MSNBC disease-mongering of “runner’s face”

MSNBC commits an egregious example of disease-mongering in a piece they headlined:

Plastic surgeon wants to fix your ‘runner’s face’.

What is so egregious? Let us count the ways:

• They pass along a plastic surgeon’s news release about his treatment for a condition he calls “runner’s face”.
• So it is a promotion for his treatment for a condition he has named. This is what is called “advertising” – not “journalism.”
• They provide no data.
• They describe the “horrors” of the condition.
• The writer discloses that “I ran my first marathon in June, and I definitely did get that hollow-cheek look described in the release.” So I suppose that’s all the reason readers need to find this important.
• They provide no information on the harms of the proposed treatment, nor on the costs.

Excerpts of the story:

Runners, beware. A New Jersey cosmetic surgeon has pinpointed something more nefarious than shin splints, stress fractures and even dead butt syndrome: “runner’s face.”

… that skinny, Skeletor-esque look some dedicated runners may unwittingly develop, as they’re likely distracted with all the miles they have to cover to prepare for their next race. (The cosmetic surgeon) describes the horrors thusly, in a press release issued today:

Runner’s face generally occurs in both men and women ages 40+ who exercise to improve their body, and in doing so end up with a skeletal and bony face. When exercising, an athlete burns off fat beneath the layers of his/her skin. The marked loss of fatty tissue results in a loss of volume which leads to a prominent appearance of the bones, accelerated development of skin laxity and deepening of wrinkles. Though you may look like a 20-year-old from the neck down–your face will easily give away your age.

(He) suggests a Botox-Restylane (or other injectable filler) combo, which will smooth wrinkles and plump that gaunt face right back up.

Let me ask you this: if insurance DOES cover this (something not disclosed in the story, either) and if you’re in the same insurance pool with a runner who bites on this Botox hollow-cheeked horror fix, do you want your premiums going up as the result of utilization of this health care intervention?

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October 17, 2011 at 5:34 am

Boy, if this isn’t an advertisement, I don’t know what is.

Walter Lipman

October 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

I wonder what procedures this doctor performed upon, say, the booking producer (or a friend, relative, etc)at MSNBC? People don’t get placed as “harmless” filler on television programs by random chance. I’m pretty sure that, if one were to waste their time drilling deeper into this–the apotheosis of the “non-story”–the inevitable findings would turn out rotten.
Instead of Botox, perhaps external application of the Duco Plastic Body Compound I routinely applied to my ever-rusting 1966 Volvo could be used as an alternative, taking medical insurance out of the loop?

Chris (UK)

October 17, 2011 at 10:05 am

Good grief!!!
“When exercising, an athlete burns off fat beneath the layers of his/her skin.”
So, this “runner’s face” (if it exists), is actually an indication of a good thing – loss of fat?
For all the problems over here with our National Health Service (and it’s certainly not perfect), I’d rather have it than a system where quacks can invent a syndrome!