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Editorials, skin care, Weird and wonderful

Dr. Oz proves he is the Wizard of Woo in less than 60 seconds

I just had cable installed this week. The nice guy from Comcast flipped on the TV to prove it was working and the show that magically popped up was Dr. Oz.

I know. Like a red cape for a bull.

It was as if the angels (or demons, depending on your perspective) had arranged this prophetic moment, because the good (or now I’m thinking the perhaps-not-as-well-trained-as-he-likes-to-intimate) Dr. Oz made not one, but two medical gaffs involving pain medicine in less than 60 seconds.

The segment was 1-Minute Skin Miracles with products one can find around the home (clearly the job for a cardiac surgeon). First up, a woman who wants to know if she can find a way to make plucking her eyebrows less painful.

The great and powerful Dr. Oz tells her the trick to pain-free shapely brows is to smear “gum numbing gel” prior to plucking and then wait 60 seconds. He had a timer on the screen, so that’s how I know he made Supreme Douchebag in under a minute.

First sin: telling people to use a benzocaine containing product on the eyebrows. My dear, and sadly misinformed, Wizard. While you are correct that benzocaine is indeed a local anesthetic (and about the only thing you got right in those 60 seconds), I always tell people to stay away from benzocaine products because benzocaine is an ester anesthetic, meaning it is more likely to cause allergic reactions. I see plenty of terrible allergic reactions on the vulva from women who use benzocaine containing intimate products, like Vagisil. The best topical anesthetic, especially for repetitive use, is lidocaine or xylocaine because they are amide anesthetics and not known for allergic reactions.

By the way Mehmet, I have to question your common sense even tackling to topic of painful eyebrow plucking. Sure, you can put local anesthetic above the eyebrow, but THAT IS NOT WHERE YOUR ESTHETICIAN WANTS YOU TO PLUCK! If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times….”Stay below the brow, young padawan.” Smearing a local anesthetic below the brow is probably not advisable as it could make, I don’t know, EYE CONTACT!

But it was the inane babbling to fill up the rest of the 60 seconds that really got me going. Mehmet, clearly not the king of the small talk, started rambling on about how estrogen reduces pain for women…you know, that’s why women can withstand the pain of childbirth…

Does no one fucking fact check this show?

The role of estrogen is pain is very complex. For example, the incidence of chronic pain in women starts to outstrip men at puberty (when we start making estrogen) and women are more likely to have chronic pain until menopause, when the hormone levels drop and then the incidence of chronic pain is similar to men. So women, being more vulnerable to chronic pain when they have more estrogen doesn’t exactly fit with the Wizard’s proclamation. To give you an idea of the complexities, for some women estrogen can trigger migraines, and for others the withdrawal of estrogen triggers migraines. While some animal models suggest estradiol has an anti-nocioceptive effect (reduces pain) there is also evidence to suggest that supra-physiologic (über high) levels of estrogen enhance pain sensitivity. In other words, the role of sex hormones in pain has not been fully elucidated and it is most likely that multiple mechanisms such as hormones, genetic influences, cultural influences, and psychological factors all play a role in the sex differences in the pain experience. To say estrogen allows women to withstand the pain is childbirth is simply wrong and an insult to the researchers who have spent their lives trying to tease out the nuances of sex hormones and pain.

So there you have it. In less than 60 seconds Dr. Oz wants you to put the most allergenic local anesthetic on your eyebrows, pluck above the brow line, risk getting said allergenic topical anesthetic in your eye, and demonstrates that he knows less about estrogen than Wikipedia.

And thus I anoint him Wizard of Woo.

And my tip for painless brows? Well, ripping out hair by the follicles is no cake walk. I get mine waxed. It’s faster and a good esthetician immediately places her hand firmly on the freshly waxed skin stimulating nerves that can actually reduce pain (it’s called the gate theory). I know some people are fans of eyebrow threading, but there are reports of that method transmitting warts to the eyebrows

If you want to view the shindig at the Emerald City yourself, click the link below (I couldn’t find a way to embed the video directly).

1-Minute Skin Miracles


9 thoughts on “Dr. Oz proves he is the Wizard of Woo in less than 60 seconds

  1. The guy sounds like a complete and utter tosspot.

    In any case, if plucking your eyebrows is too painful, maybe you’re overdoing it? So mant young girls overpluck their eyebrows, and then find to their dismay that it stops growing back after a while.

