Southern Florida Chemical Face-Peel Marketer
to Settle FTC Charges That He Made False Claims
about Risks, Pain, and Results
FTC News Release
October 22, 1992
Medical Marketing Services, Inc. and its president have agreed not to misrepresent any health care service they offer in the future, in order to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely represented the risks, pain, recovery period, and results of a chemical face-peel procedure they marketed nationwide. According to the FTC complaint detailing the charges, Medical Marketing's promotional materials contained "before" and "after" pictures purportedly depicting the difference just eight days would make. In fact, the FTC alleged, the "after" picture failed to show how a typical patient's face is likely to be quite red and swollen eight days after the procedure.
The FTC complaint and proposed settlement agreement name Medical Marketing Services, formerly located in Plantation, FL; and the firm's president and founder, Michael Walerstein, a Fort Lauderdale resident.
The respondents marketed what the FTC alleged is a chemical face-peel procedure the respondents called "endodermology." The procedure starts with the application of a chemical solution to the face to destroy the top layers of the skin. According to the FTC complaint, beginning in 1986, Medical Marketing promoted and sold both training and marketing services for the procedure to licensed physicians throughout the United States. The firm's promotional kit included advertising materials, brochures, a video tape, sample sales scripts, press releases, direct mail letters, fact sheets, and other materials. Among claims contained in these materials that the FTC cited in its complaint are:
- "…this safe and painless way of reversing the aging process."
- "Non-Surgical, safe, effective procedure performed only by trained physicians."
- "As opposed to a chemical peel, Endodermology is designed to evenly reach certain layers of the epidermis that have been affected by aging or the environment.…"
Through these and several other statements, the FTC charged, the respondents falsely represented that the peel procedure:
- is not a chemical face peel (when, in fact, it is);
- is free of the risk of serious adverse medical complications (when it does entail such risks);
- involves little or no pain or discomfort (when it involves significant pain or discomfort for many people);
- involves a recovery period of eight days (when it is typically longer);
- eliminates facial folds (when it does not); and
- is accepted or recognized by the American Medical Association (when it is not).
The FTC also charged that it was deceptive for the respondents to represent that the procedure is unqualifiedly safe without disclosing that it entails serious adverse complications.
The proposed consent agreement settling these charges, announced today for public comment, would prohibit Medical Marketing and Walerstein from making any of the allegedly false claims cited above for any peel procedure or other health care service, subject to civil penalties. This prohibition would apply to any advertising, promotional, sales or marketing assistance activities the respondents provide for the covered procedures and services, as well as to any training they offer in connection with the procedures or services.
In addition, the proposed consent agreement would prohibit misrepresentations as to: the degree of risk; level of pain; recovery period; results; the likely condition of the typical patient's skin at a specified point in time after the surgery; any entity's approval or endorsement of the peel procedure or health care service the respondents offer; or any other material fact relating to such procedures or services, or their results.
Finally, the agreement would require consumer disclosures to be made when the respondents make certain representations, and would mandate that the disclosures be clear, prominent and in close proximity to the representation. First, if the respondents choose to make any representation about the safety of any peel procedure or other health care service that entails serious adverse risks, they would have to disclose the fact that it entails adverse risks. And if the respondents make any representation about the risks or benefits of any peel procedure, they would be required to disclose that it is a chemical face peel.
- FTC File No. 892-3112. FTC Docket No. C-3409.
This page was posted on August 27, 2006.