Recent health emergencies at Hong Kong beauty clinics

  • Some common facelift treatments do not require a doctor to be present
  • There are no regulations governing the use of medical devices
PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 4:54pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 5:35pm

The news that another woman has died while undergoing a beauty procedure in Hong Kong will renew concerns about the safety of the city’s beauty industry and its regulation.

The 52-year-old woman was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Sunday after passing out following Botox injections, and was certified dead on Monday morning.

Plastic surgeon Dr Franklin Li Wang-pong, 86, was taken into police custody in connection with the incident. He is suspected of violating regulations on the use of dangerous drugs.

A police source said the woman had received some 16 shots of Botox at the clinic.

Common facelift procedures such as Botox injections and ultrasound treatment may legally be performed in Hong Kong without a doctor being present. There are also no regulations governing the use of medical devices – which include a wide range of items, from hot and cold packs to breast implants.

Sunday’s incident was not the first of its kind. Here are some other recent ones in Hong Kong:


On November 1, a 41-year-old woman fell ill after receiving Botox injections in both calves at her home from a Chinese beautician. She experienced weakness, hoarseness, and had difficulty swallowing.

The following day, a 24-year-old woman was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital after she had Botox injected in her face at a Tsim Sha Tsui salon. She felt weak, dizzy and nauseous, and experienced shortness of breath.

The Centre for Health Protection is investigating both incidents. Both patients remain in stable condition.

Botox, or botulinum toxin, was initially used for medical purposes, but is now often used in cosmetic procedures to prevent wrinkles or to slim down targeted areas by paralysing muscles.

Doctors warn that if a client receives an overdose of Botox or it is injected in the wrong place, position, their respiratory muscles can be paralysed, leading to difficulty in breathing or even death.

Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cell therapy

Three women underwent beauty chain DR Group’s cytokine-induced killer cell treatment, an experimental cancer therapy which was said to enhance their immune system. It involves blood being taken, processed and reintroduced into the patient’s body.

Chan Yuen-lam, 46, died in October 2012 after being treated for blood poisoning in Ruttonjee Hospital, Wan Chai, seven days after blood that had been extracted from her body for processing was reintroduced to her body.

Another woman who underwent the same procedure spent more than a year in hospital, and had to have her legs and four fingers amputated. The third woman spent six months in hospital and was left with permanent injuries.

The beauty chain owner was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter and a technician for 10 years.


A 21-year-old woman needed hospital treatment after undergoing liposuction, a cosmetic procedure to remove fat from the human body, at a private clinic in October 2014. She is believed to have been having fat removed from her thighs at the time. She was in critical condition when admitted to the intensive-care unit at Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai.