Healthcheck: Plastic surgery gone wrong

Saturday, July 09, 2011

There have been many plastic surgeries that have gone wrong, some patients have even died while under the knife, but not all mistakes are deadly.

Some surgeries just leave patients looking and feeling worse than before the procedure. But there are ways to avoid plastic surgery mishaps.

When Judith Gumabay was 18, she got breast implants, only they didn't turn out looking as she had hoped.

"It was very high," Judith said.

So she went to another doctor, this time in Florida, to have the surgery re-done.

"And he said he could actually make it bigger so I was like okay because we wanted that fuller look," said Judith.

But that fuller look would cost her, and not just in dollars. After the surgery, she had a series of complications. She says her skin was over-stretching.

"That's when it contracted, and you could literally see the bag like it was ready to come out," said Judith.

It was. Plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Davis says when he met Judith the implant was eroding through her skin. And he says complications like this are becoming more common, as plastic surgery becomes more common.

"Patients are traveling around getting these breast augmentations performed by doctors who may not always have the patient's best interest at heart," says Dr. Steven Davis.

In Judith's case, he believes she was offered too large of an implant for her body size.

He took her back into the operating room to remove the implants, and that's when he found another concern.

"I don't know what's inside that implant," Dr. Davis said. Debris was floating inside the implant, which is supposed to be sterile.

Dr. Kirk Brandow, also a board certified plastic surgeon, says, like Dr. Davis, he is seeing more people come in with complications from plastic surgeries done elsewhere, such a woman who didn't want to be identified. We'll call her Jane.

Jane wanted a flatter tummy but wanted to take a short-cut.

"I thought that liposuction was a good option, but I didn't want to go and get general anesthesia and be out for a period from work, etc," said Jane.

So she chose Smart-lipo, a procedure that was FDA-approved in 2006. It claims to be faster, safer and cheaper than traditional liposuction.

But some plastic surgeons, Like Dr. Brandow, aren't impressed with the results. Neither was Jane.

"It just was not flat, it was irregular and bumpy," Jane said.

Dr. Brandow says he's seen dozens of patients with similar complaints and other complications such as scarring.

Cynosure, the makers of the Smart-lipo system did not return our calls for comment. But in personal injury lawsuits filed against the company in New York, Cynosure blamed the doctors who used Smart-Lipo.

With all procedures, Dr. Brandow and Dr. Davis warn patients to choose their doctor wisely.

First make sure he or she is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in the procedure you want done.

"The second thing is, I really think you should have a realistic expectation as to what you can have done. If it seems far-fetched, it probably is," said Dr. Brandow.

Dr. Brandow also adds, don't cut corners.

"To a certain extent, you get what you pay for," said Dr. Brandow. "If they can't afford a procedure and they really, really want it, they should wait and save for it and go to an expert."

In the end, Jane ended up spending more money to smooth her skin.

Judith has been through years of complications. For now she is letting her body heal.

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plastic surgery, healthcheck, ali gorman, r.n.
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