    Posted by anarchic teapot | October 9, 2011, 2:17 pm
  2. Aloha Dr. Jen Gunter,
    Always good to have a second opinion on medical or non medical procedures. A trick I used to use was a good old fashion ice cube and would numb my brow area then pluck. What I really appreciated reading was the addition about how Estrogen levels can have an affect on migraines. I am 57 years old and have suffered with migraines for years-they got worse the older I got. Of course no one has ever mentioned to me the role of estrogen-friend or enemy? I am not on any HRT since I had a hysterectomy at the age of 43 and breast cancer runs in my family. Is there anything you can do at my age to test for estrogen or lack of estrogen to see why I get so many migraines?

    Oh, I have been having my esthetician wax my brows for years-truthfully when done properly and pressure applied as you mentioned works beautifully. I/we have never used a numbing cream. Poor Dr Oz probably should have checked with his female staff on this one-haha
    Much Aloha,

    Posted by Devra Wathen | October 9, 2011, 2:40 pm
  3. I don’t generally bother with pain relief for eyebrow plucking, except maybe holding the skin taut. Ripping out hair is going to hurt. I do try to avoid doing it a few days before or the first few days of a period, because it seems more painful then. Not sure if that’s an urban myth or not, though, I could just be nocebo-ing myself.

    And wow, what an idiot “Dr.” Oz is.

    Posted by QoB | October 9, 2011, 3:28 pm
  4. Maybe Dr OZ should stuck with cardiac surgery. I am hoping that his knowledge of that was at least better than his knowledge of the rest of the medical field. I cringe every time I hear a patient tell me, “I saw Dr Oz, and he said . . . ” Congrats Oprah, you managed to create a bigger nuisance to medicine than you ever were and attached to that a medical degree.

    Posted by Melissa Gastorf | October 9, 2011, 5:52 pm
  5. Here’s a quote you can re-use:

    “Good Television does not make for Good Medicine”

    As usual, similar to the Cosmo articles.. it’s all about what will sell papers. Truth? Fact? Those are inconvenient words for a short-term media delivery cycle. Better to churn out a few infographics than bore people with real information, right?

    Thank you for posting this.

    Posted by Daniel Lowe (@Daniel_Dragon) | October 9, 2011, 8:31 pm
  6. dr oz is a tool. and so is his friend dr phil. that is all. 🙂

    Posted by debbie ierano | October 11, 2011, 11:54 am
  7. . . . hot washcloth? Isn’t that the standard recommendation for reducing pain for eyebrow plucking?

    Posted by perica1981 | October 12, 2011, 2:21 am
  8. I have a low pain threshold and the latest person who suffered from it was the nice young dentist substituting my nice old dentist who knows better than to have me howling and fighting back during routine poking around. And my eyebrow seems to start just above the eyelashes… so I generously use lidocain cream. I’m not sure a doc would approve but I have brains enough to apply it carefully in the hair, not in the eyes. I got it from my dermatologist for a facial application – I have cystic acne and although the doc wasn’t really enthused when I insisted that I want to deal with my spots and boils myself because I hate beauticians, I got instructions, disinfection and said lidocain. I wouldn’t guess that there are local anaesthetics that cause skin reactions – who the hell would distribute them? But… the world is full of wonders.

    Posted by LiisaW | February 15, 2012, 1:07 pm
  9. My daughter (31) and I (59) both have had hysterectomies because of severe endometriosis. Both of us had several laparoscopies to try to stop it first. Please go to the Endometriosis Association; there is lots of info about estrogen and pain there. In the first place, endometriosis (for those who are not M.D.s: lining of the uterus that goes where it shouldn’t, usually in the abdomen on organs such as bowel, bladder, outside of reproductive organs, or deeply invading organs) MAKES estrogen. And that also has something to do with prostoglandans, which is a chemical also produced commonly by endometriosis, and which is a pretty direct chemical cause of pain. After surgery, both my daughter and I have had a return of pain, sometimes only after a few months. To say how much endometriosis hurts: one year I had to have my last wisdom tooth out. The next day I went to my boss’s wedding, because my jaw hurt LESS than my abdomen did on a daily basis. My daughter can barely stand up straight. I’m glad I didn’t see that miracle minute for Dr. Oz, because my TV might have suffered damage. I don’t think he should practice cardiology either (after all “women” don’t get heart disease either according to uninformed old-fashioned docs), and he certainly should not be on TV. Isn’t there an ethical committee on the TV station and the FCC that should be informed that this incorrect medical information is being delivered as fact? P.S.: I don’t bother plucking eyebrows, only other facial hair, and again, it doesn’t hurt at all compared to chronic abdominal pain. My daughter plucks eyebrows, and feels the same way. But a nice trip to the spa for a nice manicure, pedicure, and facial sometimes gives her a little lift.

    Posted by Elizabeth | June 19, 2012, 9:20 pm

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