The thought of going from age 23 to age 73 can be pretty daunting, but could you imagine going through the physical 50 year aging process in a matter of days?
Nguyen Thi Phuong was 23 years old when she switched medications to treat an itchy allergic reaction to seafood. A mixture of drugs left her skin sagging and wrinkled in a matter of days.
Neighbors said Phuong, now 26, is unrecognizable from her former self; her voice and black hair are the sole indicators of her true age, Tuoi Tre News reports. (Scroll to watch video of Phuong.)
The exact cause of the Vietnamese woman's rapid aging still had doctors scrambling for answers, pointing at either a rare condition called lipodystrophy or a side effect of too much steroid medication.
Lipodystrophy is a "rare syndrome that 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," the Telegraph explains.
However, a recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University Hospital reveals Phuong might be suffering from mastocytosis, an incurable disorder caused by the presence of too many mast cells, the Thanh Nien News reports.
Additional tests are needed to confirm if Phuong has the disorder before she starts treatment, but doctors are optimistic about the possible results.
Treatment might be able to restore about 50 percent to 70 percent of her skin, according to Thanh Nien News.
Phuong and her husband have stayed together throughout the odd ordeal, although the couple has waited on having children.
“He still loves me like before despite the fact that I look old and ugly. With him, I feel more confident to live and work,” Phuong told the newspaper.
The phenomenon is different from progeria, an extremely rare disorder that causes children to age 10 times faster than normal. Signs of progeria include hair loss, a disproportionally large head, visible veins, stiff joints and hip dislocation, and usually occur right around a child's first birthday. That disease is caused by an excess of the protein progerin, a protein that we all have that (in lower amounts) that destroys cells to bring about the aging process.