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).