Nov. 10, 2005 -- The CDC reports that 14 women in the Washington, D.C. area had prolonged skin reactions after getting a bogus version of a cosmetic procedure called mesotherapy.
In mesotherapy, tiny quantities of various substances -- such as vitamins or plant extracts -- are injected for cosmetic purposes (such as wrinkle reduction or body contouring) or relief of musculoskeletal pain.
The 14 cases described by the CDC all stem from one unnamed, unlicensed practitioner who didn't follow proper procedures. The skin problems centered on the injection sites; their cause is unknown.
The CDC calls for mesotherapy providers to follow basic rules of medical sanitation (like cleaning hands, wearing gloves, and using new needles for each patient) and any state or local licensing laws.
The practitioner in question claimed to be a doctor from Colombia. He worked out of a private home and wasn't licensed to practice medicine in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C.
Laws governing medical procedures vary from state to state. In Virginia, mesotherapy is considered to be a medical procedure that may only be practiced by licensed providers.
The women reported that their injections had included various substances, including plant extracts from artichoke. Only one of those substances, a drug called procaine, has been approved by the FDA for under-the-skin injections.
The practitioner reportedly also didn't practice hand hygiene, didn't prepare the women's skin with an anesthetic before the injections, didn't wipe the vials with alcohol before injection, and didn't wear gloves.
The CDC has tried to get the vials the practitioner had used to treat the women.
The CDC hasn't been able to reach the practitioner for questioning, so they've called in authorities from Virginia to help with the investigation.
The report appears in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.