The Big Business of Beauty
Give me your tired, your rich, your aging masses
yearning to be beautiful
Boosting or amplifying an individual’s physical attractiveness can be
enormously profitable, especially for those who have both the ability
to devise new products or services andtheentrepreneurialchops to
market them to a PA-hungry public.
There’s no better example than Dr.David Ma
tlock, whose sur-
gery speciality discussed in theprior chapterhaspropelled him to
fame andprosperity through theLaser Vaginal RejuvenationInsti-
tute (LVRI). When Dr. Matlock realized how popular thissurgical
ocedure had become, how many doctorswereperforming similar
operations and how it seemed to be making most of themrich, he
decided that hecould—nay,should!—profit not only fromhisown
Matlock’s physician-
associates enroll in his four-
day course to learn surgical
techniques to a tune
approaching $10,000 and
then pay $2,500 monthly
fees for two years, totaling
about $70,000 per person.
precisionapplicationsofthesurgicallaser,butfrom anyone using
his techniques. Matlock (did Imention that he also has an MBA?)
trademarked theterms ‘‘LVRI ’’ and ‘‘vaginal r ejuvenation’’ and
patented someofhi
Thenhestarted a so-called ‘‘associate operation’’—not, heem-
phasizes, a franchise. ‘‘The doctors are associates of LVRI,’’ he ex-
plained. ‘‘Wetaught andtrained theminall techniques, and offered
themabusiness model. We also offer supporttoth
ese associates.’’
That’s nothing like whatBurger King does forits franchisees,
Matlock’s physician-associates enroll in hisfour-day course to
learn surgical techniques to a tune approaching $10,000 andthen
pay $2,500 monthly fees for two years, totaling about $70,000 per
n.By early 2005 he had already enrolled over fortyassociates
in theUnited States, Canada, Sweden,France, Indonesia, andAus-
tralia, adding aboutthree million dollarstohis coffers. Alwayspush-
ing forward, theportion of
his website targeted to gain more
potential associates (www.drmatlock.com/
physicians.asp, accessed August 14, 2007) to
supplement his already sizeable surgicalearn-
ings, headlines: ‘‘No one in theworld knows
theLVRI business like I do. In 2006, my LVRI
ctice Gross Revenues were $3,000,000.00
on just 360 cases. This is anormal year forme.
David Matlock, MD, MBA, FACOG.’’ As for
the many physicians using similar techniques
and marketing themintermsthat resemble
Matlock’s trademarked LVRIand ‘‘vaginal re-
on,’’ asthe doctoriden tifies such practitioners, hedis-
patches cease-and-desist lettersciting hispatents and asserting
trademark infringement.
Some doctors have expressed shock (orawe) about Matlock’s
methods, but hestayso
nmessagewith a rigor thatwould draw
approving nods from any politician or public relations executive.
Matlock knows why doctorswanttobein the designer vagina busi-
ness: It’s muchmorelucrative than standard OB/GYNor even
ventionalcosmeticsurgery. In America, if you patent a unique
techniquefor,say, cooking a fowl from the inside out, and get legal
trademarkprotection for ‘‘Inverse Cooking,’’ butsubsequently
learn thatothers are using your methods andcalling them by similar
names, you may eithe
ruse thelegalsystem to bar othersfromin-
fringing onyour patents andtrademarks or forfeitfurther nancial
interest in your invention. If you don’t vigorously protect your in-
tellectualproperty, you
will lose it. So whenMatlock tells other
doctorsthat ifthey wanttouse his designer vagina techniques they
must pay him a license fee, he is merely defend-
ing his intellectualproperty.
And, of course, as Matlock reminds all who
caretolisten, his mi
and associates—is not to line anyone’s pockets
but ‘‘to empower women wi th knowledge,
choice, and alternatives.’’
I do not cite Dr. Matlock to suggest that
anything hedid might possibly be unlawful. As
far as I can tell, he has neither violated any ethi-
calcanonnor failed a patient in any way. I choose Matlock only
because, in hisown way, h
e is exemplar of a contemporary evolu-
tionary lobe of the colorfulNewWorld creature entrepreneurs
americanus, as much to be admired and maybe emulated as hisphil-
osophicalforebears Eli Whitney, Thomas Edison, andBill Gates.
lthe middle of thelast century,cosmeticsurgery was
mostly focused onhelping thetragically deformed. During World
War II,thousands of Japanese were horribly burned by thefire-
bombing of Tokyo andthen byatomicbombs dropped on Hir
shima andNagasaki.AhandfulofJapanese surgeons and urologists
turned their attentionstorepairing and reconstructing their faces,
buttherewere too many victims and not enough trained surgeons.
Among the most tragicofthese v
ictimswas agroupofgrotesquely
disfigured adolescent girls dubbed theHiroshima Maidens; their
faces weredistorted by thick scar tissue andtheir hands werebent
into near-useless claws. In 1955, twenty-five of these young women
eUnited States, wherethey endured a succession
of cosmetic operationsthat helped restoretheir appearance to a
semblance of normalcy.
And, of course, as Matlock
reminds all who care to lis-
ten, his mission is not to line
anyone’s pockets but ‘‘to
empower women with
knowledge, choice, and

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