We were duped over £4,000 'miracle cure' for wrinkles
Dispute: Julie Dallaston-Morris paid £2,500 for the treatment she claims made no difference. She said: 'I was misled - they said it couldn't fail' Nicholas L Teti
Probe: Isolagen chairman and chief executive Nicholas L Teti
An American company selling "a miracle cure for wrinkles" is under investigation after hundreds of women complained the expensive procedure did not work.
An estimated 7,000 patients paid up to £4,500 for Isolagen treatment when it was launched amid a huge frenzy in Britain four years ago.
Billed as a non-surgical facelift, the treatment involves removing skin from behind the ear, growing collagen cells in a laboratory, and then re-injecting the collagen into the face to rejuvenate it and smooth wrinkles.
But plastic surgeons who administered the treatment today admitted it had been "over hyped" and that patients were dissatisfied in as many as one in five cases.
The US biotechnology firm behind Isolagen has now shut its Hammersmith-based British branch leaving scores of patients trying to get their money back.
Trading standards officers are investigating, with complaints lodged in Westminster, Haringey and Newcastle. Some of the women have formed a campaign group and are considering legal action against Isolagen or suing the clinics that administered the treatment.
But because such procedures do not require regulation in Britain - Isolagen is not deemed a medicine - the US company was able to pilot the product on British "guinea pigs".
Actress Emma Samms, best known for her role in Dynasty, was used to promote it.
Marketing executive Julia Dallaston-Morris, 43, of south London, has been in dispute with Isolagen for three years after paying £2,500 for treatments she claims made no difference.
"It was traumatic enough having 30 or 40 injections each time and then depressing to find out that I had spent all that money for something that didn't work. I was misled - they said it couldn't fail."
Julia Hall, 37, told how she spent almost £4,000 - while her partner spent a similar sum - on Isolagen but she alleges it had no effect.
"We have lost almost all our life savings. It was extortionately expensive and at the time the advertising totally duped us into going ahead with the treatment. Isolagen have scarpered and left us high and dry. We want our money back. They have run back to America with people's money.
"The Government should have legislation for this sort of thing."
Isolagen, headed by chief executive Nicholas L Teti, was unavailable for comment in the US but a posting on its British website insisted the "reason for the closure is financial and is not product or safety related".
Douglas McGeorge, President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, described Isolagen's claims that it "rejuvenated" the skin as "nonsense" and said the product was "completely oversold". He said it was no more than "an expensive biological filler", used to plump out wrinkles.
Easy for you to say! Potential investors just have read the pumping of untruths by the overzealous investors, hoping to make an easy buck, to see similarities between the missteps in Europe and the present.
The FDA approval says LaViv last for 6 months after the treatment, yet, you have pumpers -- self-proclaimed -- message board experts, over-ruling the recent FDA approval, "hyping LaViv", claiming anywhere from "7 years" to lasting a lifetime and beyond.
Plus you are all over-looking the economics of the treatment of $3600+, requiring customers to fork over huge down payments just to get started. Even millionaires will balk at this kind of "heist". I just don't see how Laviv will fit into the mix, given the economics and the historical trend in the facial aesthetic "wrinkle filler" market sector of driving prices down.
It is logical to assume that at such an expensive price of $3600, the hype, has to promise the "fountain of youth" to get folks to sign up for Laviv and, that is where the problems began in Europe and, I can see a similar situation developing now on the eve of the U.S. marketing.
It is all "over-hype for the over-priced Laviv" with a resulting huge customer dissatisfaction down the line because -- let's just face it -- there is no perfect man made product.
I think the FDA approval took care of any dispute over efficacy and the fact that the company hasn't done any marketing assures FCSC that they are taking a conservative approach this time around (perhaps a bit too conservative, IMO). If anything, the ability for the company to learn from the past mistakes is a huge economic advantage over other new cosmetic procedures coming to this huge potential market. Good luck.