Spa treatment leaves woman in agony

After she got burned, she had to move around with her left arm pointing upwards for almost a month as it was swollen.
PHOTO: Spa treatment leaves woman in agony

Hoping to ease the pain in her aching hips and joints, she went for a whole-body cryotherapy session at an upmarket local spa last month.

The treatment involves entering a machine known as a cryosauna which releases vaporised nitrogen to lower the skin's surface temperature close to freezing point.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly until she noticed that her left upper arm looked like it had shrunk after the treatment.

Madam Celine (not her real name) claimed that pain shot through her body and she screamed in agony.

The French national, a Singapore permanent resident, is in her 40s and works in the creative industry.

She told The New Paper (TNP) last week that she suffered second-degree burns on her upper left arm, left breast and right elbow.

According to the spa's website, cryotherapy is a technique that uses extremely cold liquid nitrogen - as low as minus 180 deg C - in medical and clinical treatments.

The website claims that whole body cryotherapy can treat muscle pain and inflammation, and improve the immune system.

As she was suffering from aching hips and joints, the single mother of three children aged between 15 and 25 years old decided to give cryotherapy a shot.

As she was afraid of the freezing temperature, she decided to get cryotherapy done on her face first on May 31.

The 10-minute session cost $200.

Madam Celine said: "There was this machine and the therapist just passed this gas on my face and it felt cold. After that, my face went back to normal temperature and it was fine."

She returned to the spa on June 7 and paid $400 for two cryotherapy sessions. After getting her face treated that day, she returned on July 5 for the body treatment.

Then she realised her left upper arm had "shrunk".

"When I saw that, I freaked out. The therapist started massaging it."

The pain hit her only after her body warmed up, she said.

"After that I felt sick, like I wanted to throw up. I was feeling faint."

Madam Celine said she was told that a doctor had been called to treat her.

"The doctor looked at my arm and told me it should be OK. He might have given me some Panadol. He said, 'It's a bit red. Just rest'."

Blisters started appearing on the affected areas and she consulted her family doctor on Monday. He told her she had second-degree burns and wrapped the affected areas with gauze. She was put on painkillers and given two weeks' medical leave.

She consulted a plastic surgeon and was told the scars could be permanent.

She got her personal assistant to contact the spa's parent company about the incident.

When TNP contacted the spa's parent company, it replied via e-mail on Tuesday that it was unable to comment as it could become a legal case.

It also said that it has referred the case to its insurance company.

This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

Get MyPaper for more stories.