Botox treatments under spotlight amid MOH, police probe

This article is more than 12 months old

Doctors who prescribe Botox say it is common practice to spell out possible side effects and risks before administering it. They also say they assess patients to see if it is suitable for them.

The issue of Botox treatments has come under the spotlight after a 32-year-old property agent, Ms Lau Li Ting, fell into a coma following treatment at a clinic on March 8. She died five days later.

The clinic is now being investigated by the police as well as the Ministry of Health (MOH).

An MOH spokesman said: "MOH has also received a complaint regarding this case and we are currently investigating.

"All clinics are licensed under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act (PHMCA). If there are any breaches to the PHMCA, MOH will take appropriate actions against the licensee, which could include prosecution, suspension or revocation of the licence, or a composition fine. Should there be professional conduct issues, MOH may refer the healthcare professional to the relevant professional boards for disciplinary actions."

Botox is usually used in cosmetic treatment to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or crow's feet. It can also be used to help the face and jaw to look slimmer. It works by causing muscles to be weaker and contract less, so they may grow smaller in time.

Dr Chua Jun Jin, a plastic surgeon at Mount Elizabeth medical centre, said: "Botox has never caused any death if it has been used for cosmetic enhancement. It involves injecting very small doses into or below the skin that do not have prolonged side effects."

He added that doctors steered clear of Botox for patients with certain conditions. These include pregnant women, patients undergoing chemotherapy and those who are taking certain types of antibiotics.

Dr Chua Cheng Yu, an aesthetic doctor at Veritas Medical Aesthetics clinic, said that many of the side effects of Botox in cosmetic treatment are temporary.

He said: "Common risks include pain from the injection. It can also result in the unintended relaxation of muscles so it can cause weakness in the area, but all these side effects are temporary because the dose is so small."

Dr Chua from Mount Elizabeth agreed that the first step is always consultation with a patient.

"We see if the patient is suitable, wants it and will benefit from it. We then discuss side effects and risk."

Explaining the procedure, he said it begins with the application of numbing cream to an area. The cream usually has no side effects though some patients might experience redness as well as itchiness. A Botox jab follows and the patient will see results in three to five days. A Botox treatment lasts around three to six months.