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The Lifestyle Lift® “company’s attempt to generate business by duping consumers was cynical, manipulative and illegal,” New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a release. He also said the tactics violated consumer protection laws, and constituted “deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and illegal conduct,” according to the statement released Tuesday.
The Lifestyle Lift® is a commercialized version of a “mini” facelift. Most cosmetic surgeons can perform a variety of different “mini” facelift procedures. However, the Lifestyle Lift® company created a series of infomercials that encouraged patients to seek out the advertised procedure from their network of physicians. By some estimates, the Lifestyle Lift® company has made over $15 million through its marketing efforts.
A review of consumer-based websites reveals that there are many complaints and negative postings about the procedure. In order to combat these negative reviews and garner even more business, it turns out that the Lifestyle Lift® company had its employees pose as actual patients and post fake “testimonials” on a variety of websites to discuss the virtues of their highly advertised facelift procedure.
But Cumo’s office said that the Lifestyle Lift® company took it one step further. Starting in 2007, the company created several websites that masqueraded as independent views about the Lifestyle Lift® procedure.
According to Jennifer Peltz of the Associated Press (7/14/09), one such site featured a detailed “journal,” stretching from a first consultation to two months after the procedure, and included photos and an exhortation to “GO FOR IT.” Another supposed first-person account came complete with the names of the writer’s children.
In order to avoid prosecution in federal court, the Lifestyle Lift® company came to an agreement with the Attorney General’s office and will pay the state of New York $300,000 in penalties and costs.
This isn’t the first time the Lifestyle Lift® company has had a run-in with government attorneys. It turns out that a consumer-based website had many real patients posting on it about problems they were having with the Lifestyle Lift® procedure. The Lifestyle Lift® company feared negative publicity and sued the website in federal court to have the postings removed. In 2008, a federal judge in Michigan ruled in favor of the website, stating that the postings were protected by the First Amendment freedom of speech.
It is possible that the Lifestyle Lift® company may face similar investigations and penalties in other states. In addition, other suits may be filed by patients who had the procedure and feel they were misled by the deceptive advertising practices.
The American Advertising Federation has guidelines specifying that testimonials are only to be provided by individuals “who are reflecting a real and honest opinion or experience.” Of note, all testimonials on the One Hour Facelift website are from actual patients who have had surgery with Dr. Adam Summers, the developer of the SMART Facelift™, the original One Hour Threadlift Facelift.
Lifestyle Lift® is the registered trademark of Lifestyle Lift Holding, Inc. Neither Dr. Summers nor Maryland Plastic Surgery are affiliated with Lifestyle Lift Holding, Inc. The details in this article were obtained through information in the public domain and do not represent the opinion of Dr. Summers nor Maryland Plastic Surgery. Notice is given that the posting of this article is protected by the First Amendment.