What happens at a Botox party? Booze, fillers and drugs

Photo / 123RF
Photo / 123RF

It's Friday night and Serena, 27, has invited eight of her friends around to her Melbourne apartment for a drink.

At 6pm, they pop a bottle of champagne. At 7pm, they light up a joint. At 8pm, a doctor and a nurse knock on her door and over the next hour, Serena and her friends are injected with Botox and fillers in her bedroom. The products have been purchased online from overseas providers. Some of these women have been "doing" Botulinum toxin, sold in Australia as Botox, Dysport or Xeomin, for a decade, while others are first timers.

They all sign a legal waiver absolving the doctor and nurse of responsibility if anything goes wrong.

The alcohol means inhibitions are lost. "Beforehand, the girls will say 'I'm just going to get a tiny bit between my eyebrows' or 'I'm only spending $50'," Serena said. "By the end of the night they'd been Botoxed all over their faces."

Normally Botox elicits just a pin prick of blood post-injection, but alcohol thins the blood and tonight it drips from their faces constantly. Tomorrow their faces will be bruised.

"The poor doctor is wiping and wiping, trying not to freak out the person in the chair," Serena said.

The whole thing is over by 9pm. It takes about a week before any real results will be visible, but the placebo has already taken effect.

"As soon as the doctor and nurse left, we were straight in the bathroom doing our hair and makeup, taking selfies and posting them on Facebook. The next day we all woke up with a hangover, looked at Facebook and said, 'What the hell did we do last night?'"

Botox parties are fast becoming the cheap, easy and guilt-free way for women, and yes, some men, to get their cosmetic surgery fix without having to step foot into a clinic.

"You don't have to book an appointment. It's in your own home, it's more relaxed. You can lay down on the couch or your bed if you're scared of needles. It takes the fear out of the procedure," said Melissa*, 40, from Melbourne, who threw a Botox party last month.

Melissa found her "Botox nurse" through the clinic where she normally receives injections. She came to her house armed with products obtained legally in Australia.

You need a script from a GP before she will inject you. If you don't have one, she will Skype with a GP in India who will consult the patient and issue a prescription.

"It's quite good entertainment," said Melissa. "You have a giggle about who's going to go first, then you all stand around and 'ooh' and 'ahh' while they're injected. All this time you're drinking and having a great time.

"Obviously the Botox doesn't immediately take effect but everyone is giving their two cents worth saying 'Oh you look great!' or 'You should get more here and here!'."

Even the male partners got involved.

"The wives are having it done and then the husband comes down and everyone says 'Oh, you should have some' and he'd say 'OK'. They start to see the results and they start to get more into it."

Understandably, cosmetic and plastic surgeons are alarmed at the potential risks.

"When I went back to my clinic my surgeon was scathing about Botox parties," said Melissa.

"She hated that I had hosted one and said 'They're just not on', because of the backyard environment and the alcohol. I guess doctors also don't like them because it takes away potential work for them," she said.

Serena says the doctor and nurse who worked at her party were keen to keep their side business under wraps.

"They seem quite ashamed about it," she said. "They were like 'Don't post anything on Facebook'. I actually think in their medical industry they would be seen as the scum of the earth."

Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia spokeswoman Dr Mary Dingley says Botox parties are a "ridiculous idea".

"You're getting a shonky person doing something shonky in a shonky place," Dr Dingley said.

She said there were concerns about the quality of the product, the person performing the procedure and the environment.

"They may be getting inappropriate medications from dodgy sources online or overseas. It may not be the genuine article as it says on the label. It may be salt water, or another medication entirely," Dr Dingley said.

"The needle may not be sterile or it could be a second or third-used needle. They could have used those syringes on someone with a blood borne disease.

"The other thing with injections, is if they're not placed in the appropriate area there can be huge consequences. If it's injected into an artery, it could clog that area and you could end up with dead skin or potentially blindness."

A patient's inability to give informed consent is a major problem, said Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons Vice President Dr Gazi Hussain.

"Someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not in a position to be making informed decisions about medical procedures," Dr Hussain said.

"We've heard from people who have not had the proper consent process waking up and regretting it."

He said buying Botox or fillers off the internet means you don't know what you're getting.

"In terms of purity it's difficult to know exactly what's in it. It's possible to inject too large a dose and overdose, if you're not sure of the true strength.

"There are always risks with infection and potential allergic reactions. You don't know what it is you're actually getting if you're getting this off the internet," he said.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons

- news.com.au

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