Botox and Juvederm injections to smooth facial wrinkles or to plump lips and cheeks are popular cosmetic procedures in South Florida.
Both prescription drugs are supposed to be given by a licensed healthcare professional — not by a woman claiming to have been a dentist in Argentina.
But police say that’s what happened at Surfside’s Lemel Medical Spa. They arrested a 59-year-old woman this week on charges of practicing medicine without a license and possession of prescription drugs, including one pre-filled syringe of Juvederm, one bottle of Botox and one glass capsule of Lidocaine, a local anesthetic.
Alicia Norma Giser of Hallandale Beach told Surfside detectives that she had given multiple Botox and Juvederm injections to patients during the nine months she worked at the spa, according to the arrest report. Giser also told police that she is a dentist in Buenos Aires.
Representatives for Lemel Medical Spa, which operates a second location in Miami’s Brickell Key, could not be immediately reached Friday.
Surfside and Miami-Dade police launched an undercover investigation into the spa after receiving a tip from the Florida Department of Health about unlicensed activity at the clinic on 9471 Harding Avenue.
During the investigation, Giser medically diagnosed an undercover detective, offering Juvederm injections to the lips for $750 and Botox shots to the face for $525, according to the arrest report. Police then reported they found Giser in possession of prescription drugs.
Police arrested her Nov. 15. The Florida health department also issued Giser a cease-and-desist notice for practicing medicine without a license, a third-degree felony. She faces up to one year in jail if convicted.
Giser’s arrest follows several high-profile criminal cases in Miami-Dade involving unlicensed doctors who injured patients with silicone injections, which are illegal for body shaping procedures. This week, the federal Food and Drug Administration issued new warnings for consumers about the health risks of receiving silicone injections.
Unlicensed medical procedures have become something of a cottage industry in South Florida, leading state health officials to launch a website to raise awareness among consumers. The website, www.flhealthsource.gov/ula, offers consumers access to licensing and other information for healthcare professionals in the state.
Consumers also may file complaints anonymously by calling 877-HALT-ULA, or sending an email to HALTULA@flhealth.gov.