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State Ends 3-Year 'Lifestyle Lift' Probe

Florida has ended its three-year investigation of "Lifestyle Lifts" with a settlement that could bring refunds to a few and an agreement by the company to cover the state's costs.

However, the refunds will not be available to most former patients, a close reading of the 19-page agreement shows. It doesn't cover those who actually underwent the much-touted "facial rejuvenation" procedures, which were billed as a "revolutionary" way to get a facelift without general anesthesia and major surgery.

Lifestyle Lift Holding Inc., the Michigan-based parent company, admitted no wrongdoing in the agreement. But it promised not to use deceptive marketing practices in the future and to donate $25,000 to Seniors Vs. Crime, a non-profit group that fights crimes against senior citizens.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office announced the settlement on Monday in a press release that does not make clear how limited the refunds will be. According to the fine print, the only Floridians eligible for refunds are those who paid deposits for a procedure, changed their minds, asked for a refund, couldn't get it and filed complaints with the state since June 2009.

Anyone who meets those criteria and wants a refund must fill out a form and submit it by Sept. 8.

Apparently the refund offer does not apply to the customers who complained to the state about poor results from the procedures. The agreement says that they will be referred to a customer-relations group affiliated with the company.

The agreement, in which Lifestyle Lifts admits no wrongdoing, is a far cry from one negotiated by the state of New York. In 2009, facing accusations of illegal advertising, the company paid $300,000 to settle that case.

New York's then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said at the time that the company had been "duping" consumers, and that its marketing practices were "cynical, manipulative and illegal."

Health News Floridapublished an account of its own probe into Lifestyle Lifts in 2011. One Sarasota woman said that the ads promised a return to work the next day and that patients would look 10 to 20 years younger. Instead, she said, after the procedure she couldn't open her mouth for three days and that the procedure actually made her look older.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.