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Skin whitening is nothing new in many Asian countries, where darker skin is often associated with outdoor labor, therefore, being poorer. But even so, when a clip of a clinic's latest intriguing procedure was posted online, it quickly went viral.
Thailand's health ministry has since issued a warning over the procedure, saying it may cause possible side effects such as pain, inflammation or scars and even effects on the reproductive system and on having sex. Stopping treatment would also cause the skin color to return to normal and may result in "nasty-looking spots", the ministry added.
One patient who has undergone the treatment told reporters: "I wanted to feel more confident in my swimming briefs." The 30-year-old said his first session of several was two months ago, and he had since seen a definite change in the shade.
Popol Tansakul, marketing manager of Lelux Hospital which offers the service, said they had introduced vagina whitening services four months ago. "Patients started to ask about penis whitening, and so we started the treatment a month later," he explained. The cost of the laser procedure is $650 for five sessions. "The [procedure is] popular among gay men and transvestites who take good care of their private parts. They want to look good in all areas," Popol added.