Barb: I came across a story in The Star I thought was pretty interesting, and the headline asked the question: “Are Botox parties the new Tupperware parties?” The writer points out that actually last fall right around the time of the Toronto International Film Festival, she went to one such party hosted by Real Housewives of Toronto’s Ann Kaplan, who is the wife of one of our regular guests, Dr. Stephen Mulholland, one of Canada’s top cosmetic plastic surgeons. He’s the founder of SpaMedica, and he joins us on the line now. Good evening, Dr. Mulholland.
Dr. Mulholland: Good evening, Barb.
Barb: Thanks a lot for doing this. I appreciate it.
Dr. Mulholland: Absolutely.
Barb: I think it was interesting. Were you aware of this story, first of all?
Dr. Mulholland: Well, I read it today because someone at the office had pointed it out to me, and I think it brought up some very important issues that patients need to be aware of, or prospective patients, when exploring whether to do injectables or not.
Barb: Yeah, and I think that it would be something that people obviously do need to be careful about if they’re invited to a party like this, but one of the big things is qualified people have to be in charge.
Dr. Mulholland: Yeah, we hosted an event for some media that were covering TIFF. In one area of the house, I opened up a little extension of my clinic. We had trained nurses, physician present, informed consent documents discussing the pros and cons of injectables. The type of thing that, let’s say, someone who is attending TIFF might do in getting ready for a red carpet event, and there was no alcohol, so informed consent, a discussion of the risks and benefits, and then trained professionals under the auspices of a licensed physician.
Dr. Mulholland: These are the requirements in Ontario because injectables do have complications. It’s not like walking into a whole rent room, buying a dress or a top. I think they have to be, to dispense medically in a medical environment to keep it as safe as possible.
Barb: I would imagine because it seems, you know, you can just drive around and you see these storefronts where all of a sudden, you’re seeing signs for fillers and injections and Botox. You just wonder how qualified each place is to be doing that. Certainly if you get invited to some kind of party, you have to be very careful.
Dr. Mulholland: Yeah, I think it’s important. I mean, there has been sort of a commercialization and a democratization of availability. Prospective patients will have different ways they want to explore injectables or laser treatments, so not everything is in a physician’s office. In Ontario, before an injectable of Botox or soft tissue filler like Juvederm or Restyllane can be injected, a patient must meet with a licensed physician to discuss the risks and benefits. Then a delegable professional, like a nurse, can inject for that doctor, but alcohol should never be part of that decision. It should be a safe environment, where patients truly are informed about the benefits and the risks and the recovery.
Barb: Are there sort of websites, should people be reading reviews? Does some of it have to do with the price you’re being charged? Like if it’s ridiculously inexpensive, that might tell you something about where you’re planning on going.
Dr. Mulholland: Yeah, it’s buyer beware. I did a story on CTV I think last year, where patients were ordering Botox kits online, being shipped this box, and inside the box was allegedly a bottle of Botox. There was a video and an instruction manual on how to inject yourself.
Dr. Mulholland: How I found this out, this poor patient came in, half her face was paralyzed and couldn’t move. It was like that for about three, four months. There are serious risks associated with do it yourself or storefront medical procedures, particularly when it comes to injectables. Soft tissue fillers can cause blindness, blindness and death of tissue, and patients just need to be very aware that it is a medical procedure with risks, and there should be a doctor involved in the process, and a medical professional, like a licensed nurse, injecting.
Barb: How much do you think social media factors into this whole sort of idea that, you know, it’s not a big deal. Gee, I could do it myself, I’ll just order a kit online.
Dr. Mulholland: Yeah, I think because there’s been so much awareness in the past 10 years, particularly, of injectables and the rise of Instagram and Insta stars, and whatever the Kardashians or Jenners are doing seems to be what young people particularly will do, or even middle-aged people. Again, there are risks associated with the injection of these products, and it should be in an environment where you feel there has been a licensed medical professional discussing with you or delegating the act.
Barb: You know, while I’ve got you, we’ve talked about this before, and it’s always important I think to highlight the dangers of not being sure where you’re going, who is doing the procedure. The other one, and I’ll just ask you about this that we’ve talked about before, is what do they call it? It’s like the tourism plastic surgery?
Dr. Mulholland: Yeah, medical tourism, cosmetic surgery tours in where you decide, you can get it less expensively in Puerto Rico or Thailand or India or Turkey, and you get on a flight, go to a foreign country, meet a physician who may or may not be licensed or trained, and get a procedure. Sometimes, often not, it’ll work out. There are horrible complications that can occur, and you just need to be very, very careful when you’re engaging in a medical procedure that is in a jurisdiction or with a physician you can’t do the research on.
Barb: Have you had people come to you for corrective work?
Dr. Mulholland: You know, unfortunately, yes. Any physician can get a complication, but it’s one thing to get a complication by a licensed plastic surgeon in Ontario who’s trained to manage your complications, and you have Ontario health insurance plan covering those complications. It’s another to be in a foreign jurisdiction where you’re not sure of the sterility of the instruments, and you can get life-threatening illnesses as a result of your surgery.
Barb: Right, yeah. I would think though, too, you would sometimes have a case where if you feel like somebody messed up, you don’t wanna go back to that person to fix it.
Dr. Mulholland: Well that’s the issue. Anyone I’ve seen, I’ve always suggested they speak to their physician in the jurisdiction, in the country that they had it done. To a person, it’s always better well, I had this complication, I feel very unsafe or uncertain about going back, because I wasn’t convinced of the safety at the time I had it done.
Barb: It’s great stuff, and we love having you in, Dr. Stephen Mulholland. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Dr. Mulholland: Thanks, Barb.
Barb: Really appreciate it. Just be careful, do your research, ask a lot of questions. He’s one of the top ones, but he’s been around for a long time. It’s true, you do see almost like these pop-up stores in strip malls, that they’re suddenly doing Botox and fillers. That’s one of the things I think you need to watch, to not look at just doing for the sake of doing it there to save money.