The entrepreneur behind a tool designed to massage skin aggressively in order to break up cellulite is accused of "false advertising" and "gross negligence" in a lawsuit filed in California that is seeking class action status.
A group of 10 plaintiffs accused Ashley Black and her company of failing to address the alleged side effects of using the FasciaBlaster, an $89 tool sold on Amazon and elsewhere that claims to "diminish cellulite" and "blast away subcutaneous fat."
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, argues that not only does the product “fail to deliver the aesthetic results stridently guaranteed” by the company, but that it causes a “wide array of physical injuries” including bruising, hormonal instability and strokes. When people complained about their FasciaBlaster experiences in a Facebook support group, which included more than 300,000 members, Black’s company responded with harassment and cyberbullying, the lawsuit asserts.
The company told BuzzFeed News that the allegations in "this frivolous lawsuit" are "nothing more than a shakedown effort.” The company added that "judging by the false statements in the complaint" it expected "an expedient dismissal."
The lawsuit follows a BuzzFeed News story that first reported on controversy over the company's cellulite and fat-busting device and its recommended usage techniques. The FasciaBlaster has prompted 62 reports of injury and product malfunction submitted to the FDA since October 2016, with complaints that include bruising, weight gain, and digestive issues.
FasciaBlaster users are told to heat up in a sauna, slather themselves in oil, and rigorously massage with the tool up to four times a week to purportedly break up cellulite. Bruising, according to Black, is a sign of restoring “unhealthy fascia."
But medical professionals told BuzzFeed News that these claims were not backed by firm science. Doctors said there was little evidence that massaging permanently destroys cellulite, which is created by fat compressed between a web of benign tissue between the skin and muscle called fascia.
John Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford Health Care, told BuzzFeed News that a bruise is essentially a collection of blood beneath the skin and it does "not equal fascia being broken up.”
Although Black asserts that the FasciaBlaster doesn’t bruise healthy tissue when properly used, Morton noted that “any skin can get bruised. It doesn’t matter if it’s healthy or not.”
Perrin F. Disner, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told BuzzFeed News that Black's company's behavior "is morally reprehensible."
"It's bad enough when some new beauty fad fails to provide the advertised results — junkyards are brimming with every pricey gimmick that overpromised and underperformed," he said.
"Worse, though, is when you wish that the latest gadget had merely failed to do what it was supposed to, because now you're also very sick, while the company claims there have been no complaints and tells 300,000+ people to ignore you because you're just a lying troll," Disner added.
Plaintiffs in the suit describe nausea, fatigue, body aches, and depression immediately following their use of the FasciaBlaster tool and protocols. Sue Grickly, one of the plaintiffs, claims that after three weeks of using the device, she felt burning pain in her neck and shoulder and was subsequently diagnosed with a pinched nerve.
Later, Grickly said, she felt a pain in her hip that was so severe she was unable to walk. An ambulance brought her to the emergency room, where doctors told her she had internal bleeding from a blood vessel that had burst. Her related medical bills amount to roughly $23,800, of which she has paid more than $6,750, according to the lawsuit.
Read the complaint here.
Leticia Miranda is a retail reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Leticia Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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