They are a symbol of serious illness and dreaded hospital stays, IV drips in recent years have become a status symbol of sorts. Celebrities and wealthy partiers spend big bucks curing hangovers, fighting colds, and boosting energy with needles in their arms.
Sofia Vergara reportedly had an “IV station” at her three-day wedding bash at the Breakers in Palm Beach in November 2015. “I thought somebody had had a heart attack because there was this first-aid truck set up outside of the pool area where all the bungalows are,” Vergara’s Modern Family costar Julie Bowen told Ellen DeGeneres. “And there were people sipping espresso getting IV rehydration… Apparently, there’s nothing you can do in three days that can’t be undone by some IV hydration!”
“We got nufffffin but love and vittys in our veinzzzz #vitaminpush,” Miley Cyrus wrote on an Instagram photo of herself making a face at the camera while an IV fed vitamins into her arm a few years ago.
In South Florida, various companies now offer IV therapy. For some, like the luxe MIAMI Institute inside the Four Seasons hotel, it’s part of a menu of aesthetic medical treatments. For others, such as Hydrate Medical, a mobile clinic that deploys nurses to homes and hotels across the region, IVs are the only thing on the menu. They cost anywhere from $99 to $300 apiece.
At the forefront of this trend is Dr. Ivan Rusilko, an osteopathic doctor, bodybuilder, and former model who pens erotic novels about himself, the 32-year-old Miami Beach transplant has built a business on the belief that good looks and good health go together.
From his office in Miami, AKA”the sexiest city in the world,” the fast-talking doctor administers IV therapy alongside booster shots and hormone replacement — controversial treatments he believes really work. He says he can mix IVs for just about anything you need: anti-aging, better sex, higher energy, thicker hair, fat loss, and reduced anxiety. “You come in, you tell me what you want,” Rusilko says, “and I make it for you.”
Yet others in the medical community say IV vitamin infusions are a scam. They typically are not covered by insurance. Few regulations govern their use, and no scientific evidence backs claims they boost energy or extend youth. There’s no reason to undergo such an expensive, medically invasive procedure, critics say.
“It’s the latest snake oil off the huckster’s cart,” says Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “It’s not the first; it won’t be the last — something else will replace it soon. But it slices, it dices, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s terrific, except that we know none of this, and we just made it all up.”