It isn’t exactly Silence of the Lambs, but Laurel does feel fortunate that she got out of a Salem doctor’s office safe and sound. The doctor, Jerome Lentini, has been accused of using unapproved drugs for Botox treatments.
When Laurel saw the front page story about Lentini in the Salem Statesman-Journal yesterday, she said “I knew he was a sleaze!” Laurel had gone to see him around Christmas not out of an interest in Botox, but because he was listed as an “anti-aging” doctor (I note he now has been removed from the listing, as he should be; the preceding link is a historic Google cache).
Lentini supposedly specialized in bio-identical female hormones, a subject that Laurel knows a lot about since she has been grappling with menopause for quite a few years. Yet she went to her first (and thankfully, only) visit with some qualms, since the parking lot of Lentini’s office in a strip mall on Commercial Street featured cheesy folding signs that said something like “Botox: $129.”
Laurel wasn’t reassured when Lentini had to leave the exam room three times during her consultation, apparently to look something up in a reference book. She got the impression that she knew more about bio-identical hormones than he did, which I’m sure is true. “He didn’t seem very knowledgeable,” reported my source.
Apparently sensing that Laurel had lost faith in his hormone expertise, Lentini asked, “Are you interested in anything else?” She inquired about the price of Botox and how long the injections lasted. Lentini urged her to get Botox right then. Fortunately, she passed on the offer.
Laurel asked Lentini about what kind of Botox he used, since she had read about people in Florida getting botulism from raw, unapproved toxin. He assured her that it was FDA approved, but the FBI has accused him of using unapproved toxin for as many as 1,000 patients at his clinics in Salem and Tigard.
His last stab at sucking some money out of Laurel came when he suggested lip injections and showed her some before and after photos of a woman he had treated that day. She had to admit that the woman’s lips looked, well, lippier, but by this time she didn’t have any confidence in Lentini. “He didn’t have a good demeanor,” she told me. “He had a puffy face and looked like an alcoholic.”
We have watched a lot of Nip/Tuck episodes, the TV show about two Florida plastic surgeons. So we know how a plastic surgeon’s office should appear (cool), what the doctor should look like (handsome), and the first words he utters to a new patient (“Tell me what you don’t like about yourself"). Lentini didn’t pass any of these criteria.
We all want to look and feel younger, but if that’s the goal, getting botulism from a Botox bungler would be a decided step in the wrong direction. The lesson here is to check out a doctor’s credentials before you let him or her do anything to you, and to trust your gut feeling when you feel that something isn’t right about the treatment being suggested.