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Doctors Stupefied in Case of Woman who Aged 50 Years in ‘a Few Days’

The young Vietnamese woman at the centre of the improbable medical case, Nguyen Thi Phuong, claims the transformation may have come about because of an extreme allergy to seafood, the Daily Mail reports.

Phuong, 26, says she developed this puffy face and sagging skin in 2008 but was too poor to seek treatment. Earlier this month, doctors said they would examine her free of charge.

Phuong’s husband, carpenter Thanh Tuyen, insists the story is true and his love has not faded for his once-beautiful wife.

She has always worn wear a mask in public to hide her appearance from prying eyes, but she has now sought help from doctors to see if they can reverse the “aging” effect.

Displaying photos of a beautiful 21-year-old woman on her wedding day in 2006, Phuong said, “Five years ago, I was rather pretty and not so ugly like this, right?”

Phuong believes her condition was caused by a life-long allergy to seafood. She said she had suffered a particularly bad reaction in 2008.

Phuong said she took some medicine bought at a local pharmacy instead of going to the hospital because her and her husband Tuyen, now 33, were too poor to afford it.


She said: “After one month of taking the drugs, I became less itchy but hives remained on my skin. Then I switched to traditional medicine and all the hives disappeared, together with my itching. However, my skin began to sag and fold.”

Phuong then took another kind of traditional medicine to treat her rapid-aging skin problem, but to no avail.

Doctors say it may have been the long-term use of traditional medicines that caused the condition as they are often spiked with corticoids. These steroids speed up the effects of the unregulated remedies but could also have triggered the rare skin disease mastocytosis, where the body produces too many mast cells.

Phuong said, “We considered that it was our destiny and I quit treatment in 2009. Now I always wear a face mask whenever I go out. The skin on my face, chest and belly have folds like an old woman who has given birth several times although I have never had a child. But the rapid-aging syndrome hasn’t affected my menstrual cycle, hair, teeth, eyes and mind.”


On Oct. 2, doctors from Phuong Dinh Chieu Hospital in Ben Tre Province said they would examine Phuong for free and send her to the HCMC Dermatology Hospital if they failed to diagnose her condition.

There is already some disagreement among doctors over the cause of the rare condition. Some say she may suffer from the wrongful use of corticoid (the sudden stop leading to Cushing’s Syndrome), while others believe rapid aging could not be a side effect of a medical substance (“aging is not a common sign of Cushing’s Syndrome”).

One doctor, Doctor Hoang Van Minh from the Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University Hospital, said Phuong needs to be treated for her allergies first.

He added that his treatment plan could restore between 50-70 percent of her skin to normal and laser therapy could reduce the folds.