Mumbai: Woman files case vs beauty company for forging papers after botch-up
After woman approaches consumer forum over alleged botox botch-up, she says VLCC forged her signatures on dubious consent documents
A botched botox treatment forced her to hide at home for nearly six months, but Gitanjali Singh, 57, has finally brought her ordeal to light after submitting a police complaint against VLCC. The Versova police have summoned officials from the cosmetic clinic chain, which not only bungled her treatment, but allegedly also forged the south Mumbai resident's signature on a consent form.
Gitanjali's lawyer submitted a written complaint to the Versova police on August 3, alleging that VLCC enticed the SoBo resident to get Botox and filler injections although they did not have qualified experts to administer the treatment.
The resident of Bhulabhai Desai Road had initially accompanied her daughter to the Andheri branch for a massage, and had enquired about weight loss and hair treatment.
"She purchased their hair treatment, but the representatives at the outlet kept persuading her to buy other products and services. She gave in, as they had promised good discount and freebies. She was manipulated into various other treatments that were not even required," said Gitanjali's advocate, Manoj Mirchandani.
According to the complaint, Gitanjali paid Rs 96,000 and underwent the first Botox session in the first week of November 2017, followed by a second session on November 14, when Juvederm fillers were injected under her eyes by a staffer identified as Hina Mukadam (who claimed to be a doctor). Within two days, Gitanjali's face was distorted by facial allergies, rashes, lumps, swelling and redness.
"I immediately contacted Hina via SMS, calls and WhatsApp. I was called to the clinic twice, when Hina said it was nothing but a normal rash, which should be massaged right away. She pressed my face heavily with her thumbs, which aggravated the condition and caused me unbearable pain," recalled Gitanjali in her statement.
She added, "As time passed, my condition worsened, and the pain became unbearable. In the first week of December, they brought another doctor, Rubina Shaikh, for corrective treatment. But the corrective treatments worsened my condition and aggravated the swelling. My eyes were watery, and my lips were swollen."
She went back to the clinic yet again on December 10, when senior cosmetologist Dr Tulla was flown down from Gurgaon to consult on the case. "I was shocked that the only advice they could offer was not to touch my face for at least three months. I insisted that the centre show me Hina's licence, but they didn't do so," recalled the victim, who still has a session pending at the centre.
Instead, senior officials from VLCC allegedly called her and offered R6 lakh to settle the matter, which Gitanjali rejected. She sent them a legal notice on December 21, 2017, to which they never responded.
Forged consent form?
Gitanjali moved the consumer dispute redressal commission, but was shocked to learn that in response, VLCC filed consent forms that were allegedly forged (page no 38 and 39). "Their affidavit had consent forms and post care treatment guidelines, but I never signed or even filled any such forms," she alleged.
Advocate Mirchandani added, "It is VLCC, who by their negligent behaviour and with sole intention of roping in rich clients, are offering beauty packages without any professional and qualified experts to conduct such line of cosmetic treatments."
For now, the police have started investigation into the complaint. Ravindra Badgujar, senior police inspector at Versova police station, said, "We have issued summons to the parties named in the complaint letter, and once we hear their side of the story, we will accordingly decide whether to register a criminal offence."
VLCC's defence and counter-allegations
"We have clarified to the police that the matter is already sub judice in the state commission. The customer was strictly advised to abstain from smoking post treatment. She did not adhere to that, resulting in the skin issues she faced afterwards," said a spokesperson from VLCC.
"There are temporary after-effects of every skin treatment or any skin-related procedure. There was no medical negligence whatsoever in the client's skin procedure, as also mentioned in our statement to the court. We want to underline the fact that filler or any skin treatment needs some precautions after procedure, like abstaining from smoking or tobacco and alcohol, etc. Failing to follow the advice often results in unsightly side effects," added the spokesperson, who did not comment on the allegations of forgery. Gitanjali's lawyer countered, "My client is not a habitual smoker, nor was she informed about the risks of smoking."
'Smoking isn't the culprit'
Dr Satish Bhatia, a dermatologist and cutaneous surgeon, who has worked with Botox for 21 years, said, "Smoking definitely could not have been the main cause for such a serious reaction.
"These days, numerous outlets give cosmetic treatments, which otherwise should be performed only by qualified and trained dermatologists or plastic surgeons," he cautioned.
Research the risks
* Juviderm fillers can, at times, cause allergic reactions, warned Dr Satish Bhatia.
* One of the commonest side effects is Orofacial Granulomas, which can lead to embolism and may even cause permanent blindness
* Consult a dermatologist before treatment
* Ask about probable adverse reactions
* Insist on seeing the license, qualification and experience of practitioner
* Ask for references from other clients
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