use in the country.

"PRP is a therapy that is seeing more use in some countries for releasing growth factors into tissue healing, rejuvenating skin and treating sports injuries," said Sun Baoshan, plastic surgeon at Shanghai No 9 People's Hospital, who is also secretary-general of the Shanghai Medical Cosmetology Quality Control Center.

"But the technique is not yet fully developed. There are not enough high-quality clinical trials on its benefits in the field of cosmetology," Sun told China Daily on Thursday.

Even so, PRP therapy is widely available in some private hospitals, Sun said.

"It indeed has a very high risk. Local departments should strengthen the supervision," he said. Earlier this month, a 46-year-old woman died one week after receiving DC-CIK therapy at a beauty salon in Hong Kong.

She was diagnosed with septic shock, and her blood samples had grown the bacterium Mycobacterium abscessus, according to Hong Kong health authorities.

Three other Hong Kong women who received the treatment also were diagnosed with septic shock and hospitalized.

DC-CIK was defined by Hong Kong health authorities as a risky procedure that involves the "concentration and processing of blood taken from the person, and subsequent infusion of the mixture back into the patient".

"The whole procedure needs stricter environment control, and ordinary medical bodies don't have the condition for it," Sun said.

"In fact, many private cosmetology hospitals conduct illegal operations in which blood can be very easily contaminated during processing, putting patients' lives at high risk."

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