Vein Clinics to Settle FTC Charges over
False, Deceptive Vein-Treatment Claims
FTC News Release
January 27, 1994
Vein Clinics of America, Inc., has agreed not to misrepresent the risks, recurrence rate or exclusivity of its "compression sclerotherapy" non-surgical treatment for varicose and spider veins, as part of a settlement of Federal Trade Commission charges announced today. The FTC alleged that Vein Clinics, which has offices in 13 cities in six states, made numerous false or unsubstantiated representations to market what it has called its "MicroCure Process," which involves injecting a solution into a vein, wrapping the area with bandages for several days, and placing the patient on an extensive walking regimen.Vein Clinics, with its home office in Schaumburg, IL, currently has clinics in Arcadia, Irvine and Walnut Creek, CA; Atlanta and Lawrenceville, GA; Chicago, Northbrook, Oakbrook and Woodfield, IL; Kansas City, KS; Owings Mills, MD; and Vienna, VA. According to the FTC complaint listing the allegations in the case, Vein Clinics has marketed its services through print ads, as well as promotional brochures, videos and pamphlets given to prospective patients. The FTC alleged that these materials have represented, among other things, that:
- the recurrence rate for venous disease five years after surgery is 65 percent to 85 percent, and that the recurrence rate is less than 3 percent (lower than for any other treatment) following the Vein Clinics treatment (the FTC complaint charges that, in fact, the recurrence rate following surgery for venous diseases is substantially lower than Vein Clinics claimed, and that the company cannot substantiate recurrence-rate claims for its own treatment);
- the MicroCure Process is newly-discovered and available only from Vein Clinics (the FTC also challenged these representations as false, stating in its complaint that compression sclerotherapy is regularly performed by other physicians);
- the Vein Clinics treatment does not present the risk of burning, marking or scarring the skin; and the only significant health risk of the treatment is a mild allergic reaction for one in every 1,000 patients (These are false, the FTC charged, stating that the treatment may cause ulcers—open sores—that scar the skin, as well as permanent pigmentation. The FTC also charged that the treatment may cause severe allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock.); and
- the Vein Clinics treatment presents fewer significant health risks and adverse cosmetic side-effects than other methods of treating varicose and spider veins (Vein Clinics did not have evidence to support these representations, the FTC alleged).
The proposed consent agreement to settle these allegations, announced today for public comment, would prohibit Vein Clinics from misrepresenting the rate of likely recurrence for any venous disease following treatment, or misrepresenting the newness, past availability, safety, risks or potential side-effects of any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure. Under the settlement, Vein Clinics also would be prohibited from making any of the allegedly false claims challenged in the FTC complaint, including those about the availability, exclusivity or risks, for the MicroCure Process or any substantially similar service. Finally, the settlement would require Vein Clinics to have scientific evidence to substantiate any representations it makes about the success rate, disease-recurrence rate, or the rate or nature of health risks or adverse cosmetic side effects, for any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure it markets or sells in the future.
The Commission vote to announce the complaint and proposed settlement for public comment was 5-0.
The FTC has developed a free fact sheet for consumers, titled "Cosmetic Surgery," that offers tips on how to select a doctor, suggests questions for consumers to ask their doctors before going ahead, and describes some of the risks associated with some common surgeries.
- FTC File No. 912-3147. FTC Docket No. C-3501.
This page was posted on August 27, 2006.