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Mini medical miracles: Getting rid of wrinkles

Rating

0 Star

Mini medical miracles: Getting rid of wrinkles

Our Review Summary

This story was a classic case of disease-mongering.  The anchor lead-in states that this segment was part of a four-part series on "mini-medical miracles." The anchor said: "This week we’ve checked out potential breakthroughs in treatments for baldness, insomnia and dandruff.  Today we end with wrinkles.  Could having a new laser treatment in your forties or fifties prevent you from ever needing a facelift?"  No one needs a facelift.  It is not a matter of need.  Similarly, baldness, insomnia and dandruff are not diseases that require treatment – much less miracles or breakthroughs.  

There is absolutely no evidence provided – not on benefits, not on harms, not on how long this approach has been tested nor in how many people.  

Only a single source is interviewed – a physician who appears in several company news releases. 

This is one of the rare stories that fails on all of our criteria.   

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The reporter says "it’s going to cost three to five thousand dollars."  That’s too broad a range to be helpful to the viewer.  There is also no cost comparison with any of the other multitude of wrinkle "treatments" already on the market.  Most important, there is no discussion of whether insurers are likely to cover it.    

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

There is no data provided on either benefits or harms. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The reporter says there is "redness for a few days and that’s it.  Very safe."  For something that is called a mini-miracle and a breakthrough, and which costs thousands of dollars, viewers deserve a much more thorough, numeric discussion of potential harms. In another place, she says "essentially you’re back to work in four or five days."  That’s a big consideration for most people – maybe not the people who would pursue this approach.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

There is no discussion of the evidence for this procedure – not how long nor in how many patients. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

This story was a classic case of disease-mongering.  The anchor lead-in states that this segment was part of a four-part series on "mini-medical miracles." The anchor said: "This week we’ve checked out potential breakthroughs in treatments for baldness, insomnia and dandruff.  Today we end with wrinkles.  Could having a new laser treatment in your forties of fifties prevent you from ever needing a facelift."  No one needs a facelift.  It is not a matter of need.  Similar, baldness, insomnia and dandruff are not diseases that require treatment – much less miracles or breakthroughs. 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The only physician quoted is one who appears in several company news releases.  No independent source is interviewed. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story only mentiones one other laser treatment but there is no meaningful comparison with any of the multitude of other wrinkle "treatments" already on the market.  Also no discussion of the fact that wrinkles don’t need to be treated. 

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story notes that the device was approved by the FDA, there is no indication of its general availability. The physician-reporter says "This is going to be in your doctor’s office soon."  How does she know that? She acknowledges that "what will be interesting to see is how many dermatologists have that credit card to pay for this upfront and how long it’s going to take them to pay it off."  At this point, we have no idea how widely accepted this procedure will be. 

 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The only physician quoted calls it "the biggest breakthrough in wrinkle removal in the last five to ten years."  But the reporter lumps it in with all other laser approaches, saying "Laser technology has been around for a long time and very vetted."  Given that there is no independent source analyzing the approach, no meaningful comparison with other wrinkle treatments, and no evidence is provided, the story provides only a confusing and hyped-up promotion of this approach. 

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relies solely or largely on a news release, but we do know that the only physician quoted is one who appears in many company news releases. 

Total Score: 0 of 9 Satisfactory

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