Lifestyle Lift, a nationwide chain of 50-plus cosmetic surgery centers with locations in Tampa and seven other Florida cities, shut down the majority of its business and said it is considering filing for bankruptcy.
In a letter to employees sent Sunday, company founder Dr. David Kent stated the company "has made the decision to temporarily cease operations until further notice." The letter tells employees not to report to work "until further notice unless otherwise instructed." News of Lifestyle Lift's difficulties was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
The 13-year-old company offers what it claims is a less-invasive facelift procedure that requires only local anesthesia and a shorter recovery time. Its advertisements boasted that the services are affordable for everyday people who want to "look as young on the outside as you feel on the inside."
In better times, Lifestyle Lift featured an infomercial hosted by minor celebrity Debby Boone singing her hit song from the late 1970s, You Light Up My Life.
The Journal reports the Troy, Mich.-based company owes money to JPMorgan Chase. A bank spokesman declined to comment.
In his letter to employees, Kent called the future of the company "uncertain" but added there are plans to reorganize "to accommodate a new investment."
Two years ago, after a state investigation, Lifestyle Lift agreed to a settlement with Florida's attorney general to change its marketing practices, including no longer referring to its services as a "revolutionary procedure."
In 2012, a 57-year-old Tampa doctor who got her medical degree at the University of South Florida and is board-certified in internal medicine filed suit over the Lifestyle Lift procedure. Her proposed class-action lawsuit alleged that Lifestyle claims of a relatively low complication rate and faster healing time were misleading.
And in 2011, four Tampa Bay area patients accused the company of "unfair and deceptive" advertising after seeing "inadequate" results after undergoing "Lifestyle Lift" facelift procedures in 2007.
A recording on Lifestyle Lift's toll-free number says the company currently cannot take calls.