Chinese woman’s beauty treatment left her with near-fatal dose of botulism

Alice Yan

A woman from Shanghai had a near-fatal brush with botulism after being injected with a toxin as a part of a beauty treatment.

The 29-year-old from Shanghai, who goes by the alias Kuang Mei, was given botulinium toxin injections in her face at a clinic in the city this month, news portal reported.

Several days later, she found she was struggling to focus her eyes properly, suffered double vision and violent headaches and began to vomit.

Kuang sought medical help at a local hospital but was told that her eyesight was normal, while a magnetic resonance scan on her brain revealed no abnormalities. She told doctors that her voice had become hoarse and she was prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs to treat her throat.

But her poor health continued and she found it hard to swallow food and then began to suffer from fever and diarrhoea.

Doctors at various hospitals struggled to diagnose her symptoms correctly until she told medical staff at Shanghai Punan hospital about the injections she had received for her beauty treatment and they realised she was suffering from botulinum poisoning.

She was eventually released from hospital after two weeks of treatment.

On China’s medical websites, a catalogue of complaints can be found from patients who have suffered symptoms similar to Kuang after taking botulinum toxin jabs.

Chinese teen who died during cosmetic surgery had severe reaction to anaesthetic

According to online public consultations, people who show symptoms of botulism are urged to take an antivirus injection which is only available at major medical centres.

China’s medical beauty industry has expanded rapidly in the past few years thanks to demand from the country’s growing middle class, but surgical errors leading to disfigurement and deaths have been reported.

In September, a 32-year-old woman in southwestern Chongqing province suffered an adverse reaction to botulinum toxin injections in her shoulder and feet at an unlicensed clinic, news portal reported. She recovered after two weeks in hospital.

Kuang Mei, from Shanghai, suffered botulism after a cosmetic procedure involving botulinum injections. Photo: Weibo

Last month, a 33-year-old woman from Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province died after breast augmentation surgery at a clinic, The Beijing News said.

In January, a 19-year-old student from southern Guizhou province died from an allergic reaction to anaesthetic during surgery on her nose.

Revenues for the mainland’s medical beauty market almost doubled from 87 billion yuan (US$12.1 billion) in 2015 to 171.2 billion yuan (US$23.9 billion) last year, according to figures from Beijing-based market research company Zhiyan Consultancy.

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