TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Attorney General office recently announced that Vanity Cosmetic Surgery Center has agreed to reimburse paying customers who have never received services from the company.
The decision comes after a nearly one-year-long investigation that uncovered many complaints lodged against Vanity Cosmetic Surgery Center alleging reported problems with refunds.
Customers claimed that they paid hundreds—even thousands— of dollars for surgeries and even when the procedures were canceled by a surgeon, they never received their payments refunded.
According to state officials, Vanity Cosmetic Surgery failed to clearly disclose all material terms and conditions of the transaction policy and didn’t honor their refund policy. In general, Florida’s laws on regulating cosmetic surgical facilities isn’t great, according to civil lawyer Spencer Aronfeld of Aronfeld Law Firm.
“Florida is a unique place, in that it is the perfect location if you were going to offer low-quality cosmetic surgery, particularly South Florida, because there’s little to no regulation that would prevent the number of horrifying practice cases that we see,” Aronfeld told the Florida Record.
Florida’s non-existent regulations governing medical facilities allows doctors to practice without medical malpractice insurance.
“When things go wrong, even in the best of hands, the majority of these doctors do not have insurance to compensate the victims,” Aronfeld said. “Anyone that has an M.D. at the end of their name—radiologist, pulmonologist or a gynecologist—and want to make money doing plastic surgery, is allowed.”
More than 70 people have been refunded approximately $190,000 so far. In addition, Vanity and its owner must pay $27,844 in restitution funds to cover previous complaints, pay $10,000 in escrow funds and $53,000 for attorney fees, costs and investigative fees.
The attorney general’s office said Vanity must meet the terms of the agreement, which includes: ensure that all statements, representations or claims on Vanity’s website or promotional material are accurate, issue refunds within 21 calendar days from the date the consumer requested the refund and make sure that all businesses owned or operated by Vanity are registered with the state of Florida.
The Southwest Eighth Street Vanity location is now non-operating, but a new facility with a new owner and name has opened up in its place.
This isn’t the first time Vanity has been in hot water. In September, Maria Christian, 32, died after undergoing a medical procedure at Vanity Cosmetic Center. The clinic said authorities did not find any violations, but Christian’s cause of death is still under investigation.
Aronfeld suggests that if you are looking to find a credible cosmetic surgery center, do your research.
“Go on the Florida Department of Health’s website and verify that the surgeon is licensed and find out whether or not there are pending cases against them, if their license has ever been suspended or revoked, and if they are board-certified as a plastic surgeon,” Aronfeld said. “Talk to patients that have undergone the procedure with them. Don’t rely on the pictures that they show you in the reception area. Do as much due diligence on this on anything you’ve ever done in your life.”