Dec 13, 2018-Beauty products were once simpler—foundation, eye shadow, lip pigment and hair colour. But now, they’ve taken on a more insidious edge, promising the restoration of a woman’s virginity and the enlargement, or reduction, of breasts and bottoms. These new-age creams and gels are mostly advertised through suspicious social media pages, and sold through retail outlets, where they promise impossible odds. But worse than assurances are the potential detriments to health, given that these over-the-counter medicated lotions, ointments and pills often do not list their constituent components on the packaging and are not regulated by any government body. The advertised results thus may be bogus or even dangerous.
A gel that claims to restore virginity in women is definitely a bogus product, according to Dr Surendra Jung Basnet, Senior Consultant Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon at the Nepal Plastic Cosmetic and Laser Centre. “There is a surgical procedure that we can perform to restore virginity in females. As a surgeon, all I can say is that there is no procedure other than surgery to restore virginity,” he said.At Fashion Fever Nepal, a supplier of such ‘beauty’ products that has outlets in various parts of Kathmandu and also provides courier services all over the country, a salesperson admitted that the ‘virginity gel’ doesn’t restore virginity but when applied half an hour before sexual contact, it tightens the vagina for 24 hours.Dr Basnet, however, was unaware of the gel’s side-effects. “This is the first time we’ve heard about such a product,” he said. “We are totally unaware about its side-effects because we don’t know what ingredients are used to manufacture those products.”Similarly, doctors expressed their reservations over products that claim to increase or reduce the size of breasts. “We have many clients who have come to us after failed attempts to use these types of gels, oils or creams,” said Dr Jayan Man Shrestha, consultant and Plastic, Cosmetic and Hand surgeon at Grande International Hospital. “Then, to achieve their desired shape and size, they undergo surgery after many consultations with our team.” Fashion Fever Nepal is just one of the many outlets that been advertising these shady products that are imported from Thailand. Many other social media marketers sell similar products and in the international market, they are even available on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. In Nepal, neither doctors nor regulatory bodies have determined these products as safe or even defined the extent of the adverse effects they may cause. Narayan Prasad Dhakal, Director General at the Department of Drug Administration, said that there isn’t a specific regulatory body to monitor the quality of such beauty products. “We are working on a new Drug Act and hopefully then, we will be able to establish a monitoring body and investigate concerns about these types of products being sold in the Nepali market,” he said. Social media marketers are, however, posting positive customer responses on their pages and endorsing these solutions as “genuine”. The doctors warned that it may take considerable time for the potential side-effects to manifest physically, enough for the user to take notice. “Tissues are the major parts where these products need to act in order to generate results. A tissue reacts slowly, due to which the product’s side-effects could only be seen after a long time,” said Dr Shrestha.
It is therefore important to study these products, learn about their components and side-effects, if any, as soon as possible, said Dr Sheela Verma, gynaecologist and former medical director at Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital. Although she hasn’t yet encountered any patient with complaints after using such products, she is keen to learn about these ointments as they may pose serious dangers to women’s health. Nevertheless, doctors suggest that users take potential health impacts into account before using these products and to undergo routine check-ups after use.