Hu Juan, a 28-year-old mother of two from Hunan, China, suffers from a rare condition known as Cutis laxa which has caused the skin on her face and neck to age at an accelerated rate, leaving her looking like a woman in her 60s or 70s.
The young woman’s nightmare began 11 years ago, right after she gave birth to her eldest son. She started noticing that her appearance was changing fast and just six months after giving birth, her youthful looks had deteriorated drastically to the point where she could hardly recognize herself in the mirror. Hu Juan was diagnosed with Cutis laxa, an extremely rare connective tissue disorder that causes the skin to become loose, saggy and wrinkled at a very rapid speed due to loss of elasticity. It has only affected her face and neck, and several medical checkups over the years revealed that she is otherwise in good health. Hu Juan is the only known Cutis laxa sufferer in China and one of ten worldwide.
For the past 11 years, the once beautiful woman has rarely been able to look at herself in the mirror or leave the house. The cruel disorder also caused a rift between her and her eldest son as he is ashamed she looks so old for her age. Her unattractive looks, the son’s rejection and people’s upsetting comments plunged Hu Juan into a deep depression, and she once tried to take her own life. Luckily, her husband’s love and support throughout this seemingly never-ending ordeal have given her strength to carry on and hope that she will one day be able to enjoy a normal life.
The cause of Cutis laxa is yet unknown, so a cure is out of the question for the time being. Hu and her husband thought that having a second child might reverse the accelerated skin aging process, but after giving birth to her daughter,Hu Juan’s face and neck showed no signs of improvement. Since these are the only areas affected by the disease, doctors believe they can restore some elasticity to the skin through corrective surgery, and help the woman regain her confidence. Hu Juan arrived at a clinic in Shanghai, on November 30th, where a team of doctors, including a psychologist, will try to make her life better.
However, given the rarity of Cutis laxa and the severe effects it has had on the woman’s skin, doctors have expressed uncertainty about the results of the procedure at this stage.
Nguyen Thi Phuong
Three years ago, we featured the strangely similar case of Nguyen Thi Phuong, a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman who aged dramatically following an allergic reaction to sea food. She too ended up looking like a 70-year-old in just three years time.