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Doctor warns weight loss therapy runs infection risk

TAIPEI--A plastic surgeon said Wednesday that those seeking to lose weight should think twice before embarking on a trendy new Chinese weight-loss therapy that takes traditional acupuncture to a new level but carries an increased risk of infection.

Chen Shih-yi, a plastic surgeon at Tungs' Taichung Metro Harbor Hospital in central Taiwan, said that while most people are content to receive just traditional acupuncture to help stimulate the metabolism, an increasing number are looking for a more aggressive approach, such as the higher-risk catgut-point embedding therapy.

The technique uses catgut — a type of cord made from the natural fiber found in the walls of sheep's intestines — that is embedded in acupuncture points to help the patient lose weight. The technique came to recent attention when a woman suffered a bacterial infection as a result of the treatment that saw her develop about 30 coin-sized pustules on her abdomen, arms and thighs, he said.

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