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CONTACT 13: Weight loss nightmare

Posted at 10:45 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 10:52:09-05

The unlicensed practice of medicine occurs in the shadows all over Las Vegas. It's not only dangerous, but also against the law. 

Now, Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears is exposing a woman claiming to help melt away your fat in an illegal apartment medical clinic.

All over her public Facebook page, she's exposing, primping and posing. Advertising weight loss treatments so you, too can look like her.

One client we spoke to said she was told "how I would lose 5 sizes" for a price.

Darcy Spears: How much?
Tasha Jordan: $500.
Other client: It was $500 for 10 sessions.
Darcy: Cash?
Client: Cash.

Tasha Jordan and another woman, who asked us to conceal her identity, say Heidy Alagna goes by Heidy Vegas on social media. 

She claims to be a licensed Venezuelan medical esthetician. But we're a long way from from Venezuela, and she holds no license of any kind here in Nevada. 

Heidy reportedly gets clients through word of mouth and at her gym, preying on people desperate to lose weight. 

The women we spoke to paid Heidy for a controversial medical treatment called mesotherapy.

"Mesotherapy is not a valid treatment for weight loss," said Dr. Benjamin Rodriguez, a certified cosmetic and plastic surgeon who's also past president of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners.

"It is a violation to apply a treatment which has no known or no proven therapeutic use."

And it's just plain illegal to do it at all if you're not a licensed doctor.

The idea behind mesotherapy starts with a syringe and ends with a toilet. The claim is that after a series of injections in the stomach, your fat cells break down and you urinate them out.

"You don't excrete all your Big Macs and Whoppers," Dr. Rodriguez explains. "They get absorbed and turn into fat in other places."

Tasha says she had no idea what she was in for last summer when she first went to Heidy's apartment on Starboard Drive in The Lakes.

"And then you go to the back room. Or the first little room and then she has a bed in there, the machine, and it's pretty much only set up for this service," Tasha described.

Heidy had pictures of the room on Facebook, as well as herself, posing with a machine in medical scrubs.

The machine supposedly does something called cavitation -- a way to further break up fat cells.

"This machine, when it touches your skin, you can hear like a ringing in your ears," said one client.

Tasha was taken by surprised when Heidy brought out a syringe.

"I was kind of like, whoa!!! And she was like, "It's OK. It's OK."

"And the first injection I was like stop! What is that? Because it's burning!" said the client. "When she injected me with it, it actually bruised and was lumpy."

Darcy Spears: So she tells you these series of injections coupled with some treatment from this machine -- you're going to get skinny.  

Client: Yes

Dr. Rodriguez says most physicians who practiced mesotherapy stopped years ago. 

Back in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control issued a warning after 14 patients of an unlicensed mesotherapy practitioner had severe skin reactions and lesions. 

For Tasha, it was much worse.

"Literally six hours after I got the treatment, I started throwing up. I had to call an ambulance at one point. My mother thought I was going to die. I have hospital bills like you would not believe."

Tasha was in and out of the hospital for more than a week after her treatment in Heidy's apartment.

"When I was in the hospital the first time, she kept texting me 'please don't give them my name. What are you telling them?'"

We wanted to know what Heidy would tell us. We went to her apartment only to find she'd recently moved. 

Using a translator, we spoke to her on the phone. 

She admitted doing the treatments, but said it was only for friends of friends who gave her donations. 

She said she recently stopped after learning she needed a medical license and we saw that she took a lot of stuff related to mesotherapy and cavitation off her Facebook page. 

She would not do an on-camera interview.

Heidy is now under investigation by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners. 

That agency may ultimately pass the case on to the Nevada Attorney General.