British Columbia

B.C. Botox injections spark health investigations

Federal and provinical health authorities say they will take action after CBC News revealed two Vancouver-area clinics were offering Botox injections that would be administered by people not licensed to carry out the procedure.

Health Canada and B.C. authorities to step in following CBC News report

The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons is reviewing two clinics after CBC story 3:21

Federal and provincial health authorities say they will take action following a CBC News report about Botox being offered for cosmetic purposes in Metro Vancouver and injected by people who have no medical licence.

Eddie Lee, of Queen’s Park Laser Skin Care Centre, in Richmond, B.C., admitted in the report that he is not a doctor but told a CBC producer he would inject Botox in her face for a fee.

"Yes, you need to be a doctor [to inject Botox]," Lee said in a hidden-camera interview. "I'm not a doctor … so is not illegal, and is also not legal either."

Advice on Botox

  • Do not buy into Botox deals or sales.
  • Do not purchase Botox online.
  • Stay away from do-it-yourself Botox kits.
  • Check with your province's regulating body to ensure your physician is licensed.
  • Ask to see the Botox bottle and ensure it has a hologram and serial number.

Botox was also offered at Eurocharm Medical Spa in Vancouver where one staff member who is not a licensed medical doctor, Irina Kolesnikova, admitted she had injected Botox often.

"A lot, a lot," Kolesnikova said. "I have thousands of clients."

Botox, or onabotulinumtoxinA, is made from a neurotoxic protein that in large doses can cause the paralytic illness botulism. It is best known for its cosmetic uses, including its ability to counter the appearance of frown lines between the eyebrows and around the eyes, but is also used to fight chronic migraines and excessive sweating.

The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons said Wednesday it would investigate the two Botox providers named in the report.

"If there are people who are unauthorized and unlicensed providing what is a medical treatment, that is very concerning from the college’s standpoint," said deputy registrar Dr. Samantha Kelleher.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons can seek a court injunction to stop anyone found to be impersonating a doctor and injecting Botox.

Eddie Lee says even though he's not a licensed physician, he is trained to inject Botox. (CBC)

In an email to CBC News, Health Canada said it has the responsibility "for taking action against individuals or companies who contravene the Food and Drugs Act regarding health products such as Botox."

When asked what actions the department might take against the Metro Vancouver clinics named in the report, spokeswoman Leslie Meerburg said she could not go into specifics.

"Health Canada has initiated compliance verification activities to protect the health and safety of Canadians. At this time, we cannot comment on actions being taken," Meerburg said.

People who are offered such services illegally should report it, said B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond.

"If someone is practicing and calling themselves a physician and they're not, that's a very troubling concern.  So what they need to do, the first and most important thing to do, is they need to call the police."

Dr. Martin Braun of Vancouver is licensed to prescribe and inject Botox to hide wrinkles, treat migraine headaches and prevent excessive sweating, among other maladies.

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Patients are being put at risk because of poor regulation of medical spas in Canada, Braun said.

"People are running around, administering potentially toxic substances with no medical oversight, no medical education, no medical degree," said Braun.

Braun said he was curious who supplies Botox to clinics like Eddie Lee’s in Richmond.

"I'm not sure where he gets it from, again because he is not a licensed physician," Braun said.

Lee told CBC News he buys Botox online without a prescription from Turkey and Mexico.