Fraud of any kind is never a good thing, especially when it taints a whole community.
This past month, Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois filed a lawsuit against the Chicago area Nu U spas. This could actually be a very good thing as they had allegedly been practicing medical aesthetics without a physician.
They were presumably giving very “hard sells” to their clients by having them sign documents committing them to several treatments at thousands of dollars per contract.
I had heard a few times from patients coming to my office that they had seen an aesthetician at a NU U spa claiming she was going to be delivering the treatments herself. And, they reported feeling pressured into signing paperwork committing them to many treatments. So, I was very glad to hear that they were finally being called on suspicious behavior. However, I was very concerned to read the press release out of Madigan’s office. It implied that lipodissolve itself was dangerous and illegal. They stated that the treatment was not FDA approved.
While technically, this is true, it is very misleading. The FDA has no jurisdiction over procedures, only drugs and medical devices.
It is true that phosphatidyl choline (lecithin) and deoxycholate (bile salts) are not FDA approved drugs. They are both naturally occurring and not patentable, just like a vitamin b 12 injection. It would be illegal to market them to the public as drugs.
Physicians that are trained and certified in lipodissolve perform the procedure with the aforementioned agents. This is not illegal. Nor is it dangerous. There has never been a single death, hospitalization or a serious side effect from the procedure being performed by a physician. There has a reported case of uneven fat removal under the eyes by a physician who was not trained in the procedure.
That is an amazing record. Compare that to allergy shots, which cause death by anaphylactic reaction in a handful of patients each year in the US, or to liposuction, that has the highest death rate among elective procedures.
Physicians in the plastic surgery department at UCLA performed an extensive study of outcomes and side effects of lipodissolve. The results and conclusions were overwhelmingly positive.
Both American Academies of Plastic Surgeons, view lipodissolve as an economic threat. Liposuction bookings have fallen drastically since news surfaced that liposuction has the highest death rate of any elective procedure. Lipodissolve’s emergence as a safer, less expensive alternative to liposuction has made many plastic surgeons nervous.
In reality, many plastic surgery offices are now offering lipodissolve, and you can bet that the surgeons have the nurses performing the procedure, as it is not worth the surgeon’s time in dollars.