Dr. Zeyi Chen

Skin Therapy Center

West Ashley. 5 Daniel St. 571-1047

“I won’t retire until I can’t do anything,” says the 70-year-old Dr. Zeyi Chen. “Work is my hobby. It makes me relax and makes me happy.”

Dr. Chen’s work ethic brought him from the tiny village of Guanjiachun, China, to a visiting professorship at MUSC before opening his thriving Skin Therapy Center in West Ashley.

“I grew up in a small village with nothing — no running water, no electricity, no phones, no bicycles or cars, no nothing. We walked 30 minutes for necessities,” says Chen.

At age 14, Chen left his village to work the night shift in a sock factory owned by his uncle, saving enough to attend school in Shanghai. After years of studying feverishly, he graduated with a medical degree in 1963 and quickly climbed the ranks to become Chairman of the Dermatological department at Shanghai Medical University.

In 1979, he was invited with two other doctors to travel to Europe and the U.S. “I went to Paris because I spoke better French than English,” says Chen. “I was one of the first doctors from China to be sent to the West.”

Chen accepted a professorship at MUSC in 1981, where he remained until 1994, studying in the library until midnight every evening. “Nobody asked me to do that, but I work as hard as anyone,” says Chen.

His experience and education in China make Chen an authority on alternative health. “A lot of my patients have used medication for a long time, like sleeping pills, but these drugs have so many side effects,” says Chen. His acupuncture treatments have enabled many people to decrease or withdraw from medications by emphasizing an integrated approach that treats the whole body.

“Most people come here for depression, back pain, neck pain, headaches, and migraines,” says Chen. “I don’t give them prescriptions or surgery. Acupuncture encourages the body to heal itself.”

The wooden interior of Dr. Chen’s cozy office is decorated with poinsettias, Chinese vases, and bamboo along the walls. Like his treatment, it’s a relaxing alternative to the sometimes stuffy and stressful visits to the modern doctor.

“I truly believe the alternative way to health is more effective, natural, and safe, and often less expensive,” says Chen. “When you take care of yourself you see the burden can be better managed, and everything can be better.”

Many Westerners don’t acknowledge a “bioenergetic system” in their body, but more and more people are increasingly sold on the power of a few needles in the hands of an expert.