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Ho Chi Minh City spa uses dangerous substance in weight-loss therapy

Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 14:41 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City spa uses dangerous substance in weight-loss therapy
A person looks at the Facebook page of the owner of Spa A. showing the images of a person before and after applying the weight loss therapy that uses human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women.

A spa in Ho Chi Minh City has offered its customers a weight loss therapy that uses a dangerous hormone banned in the U.S. and many other countries.

The spa A. is located in District 7 and its owner, Le Hoai Anh, has said on her Facebook page that her weight loss therapy uses human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and is 100 percent effective.

Regarding the issue, a representative of the Ho Chi Minh City Society of Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that HCG, a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women, is banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from use in helping people lose weight.

Varied packages for weight loss using HCG

According to the information the spa sent via email, its weight loss therapy is a combination of a specific diet with an injection of a dose of HCG equivalent to 125-235 mg per day.

The spa offers three weight loss packages for clients to choose from.

Package 1 includes 12 injections of HCG that can help lose 3-5kg and costs VND41 million (US$1,830); package 2 consists of 23 injections that can help customers lose 7-10kg at a cost of VND79 million ($3,530), and package 3 entails 43 injections that can help lose 15-18kg and is priced at VND148 million ($6,600).

For customers who want to lose more than 18kg and up to 50kg, the spa will apply a specific package at different prices.

The above rates do not cover the cost of nutrition and is exclusive of value added tax (VAT), according to the spa.

“With more than 100,000 people around the world and over 100 in Vietnam having used this weight loss therapy, Spa A. guarantees that the rate of success is 100 percent,” the owner says in its program sent to potential customers via email.  

Anh said on her Facebook page that this therapy has helped her lose 29.3kg after 68 days.

She also cited many cases in which she said her customers had applied the therapy effectively.  

Unproven therapy

Meanwhile, the representative of the Ho Chi Minh City Society of Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery said, “Such a therapy is not scientifically proven. It has been warned against as it is very dangerous and contains unforeseeable risks, so no aesthetic doctors at the society have used it in weight loss treatment.”

“An HCG injection can cause side effects such as nausea, anorexia, headache, depression, red skin, pain in hipbone areas, tightness across the chest, difficulty breathing, numbness and swelling in the arms and legs, loss of concentration, and blood clots (thrombosis) that can lead to death,” the representative said.

HCG is a hormone that is found in the urine of pregnant women, and is applied in treating sterility in women and hormone disorder in men, under strict prescription by doctors, the society said.

There have yet to be reliable scientific reports on using HCG in weight loss treatment, so the U.S. and many other countries object to advertising or using HCG as an agent for weight loss, the society stressed.

Licensed or unlicensed?

On Tuesday, the spa owner, Anh, told Tuoi Tre over the phone that her place has been licensed to offer medical examination and treatment in the name of her younger brother.

The spa has doctors to serve customers and has obtained import licenses for pharmaceuticals that are used for its clients, Anh said.

Meanwhile, the private medical service management office under the Department of Heath affirmed on the same day that no spas were licensed at the address where Anh’s facility has been operating.

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