True Stories Of The Lifestyle Lift
Posted: 2:51 pm EST November 17, 2008
Updated: 9:10 pm EDT April 6, 2009
ATLANTA -- You may have seen commercials advertising “a medically proven way to erase years.”
The company and the procedure are called the “Lifestyle Lift” which offers what they call a “minimally intrusive facelift procedure.”“All of this was supposed to be gone. These jowls here, this here. That was supposed to be gone,” said Rita Tew.
Tew is 61 and newly widowed. She hoped the procedure would address her “turkey neck” and jowls, helping her get back on the dating scene.“Since my husband died, I was hoping to look a little younger to attract guys,” said Tew. “I kept seeing the commercials on TV for the Lifestyle Lift.”
During the course of our investigation, we spoke to several women, all of whom say they feel betrayed, disappointed, and anxious over the broken promises . “I don’t think I got $3,800 worth,” said Sherry Stone.“I feel like it was a hack job,” said Carol.
“It is like a toothache that never goes away,” said Chrystal Eckes.What is the Lifestyle Lift and who is the brains behind the multimillion dollar business?
The lifestyle lift literature and their website say Dr. David M. Kent developed the Lifestyle Lift in 2001.They say it’s a “minor one-hour procedure with major results designed exclusively to improve jowls, frown lines, wrinkles, loose neck, and facial skin.” They say “it requires no dangerous general anesthetic” and you can “return to work quickly compared to a traditional procedure.”
They boast locations across the nation – in 42 cities and 22 states. Georgia is among them.Tew went to the one Georgia location in Atlanta.
“This lady named ***. Oh she was a talker! She put me in a room. She showed me all this film. Montel Williams; they were on his show. They’d been on ABC, NBC, CBS, all of ‘em. I thought that’s encouraging. They must be pretty reputable,” said Tew.Tew said they fit her in for her operation the next morning. She said she met her doctor for the very first time just 15 minutes prior to her surgery. It’s a day she’ll never forget. “They cut me up. They wrapped me up and they put me in this little room with a bunch of other people that had been cut up,” said Tew. “All of a sudden this attendant or nurse comes out the door and says you’re through now. That door over there is the exit. About half way home I’m thinking, ‘You know they never told me when to come back for a checkup. When am I going to get my stitches out.’ They never told me anything.
“I was in a lot of pain. I don’t remember if it was a week or two after that I called Dr. *** and I said, ‘Look do I need to go to the emergency room?’ I said ‘I’m so swollen. I feel like I’m going to pop.’ He says ‘Oh no,no,no. Come into my office in the morning.’ So I went into his office and he took a needle and injected and pulled out fluid,” said Tew.Eckes also went to the Atlanta office to fix an overgrowth of fatty tissue on her eyelids. She says she got talked into a lot more; a neck lift similar to Tew’s.
“I got two uneven eyes. This cut goes down and out the other cut goes straight across,” said Eckes.While Eckes says her procedure left her in excruciating pain, Tew says she was left back at square one.
“After the swelling went down I noticed I had the turkey neck still,” said Tew. “And I said, ‘What about these jowls. I still have jowls’ and he said ‘there is nothing we can do for that.’ If he couldn’t fix this why didn’t he tell me before I paid him.”Remember those ads we showed you? There are examples after examples of people having their jowl problems fixed. On the Lifestyle Lift website, they say themselves, “The Lifestyle Lift® designed specifically to tighten jowls and neck.”
Lack of results isn’t the only problem Tew said she had.“And I told him, ‘No one has called me and told me to get these stitches out, and this has been about a month.’ He says ‘Oh don’t worry about those.’ He looked kind of surprised. He says ‘Oh, they’re dissolvable. You don’t have to worry about them anyway. That’s why no one mentioned it to you.’ But he says ‘We’re going to get my nurse in here and pull them out’ and I thought, ‘Ok, they’re dissolvable, but you’re going to get your nurse to pull them out,’” said Tew. She came in and pulled them out and she acted like she has never pulled out stitches before.
“Well she didn’t get them all out. About two or three weeks later I still had them and I was pulling them out. I pulled one out that’s that long. And it’s been under the skin that long, and it’s still as firm as it was the day it was put in. There’s nothing dissolvable about those stitches.” said Tew.Eckes says her daughter spotted her stitches two weeks later.
“Mama – what are those horrible black things behind your ear? She pulled on it and it was like uhhh!” said Eckes.“I was really expecting something like this” said Tew while looking at the Lifestyle Lift brochure. “I wanted to have the before and after like that but I didn’t get it. That’s what I was expecting.”
We have been requesting an interview for months with the owner and CEO of Lifestyle Lift for months and he finally agreed late last week to answer our questions. We sat down with him this morning for our interview.We asked Dr. David M. Kent repeatedly about the claims of the women you saw in our piece. He told us he didn't know about these problems and the women should return to the Atlanta office and tell the doctor about their concerns. We should tell you per Lifestyle Lift's request we provided them with medical releases so they could follow up on the patients in our investigation and answer questions about them during our interview.
Many of these women told us they don't want to go back to the office. They say they were treated poorly now that they had complaints. That they don't want the doctor touching their faces any more.We specifically asked Dr. Kent several times what recourse do these women have and how could they feel like they were getting personal attention when the lifestyle lift is marketed so broadly?
We asked Dr. Kent if he had any concerns about ‘blanket marketing’ when we’re talking about something as unique as a person’s face? Dr. Kent responded by saying “That's one of the unique things about Lifestyle Lift is traditionally before Lifestyle Lift was around only the wealthy people could afford to have these types of procedures. It wasn’t for everybody. What we’ve done is we’ve made it available for everyday Americans, no matter how much money you make, to be able to look younger."We told Dr. Kent the women we spoke with felt they weren’t treated in a unique fashion and that they weren’t checked out or given everything they needed to know before making their decision. Dr. Kent responded by saying he had not heard that before our interview.
Lifestyle Lift has been sued by former patients when the experience and the results did not meet their expectations. Dr. Kent says most of the complains are in his opinion, minor, and patients need to wait longer before seeing any results.In the course of our interview, the Lifestyle Lift people videotaped us and cut the interview itself short. We told them we would need an hour or more for our interview. However, less than 30 minutes in they told us they needed to leave.
In future reports, we are going to bring you answers to the tough questions about the Lifestyle Lift procedure so you can decide if this is right for you. You’re going to hear from almost a dozen different former lifestyle lift doctors, employees, and patients. You’ll also see court documents and settlement agreements seldom discussed in the public forum until now because of what former doctors refer to as the “litigious nature” of the Lifestyle Lift company. We will also bring you the opinion – and warnings of the chief of facial plastic surgery at Emory