MANILA, Philippines — Baby-faced teen singer Charice says she prepared for her debut on the hit Fox TV show "Glee" by getting Botox and an anti-aging procedure "to look fresh on camera," but her publicist said the Botox was for muscle pain, not for cosmetic reasons.
The 18-year-old Filipino singer with a booming voice, who recently released her self-titled debut album, saw her career skyrocket after appearing on Ellen DeGeneres' and Oprah Winfrey's talk shows. She underwent a 30-minute Thermage skin-tightening procedure and Botox injections to make her "naturally round face" more narrow, celebrity cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo told ABS-CBN television.
However, Charice's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said in an e-mail Monday the Botox was "absolutely not cosmetic," and added said the treatment was for muscle pain in her jaw.
Belo did the Botox procedure in front of the cameras.
"You chew gum and it turns out to be a favorite super-exercise for these muscles, your chewing muscles. So we will show you, this muscle here it's a bit protruding," Belo said as she touched Charice's face. "It's like a ball, so we are going to Botox that in order to get it flat so she will have a cuter face ... we want to give you the apple cheek look because it's cute, right?"
Charice, in the same interview, said last week's face makeover was part of her big preparations for her appearance on the hit show's second season. She starts filming at the end of this month.
"All people will be anticipating how will Charice look? Is she good enough to pit against Rachel Berry? So of course there is tremendous pressure," Charice said. Berry is portrayed by Lea Michele, who is 23.
In an earlier TV interview, Charice said she auditioned for "Glee" in mid-June in Los Angeles and was thankful to have been accepted.
"It's really a blessing," she said, adding she was "very proud to be an Asian, very proud to be Filipino."
On the streets of Manila on Monday, some residents who follow Charice had mixed feelings about what she did with her face.
"I think it's OK for women to have procedures done, but Charice is too young. Does she need it?" said Patricia Carpio, a 21-year-old student.
For Myrna Lumanao, a 23-year-old seller in a doughnut stall, looking natural is better. "I guess she can afford to have those procedures done because she has the money, but I wish she did not change her looks."
Dr. Malcolm Roth, president of New York's Society of Plastic Surgeons and director of plastic surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, said he wasn't sure how someone so young could benefit from Botox.
"You would think that the makeup people could take care of (any wrinkles she might have) or that they could take care of it in post-production," he said.
But Roth said there might be some benefits for on-camera teens in Hollywood. "Some people do have hyperactive muscles and muscles are what create the wrinkles in certain types of expressions. ... It may be of some benefit for the camera, but I would be reticent to consider Botox for a normal 18-year-old."
Thermage is a non-surgical procedure that uses radio frequency technology, but Roth said evidence was inconclusive on whether skin can be tightened without surgery.
Born Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco and raised with her brother by a single mother, she sang in local contests and appeared on TV talent shows in the Philippines and South Korea before she got a big break on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" at age 15.
She later appeared several times on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and credits Winfrey for helping push her career.
Associated Press Medical Writer Maria Cheng in London and Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.