Buyer Beware In Quest For Beauty

In this playground for the rich and powerful, the business of being beautiful has gone underground.

What may be the nation's largest black market of unlicensed doctors is making a fortune selling bogus Botox and other cosmetic treatments to people, who, as CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta reports, should have known better.

"People always used to say when I smile my face lit up and now I am resisting smiling because I know what I look like," says Wilma Sepulveda, "I look like a clown."

Sepulveda paid $1,200 for facial injections from a woman claiming to be a dermatologist from the Dominican Republic, a procedure that was supposed to erase the wrinkles on her face. Instead, they left permanent lumps and scars.

"She just told me it's all in my imagination. It's going to go away. The marks – just massage it constantly and it will go away," Sepulveda says of the doctor. "Whatever she put in there is still in there, it hasn't dissolved. It hasn't done anything."

Doctor Flor Mayoral, a real dermatologist in South Florida, has another word for what's going on.

"It's really playing Russian roulette with your face," Mayoral says.

"The problem is really an epidemic. Patients come in every single day to say that have got illegal injections."

So what is behind this epidemic? Both Miami's medical and law enforcement communities point to that age old problem of age defiance in South Florida. It's vanity.

Miami-Dade police detective Hector Llevat says that vanity takes many victims inside the imposters' homes.

Llevat, a part of the police department's Unlicensed Practioner Unit, says when he goes inside many of these homes, "they are not sanitary."

"You don't have proper bio-hazardous waste systems in place like the containers for the syringes, the proper sterilization equipment. You find dirty towels a lot of the times," Llevat says. "This is not a doctor's office."

Victoria Arnaiz started going to one fake doctor after seeing his ad on TV.

Sad and full of regret, Arnaiz says of the doctor, "Well, he play with my life, that's the first thing. I could be dead right now."

Arnaiz says her life was in danger and has hired an attorney who says before you judge his client consider how good some of the criminals really are.

"They rent space that looks like a doctor's office - you know nice marble floors and little soft music playing in the background, fake diplomas on the walls, business cards, employees walking around in nurse's scrubs and before you know it, the average person is confused, and unfortunately, sometimes very, very badly damaged," the arrorney, Spencer Aronfeld, says.

"I regret the day I did this. I just felt here I was going to try to look attractive," Sepulveda says. "Now I feel ugly."

Sepulveda got hurt just trying to look better, but found out beauty can come at a high price.
  • Sean Alfano

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter