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Nguyen Thi Phuong: Vietnamese woman ages 50 years in ‘a few days’

  • Doctors speculate Nguyen Thi Phuong may have entirely new syndrome

By Claire Bates

Last updated at 11:29 AM on 15th October 2011

These pictures may look like an attractive woman in her 20s and her grandmother.

But they are said to be the same person – apparently taken just days apart.

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.

Nguyen, 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.

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

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 Nguyen Thi Phuong: Vietnamese woman ages 50 years in a few days  Nguyen Thi Phuong: Vietnamese woman ages 50 years in a few days

Rapid ageing: A mystery condition has apparently caused Nguyen Thi Phuong’s face to sag and wrinkle over a matter of day. She is pictured aged 21 on the left and 26 on the right

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 ‘ageing’ effect.

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

Mrs Nguyen believes her condition was caused by a life-long allergy to seafood.

She said she had suffered a particularly bad reaction in 2008.

‘I was really itchy all over my body. I had to scratch even while sleeping.’

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 medicineand all the hives disappeared, together with my itching. however, my skin began to sag and fold.’

Mrs Nguyen 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.

The couple do not remember what the medicine was or which pharmacy they got it from.

 Nguyen Thi Phuong: Vietnamese woman ages 50 years in a few days

Our love hasn’t faded: Tuven (pictured) said he still loved his wife but they hadn’t had children as their lives were too difficult

Mrs Nguyen 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 Ihave never had a child.

‘But the rapid-aging syndrome hasn’t affected my menstrual cycle, hair, teeth, eyes and mind.’

In 2010, the couple migrated to the southern province of Binh Phuoc’s Bu Dop District where they rent a small wooden house.

THE MYSTERY CONDITION

It could be…. Lipodystrophy

This is a rare syndrome which causes a layer of fatty tissue beneath the surface of the skin to disintegrate while the skin itself continues to grow at a startling pace

It has no cure and leaves victims with loose folds of skin on their bodies as well as wrinkled faces and features of people much hold.

Only 2,000 people are thought to have the condition

Or it might be…. Cushing’s Syndrome

This can be triggered if a person has very high levels of a hormone called cortisol in their blood.

Common symptoms include weight gain, rounding of the face due to deposits of fat developing there and thinning of the skin.

It often occurs as a side effect of treatment with corticosteroids.

Women are five times more likely to develop endogenous Cushing’s syndrome than men, with most cases affecting people who are 25 to 40 years old.

Mr Nguyen continued to work as a carpenter while Phuong got a job at a cashew-nut processing factory.  Both earn a total of less than

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