Recently I received a few requests from patients who wanted me to inject skin whitening serum (美白针）for them in the clinic. When I declined, they invariably said they are willing to pay extra for the procedure. I explained to them the reasons why I didn't want to do it:
a. This skin whitening serum is not a listed medication and no self-respecting doctor will inject any medication which is not licensed. In Malaysia, most of the injections are done by beauticians in their clinics where basic sterilization and resuscitation equipments are not available.
b. There is no evidence that it works.
c. No decent doctors will inject any medications that patients bought on-line.
Out of curiosity, I decided to find out more about this skin whitening serum but could not find any articles in main line scientific publications. However, I eventually found a Taiwanese book in Kinokuniya Bookshop which gave a detailed explanation of this "magic" serum. Apparently, this serum was first concocted by a Taiwanese doctor to push sale in his aesthetic clinic. The previous life of this serum was meant for patients with chronic hepatitis B. Lisamin and vitaminc C are added as anti-oxidants and marketed as skin whitening serum. There is little evidence the serum works and the person who administered the serum uses certain tricks to convince the patients otherwise. The commonest trick is to get the patient to lie down during the intravenous injection for hours. In this position, the blood flow to the skin is reduced and the patients will appear fairer at the end of the procedure.
Here are some of the highlights of the chapter on skin whitening serum.