An article in the Wall Street Journal on March 2, 2015 began with the sentence, “Lifestyle Lift, a nationwide chain of cosmetic surgery centers, abruptly shut down the majority of its business Monday and said it is considering filing for bankruptcy.” Apparently various locations around the country have responded differently with some continuing to only see their existing post op patients, some closing their doors altogether, some seeking some type of reorganization to stay open, etc. Because some patients in our area have asked us in the past about their services we tried to get information today from the LifestyleLift.com website (“under renovation”) and called the phone number for the Kansas City location to find out their status (no answer ).
I have never been a fan of cosmetic surgery franchises. It wasn’t too many years ago that many patients in Kansas City and elsewhere were lured by the promise of quick, guaranteed results for fat reduction without surgery to their local Lipodissolve location. With a barrage of marketing and aggressive sales techniques Lipodissolve grew rapidly but then abruptly closed as the number of disappointed patients mounted. Patients were left with no clear place to turn for help and many were unable to recover the refunds and deposits they were due. It appears many Lifestyle Lift patients may be in the same situation.
I won’t make any judgements here on the surgical outcomes of the patients cared for in these offices. I’m sure there are some patients with great outcomes, some with poor ones, and everything in between. One can easily go to various online review sites and find these stories and photographs. What was most troubling to me was their marketing created the expectation there was some magical procedure that you could only get at a Lifestyle Lift franchise that would completely change the way you look with almost no pain, recovery time, or risk. Those of us with years of experience in plastic surgery knew this simply wasn’t the case and creating these kind of false expectations nearly always results in disappointment. In my training at Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt the surgeons I worked with taught me to promise little but deliver a lot. It appeared the Lifestyle Lift marketers were doing just the opposite
While I could take pleasure in seeing the local Lifestyle Lift franchise close and those annoying ads finally disappear from my television, I don’t. I feel bad for the patients who were caught in the middle of this abrupt closing, having potentially lost money or finding their local office closed when they returned for a follow up visit after their surgery. I feel bad for the physicians who chose to work for the company as I’m sure there were many who were fine surgeons that genuinely cared for their patients and wanted to just operate, leaving the marketing and financial side to someone else. And I feel bad for the employees at these locations who are now suddenly without a job or paycheck.
There’s a lesson to be learned from this to all patients considering cosmetic surgery. Beware of slick marketing, high pressure sales techniques, and anyone offering a “revolutionary” procedure that promises to be far better than anything done before. Beware of franchise operations, which may be more beholden to stockholders than their patients and subject to the whims of the financial world. Chose a surgeon with experience, credentials, and a reputation for quality, not a franchise location with great ads. Franchises and chains work well in the world of fast food, but not so well for surgery.
Finally, we would be glad to see patients who have been to a Lifestyle Lift office and need some assistance or just advice regarding their post op care. No judgement, no “I told you so”- let’s admit it, those ads and other marketing were pretty effective! We’ll be glad to help out any way we can.