SINGAPORE — For about a period of about two years, Siti Palilah Ismail provided invasive facial aesthetic procedures such as Botox and filler injections to around 300 clients from a small beauty salon.
The self-employed beautician did this without a valid licence as a medical practitioner, using equipment and products bought from e-commerce site Alibaba.
On Thursday (Nov 9), the 52-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to eight weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to four counts of practising as a medical practitioner without a valid practising certificate.
Seven similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that Siti Palilah had undergone a three-month aesthetic course sometime in 2019, where she learnt how to provide invasive facial procedures.
She decided sometime in 2020 to become a self-employed beautician.
Prosecutor Andre Tan from the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that Siti rented a shop space for a small salon and advertised her services via Instagram.
Investigations revealed that from November 2020 to November 2022, she provided various invasive aesthetic procedures including skin-whitening jabs and placenta injections.
On four occasions between June and November 2021, she performed various invasive procedures such as filler injection on the lips, a Botox jab and a thread lift injection on four female clients aged 24 to 50. These became the subject of the four charges proceeded against her.
Each time, Siti would ask the customer to lie down before cleaning the person’s face with alcohol wipes.
She would then apply numbing cream on the client’s face before injecting her with the beauty product.
Each session would take around half an hour and cost between S$200 and S$800.
An expert report found that the unlicensed procedures carried out by Siti posed varying levels of risks of allergy reactions, infections, haematoma (bruises) and swelling, among others.
‘BARE MINIMUM’ TO HAVE TRAINING
Seeking a total sentence of six to nine weeks’ imprisonment, the MOH prosecutor said that the woman had run a “large scale” business for profit, adding that in providing the services in an unsterilised environment, she exposed her clients to health risks.
Mr Tan said that after the salon’s premises was inspected by MOH and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in February last year, Siti became aware that her actions were unlawful, but continued to provide a filler injection service to one client.
Seeking a non-custodial sentence or, if that is not possible, a shorter jail term of six weeks, defence lawyer Devadas Naidu disagreed with the prosecutor calling his client’s business a “large” operation, saying that it was run from a small place for which she paid only S$1,200 a month in rent.
Although Siti is not a registered medical practitioner, it was not the case that she provided the services with no training at all. Mr Naidu said that she was also able to produce the certificates that proved she had attended the beauty training.
On the filler jab on the last client, Mr Naidu said that Siti relented to do so after her client had asked her repeatedly for a “touch up” jab. He added that his client “deeply regrets” doing so.
District Judge Lim Tse Haw said that undergoing some form of training was the “bare minimum” he would have expected from an individual providing such services without a medical practitioner licence.
If an unlicensed person did so without any training at all, such an act would be deemed as “more aggravating (and) more reckless”, he added.
On the same point of training, Mr Tan said that the authorities do not know the level of expertise of the course provider and how rigorous the training was.
Therefore, there was no proper way to assess whether Siti was equipped with the necessary skills to perform the procedures properly or was able to properly handle any bad reactions that her clients may have had.
For each count of providing a medical procedure while not being a registered medical practitioner and without a valid licence, Siti could have been fined up to S$100,000 or jailed up to 12 months, or both.