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Load of Botox Cosmetic clinic giving patients letters so they can pass 5km Covid-19 checkpoints

Clinic gives letters so its patients can pass 5km checkpoints

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Eugene Masterson with his letter for Sculpture Clinic on Sandycove Road.

Eugene Masterson with his letter for Sculpture Clinic on Sandycove Road.

Eugene Masterson with his letter for Sculpture Clinic on Sandycove Road.

A chain of clinics offering cosmetic treatments is giving patients letters which allow them pass Garda checkpoints if they are travelling more than 5km from home for Botox.

It emerged this week that a cancer patient has been turned down for reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy, as it is deemed by health authorities to be "non-essential".

But image-conscious women and men are flocking to clinics to get Botox, lip fillers and other treatments.

Three months ago the Sunday World revealed a loophole in the law which allows aesthetic clinics to legally operate, as they claim to be carrying out "necessary medical procedures" with "injectables".

Our revelation was then raised in the Dáil by Social Democrats leader Róisín Shortall, and featured for two days in a row on Joe Duffy's Liveline show on RTÉ Radio 1.

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Our reporter travelled from the northside of Dublin to Sandycove on the southside.

Our reporter travelled from the northside of Dublin to Sandycove on the southside.

Our reporter travelled from the northside of Dublin to Sandycove on the southside.

This week, one of our reporters booked a consultation at Sculpture Clinic to be given instructions about getting Botox for the first time.

He was also advised that a letter would be given to him which would enable him to travel anywhere in the country to one of their clinics for an appointment.

Sculpture Clinics are located in Dublin, Cork and Tipperary and primarily offer Botox , an injectable muscle relaxant.

In initial enquiries our reporter enquired about Botox and lip fillers.

He was sent the following email: "As requested the price of lip enhancement is €300 with our current offer, and three areas of anti-wrinkle is €247 (normal value €350). You will find a full list of our services on our website sculptureclinic.ie."

Among its other 'February specials' on offer is IV Therapy, which is vitamin C, B and mineral boost infusion (€190).

Its regular price list includes derma fillers, skin, eye and neck treatments, as well as procedures for hair thinning, teeth grinding, excessive sweating, and non-surgical rhinoplasty.

Our reporter booked a first-time consultation appointment, which would last 15 minutes and cost €50. Further emails were sent to confirm and remind him about the appointment.

Our reporter called Sculpture Clinic to say he had heard there was a letter the clinic gave to clients which allows them to travel outside their 5km zone to whichever clinic they choose.

He was told that was correct information and he could be furnished with a letter if he wished.

A letter was then emailed to him which read: "I would like to inform you that you have booked your appointment with Dr Nema on Saturday February 6 at 3.30pm at our Dublin clinic. Kindly inform us if you are unavailable on your appointment date booked by us or want to cancel or reschedule. Looking forward to seeing you."

On enquiring with a follow-up call if this letter was sufficient for the gardaí, the receptionist replied: "That's the one we give to our clients, they produce the letter at any checkpoints and there has been no issues."

Our reporter made his way on a 15km journey from the northside of the capital to the southside suburb of Sandycove, where the Dublin branch of Sculpture Clinic is located, although he did not encounter a checkpoint on his journey.

On arrival at the clinic's modern foyer we were greeted by a friendly receptionist who asked to take our reporter's temperature and double checked to make sure he was not in contact with anyone who showed symptoms of coronavirus. He was told the doctor was running late and to take a seat.

A glamorous female client sauntered through the lobby and was told to "come back in two weeks for your next appointment".

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Dr George Nema

Dr George Nema

Dr George Nema

Our reporter met with Dr George Nema, who discussed Botox with him.

The doctor asked our reporter to remove his mask so he could look at his lips when our reporter asked about the possibility of getting fillers there.

"It's not just women who get lip augmentation, but a lot of men also," he informed him. "Loads of men come here for this, but mostly women."

Our reporter asked if he could settle the bill with the receptionist after his consultation, which lasted about 10 minutes, but when he tried to pay the doctor came out of his surgery and after whispering to the receptionist, informed him with a smile: "That is complimentary."

The clinic's website reveals Dr Nema grew up in Philadelphia and has medical qualifications from universities both in America and in Ireland.

Social Democrats leader Róisín Shortall, who is also her party's health spokesperson, was incensed at our revelations .

"It is really unbelievable that there are still people attending Botox clinics when the vast majority of these treatments are cosmetic and non-essential," she stormed.

"Meanwhile, there are reports that reconstructive surgeries following mastectomies have been put on pause. What does it say about the strategy behind current restrictions, where someone can get a cosmetic treatment but not reconstruction following a life- altering surgery? There needs to be tighter monitoring with deliberate consideration behind what is and is not allowable."

In a statement to the Sunday World, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: "I understand that the administration of essential medical treatments is allowed for under Level 5 and that Botox is used as a treatment in a number of medical conditions. I do not believe that consultations for its use as a cosmetic treatment are in any way appropriate at this time and I will liaise with the Department of the Taoiseach in relation to the definition of essential services.

"In the meantime I would suggest that those engaging in practices that do not reflect the spirit of staying at home except for essential reasons should stop."

He said the vast, vast majority of people are doing what is asked of them. The Sunday World asked Sculpture Clinic for a comment but had not received a reply at the time of going to press.

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