An unconventional new trend of penis whitening is reportedly captivating men in Thailand’s beauty industry.
The trend was brought to limelight after a viral video footage emerged online of a clinic – Lelux Hospital, carrying out the unusual procedure.
The video of the laser procedure which also had side-by-side images of a penis before and after the whitening process has garnered millions of views since it was posted. Though the online post seems to have been taken down, the picture of the procedure is still circulating from credible news sources.
According to a spokesman for the clinic, the penis whitening procedure, which breaks down melanin in the skin using lasers, cost around $480 for five sessions.
Popol Tansakul, the clinic’s marketing manager told the BBC that about 100 men visit Lelux Hospital each month for the procedure.
The hospital reportedly began performing the bizarre procedure six months ago after a patient complained about dark pigmentation on his groin.
“Patients started to ask about penis whitening, and so we started the treatment a month later.
“They are popular among gay men and transvestites who take good care of their private parts. They want to look good in all areas,” Popol Tansakul said.
Speaking to German news agency DPA,Tansakul said: “We use the same pigmentation laser equipment employed in other skin treatments. All of the equipment received certification [by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health].”
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However, health officials have warned that penile bleaching can lead to scarring, inflammation and “nasty looking spots,” urging people to have a rethink before undergoing the procedure.
“Penis laser whitening is not necessary, wastes money and may give more negative effects than positive ones,” Dr. Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn of Thailand’s Health Ministry’s said in a statement.
Laser treatments break up the skin’s pigmentation, and the process can definitely be dangerous. Reports reveal that if the power of the laser is high, it can cause redness, bloody sores, and subsequently possible infection. If the lasers are less intense, it could cause a freckling effect.
Given that a darker skin is associated with outdoor labor and being poorer, products and laser procedures that whiten the skin have become increasingly popular in Thailand, with a wide range of bleaching products on the market.
According to the BBC Thai Service, the whitening industry in the Asia-Pacific region measures up to about $ 2 billion a year. Advertisements for skin lightening treatments are shown widely on billboards and in newspapers, while pharmacies stock over-the-counter skin lightening products.
Medically, a patient who undergoes laser therapy may experience less pain, swelling, and scarring than with traditional surgery. It can also be expensive and require repeated treatments.
However, laser procedures which allow surgeons to work at high levels of precision by focusing on a small area, have some benefits.
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Lasers are more precise than traditional surgical instruments, and cuts can be made shorter and shallower, thereby causing less damage to the surrounding tissue. They are usually shorter than traditional surgeries and people also tend to heal faster with laser operations compared with traditional surgeries.