We were duped over £4,000 'miracle cure' for wrinkles
An American company selling "a miracle cure for wrinkles" is under investigation after hundreds of women complained the expensive procedure did not work.
An estimated 7,000 patients paid up to £4,500 for Isolagen treatment when it was launched amid a huge frenzy in Britain four years ago.
Billed as a non-surgical facelift, the treatment involves removing skin from behind the ear, growing collagen cells in a laboratory, and then re-injecting the collagen into the face to rejuvenate it and smooth wrinkles.
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But plastic surgeons who administered the treatment today admitted it had been "over hyped" and that patients were dissatisfied in as many as one in five cases.
The US biotechnology firm behind Isolagen has now shut its Hammersmith-based British branch leaving scores of patients trying to get their money back.
Trading standards officers are investigating, with complaints lodged in Westminster, Haringey and Newcastle. Some of the women have formed a campaign group and are considering legal action against Isolagen or suing the clinics that administered the treatment. The procedure has still to receive approval in the US and is due to undergo testing to make sure it is safe and that it works.
But because such procedures do not require regulation in Britain - Isolagen is not deemed a medicine - the US company was able to pilot the product on British "guinea pigs". It was widely administered by a number of clinics around the country and vigorously marketed by Isolagen.
Actress Emma Samms, best known for her role in Dynasty, was used to promote it.
Marketing executive Julia Dallaston-Morris, 43, of south London, has been in dispute with Isolagen for three years after paying £2,500 for treatments she claims made no difference.
"It was traumatic enough having 30 or 40 injections each time and then depressing to find out that I had spent all that money for something that didn't work. I was misled - they said it couldn't fail."
Julia Hall, 37, told how she spent almost £4,000 - while her partner spent a similar sum - on Isolagen but she alleges it had no effect.
"We have lost almost all our life savings. It was extortionately expensive and at the time the advertising totally duped us into going ahead with the treatment. Isolagen have scarpered and left us high and dry. We want our money back. They have run back to America with people's money.
"The Government should have legislation for this sort of thing."
Westminster Council's trading standards officers confirmed it had received several complaints and was advising on consumer rights and legal action.
Isolagen, headed by chief executive Nicholas L Teti, was unavailable for comment in the US but a posting on its British website insisted the "reason for the closure is financial and is not product or safety related".
Isolagen claims to have successfully treated thousands of women with only a five per cent failure rate.
Douglas McGeorge, President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, described Isolagen's claims that it "rejuvenated" the skin as "nonsense" and said the product was "completely oversold". He said it was no more than "an expensive biological filler", used to plump out wrinkles