A number of women have developed worrying side effects after using services from beauty salons in Hanoi over the past months this year, a sign that points toward inadequate oversight by local authorities.
In July, a woman paid a beauty shop over VND45 million (US$1,934) for 36 tubes of essential oil, so that it injected the substance into her abdominal region.
The result was disappointing though, with the belly turning saggier and pale for a prolonged time.
But that is not all, as she also suffered from week-long attacks of diarrhea that were supposedly caused by weight-loss pills and stubbornly continued despite the medication usually effective in handling the illness.
She then discovered many of the pills had actually been put in a packet to become generic because the beauty center said it wished to keep their original formula secret.
She is just one of the women who were once customers of more than 100 beauty parlors in Hanoi, which have carried out intrusive procedures, ones that involve bleeding, although they are already banned from doing so.
The services include injecting fillers for better-looking facial appearance, and eyebrow and lip microblading, a form of tattoo using tiny needles that pierce the skin to create well-defined eyebrows or ever-red lips.
Pham Cao Kiem, head of the surgical department at the National Hospital of Dermatology and Venereology in the capital, said his ward received patients with complications from filler injection at beauty shops nearly every month.
At least four such visits of serious condition have been recorded over the past three months, Kiem added.
Regulating beauty parlors is a nagging problem that is complicated by misunderstanding amidst local authorities.
Activities of a licensed beauty salon, which provides only nonintrusive procedures, are controlled by the district administration.
But when such a shop offers intrusive ones in its advertisement, the local government thinks it has been authorized by health agencies, which in fact suppose the government is managing all these additional services.
Beauty salons have been given too much leeway as a result.
The severity of punishment may not be deterrent enough.
Beauty parlors are handed a fine no more than VND10 million ($430) for advertising intrusive procedures, a sum far below the cost for a cosmetic service package they provide.