100 times a year is abused

She received the cream-coloured "milk shot" containing propofol 185 times between February 2011 to last December.

But top Korean actress Park Si Yeon, 34, denied that she was abusing it.

She made headlines when she was convicted in court on Monday, with fellow Korean actresses Lee Seung Yeon, 45, and Jang Mi In Ae, 29, who received 111 and 95 propofol injections respectively.

All three received eight-month prison terms - suspended for two years - and fines between 3.7 million won (S$4,300) and 5.5 million won.

The trio have pleaded not guilty, arguing that they used propofol for dermatological and plastic surgery treatments or to relieve pain caused by illness and gruelling work schedules.

But local plastic surgeons The New Paper spoke to say that they do not administer propofol in their procedures as it is not necessary. They have never encountered patients asking for the drug in Singapore.

Propofol is the anaesthetic that caused the overdose death of US pop icon Michael Jackson in 2009.


Plastic surgeon J J Chua, who runs J J Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, explained that as celebrities lead highly scrutinised and stressful lives, they sometimes have problems sleeping at night. That might explain why the Korean actresses abused propofol.

"As the drug puts them to sleep quickly, they might find themselves dependent on it when they suffer from insomnia," Dr Chua said. "Some patients can get high on it. It makes them feel good and they get addicted to it.

"Using propofol over 100 times in a year is definitely abuse as a normal person would probably use it only twice or thrice in a lifetime when they go for big surgeries."

Dr Martin Huang, director and plastic surgeon at The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, said proper protocol needs to be followed and surgeons should not attempt to administer propofol themselves.

He said: "If I need propofol or some other form of intravenous sedation for a patient, I engage an anaesthetist to deliver it because it is safer. It is very difficult to deliver, monitor and maintain adequate anaesthesia while performing plastic surgery which requires intense concentration and focus on the surgeon's part."

Local bloggers Wendy Cheng aka Xiaxue and Peggy Heng, who both underwent sponsored cosmetic surgery, said they did not receive propofol during their procedures.

Heng, 24, said: "I empathise with those actresses though. We don't know what kind of stress they go through, so we shouldn't be too quick to judge that they are drug addicts without knowing their back stories. It's quite sad."

Cheng, 29, added: "I just don't understand why these actresses would do that, especially when it... is bad for them."


Plastic surgeons say propofol is a powerful sedative used as a general anaesthetic.

It is usually not required for non-invasive treatments such as Botox, filler injections and skin treatments.

Common plastic surgery operations like double eyelid surgery or rhinoplasty are often completed under local anaesthesia.

The main side effect of propofol is over-sedation, which can result in inadequate breathing and oxygen to the brain.

Other side effects of propofol include a slight sense of euphoria as well as muscle cramps.

It reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation but may cause a person to experience hallucinations.

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