Liposuction warning

lipo1

The before and after photos are dramatic.

Before: A young woman with a toned, hard body.

After: A young woman with bumps and gouges lurking under her skin.
What happened? Cosmetic Liposuction happened.

The patient has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health regarding the allegations you are about to read.

The questions that immediately arise are these:

  1. Should a nurse be allowed to perform liposuction surgery?
  2. Should a doctor without board certification in a specific specialty, be allowed to perform surgery in that field?

Whether we ever get answers to these questions or whether the investigation yields anything is yet to be determined.

Decide for yourself.

The woman enters studio B here at the WKRN studios sheepishly. She seems unsure if she wants to proceed. She hesitates when I ask her to sit down. I can see the emotional cloud weighing on your shoulders like a back pack filled with cement.

The woman has made it clear; she doesn’t want to be identified because she is so distraught by the results of her 2 procedures.

I tell her to take a seat and begin telling me her story. Let’s just talk and see what happens.

She seems more relaxed as we begin the interview.The before and after photos are dramatic. Before: A young woman with a toned, hard body. After: A young woman with bumps and gouges lurking under her skin. What happened? Cosmetic Liposuction happened. The patient has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health regarding the allegations you are about to read. The questions that immediately arise are these: Should a nurse be allowed to perform liposuction surgery? Should a doctor without board certification in a specific specialty, be allowed to perform surgery in that field? Whether we ever get answers to these questions or whether the investigation yields anything is yet to be determined. Decide for yourself. The woman enters studio B here at the WKRN studios sheepishly. She seems unsure if she wants to proceed. She hesitates when I ask her to sit down. I can see the emotional cloud weighing on your shoulders like a back pack filled with cement. The woman has made it clear; she doesn’t want to be identified because she is so distraught by the results of her 2 procedures. I tell her to take a seat and begin telling me her story. Let’s just talk and see what happens. She seems more relaxed as we begin the interview. The woman has several reasons for telling her story, but ultimately I think she wants other patients to hear her cautionary tale. The 26 year old is timid and her voice breaks with emotion as she recounts the events that lead to this interview. The lights in the studio are off. Her nervous face is barely illuminated by the purple hue that is the remnants of the old lottery set. She says it all starts after she gives birth. “I wanted some time for me and my husband. I wanted to travel. I wanted to be in shape. I worked out. It wasn’t coming off as easily as I wanted it to.” That’s when the woman tells me that she begins looking at cosmetic liposuction surgery, a procedure that can easily cost over $6,000 when done by a board certified plastic surgeon. $6,000! OUCH! Like many of us shopping for anything, the woman begins to shop for less expensive alternatives. That’s when someone tells her about a respected Middle Tennessee dermatologist who also does the procedure, for a fraction of the price. “I went in for a consultation because I was referred to the doctor,” the woman says. “The doctor said I was a perfect candidate for it, just to take off a few extra pounds in that problem area. She had a nurse that assisted, who flies in, and assists with the surgeries. The nurse worked with a plastic surgeon, obviously, somewhere.” The woman says she is impressed by the dermatologist and agrees to the procedure which will cost $2,800 dollars. It will be done, she says, without general anesthesia and in the Doctor’s office. The doctor will tell her that is how the procedure can be done for $2,800 dollars. The woman swallows hard. “Once I got in there, I realized the nurse started the surgery and the doctor was not in there till the end, and I asked when the doctor was coming, she said a few minutes, and by the time the doctor came in she was done.” The results were hardly what this one time physically fit woman was expecting. “After a few weeks, I came back in and saw the doctor, who said, if there is a need for a touch up we’ll do it. Let’s wait a little longer. So we waited a few months. Then I came back in. The doctor said definitely you need a touch up, because there was not enough fat removed.” The woman says she is hesitant but because of the money she has all ready spent and the demeanor of the Dermatologist, she agrees to a 2nd touch up procedure. It will again take place in the doctor’s office and it will again be conducted by the same nurse. “So the same nurse came in, and she is not very friendly. It comes across, like she is irritated.” “How are you feeling at this point?” I ask. “I don’t have the money to do another surgery. And I feel like I didn’t get the results I wanted, and neither did the doctor.” The woman tells me that the nurse seems agitated while performing the touch up procedure. Surgery should be a calm time in a patient’s life. That is not how this woman sitting before me describes this 2nd procedure. “The whole time I felt like she (the nurse) didn’t want to do it. I don’t know if she doesn’t get paid for the touch up session or what, but the whole time we were in there, you could feel the tension, she was upset that she had to be there. And then once again, the doctor came in when the nurse was done. I got wrapped and sent away.” A few weeks go by and the woman is even more appalled by the results which show major indentions and spots in her stomach. Should health professionals be board certified in their specialty in order to do cosmetic surgery? Yes No Vote View Results “I showed the doctor my concerns. I had indentions and spots all over me and lumps of fat, where not enough fat was taken out. The doctor said ok. You need six months to heal. Your body is going to change. And I waited six months. I did everything the doctor said to do. I waited six months and came back and I told the doctor these results are not satisfactory. They are horrible. Something has to be done! The doctor agreed, and suggested another touch up. I said I didn’t want them to touch me again.” Her face veiled in a purple glow, I think I see a tear forming in the young woman’s eye. Again she swallows and begins to tell me about going to 2 or 3 plastic surgeons to see if the damage could be corrected. Surprisingly, the news is not good. “They say it was not fixable. They could go in and take out the little bit of fat remaining, but they say it was scar tissue caused by trauma to the area. So it is permanent, and it causes knots and indentions. She took out too much fat. And you cannot put fat back in.” The woman becomes emotional. She is obviously struggling with these terrible results. She tells me how it has affected her life. “It has put the biggest strain on my marriage and my family. I am not the same mentally as I was 2 years ago. I am very insecure when it comes to my husband. My in securities bleed over into my family, because I am not as good a mom as I could be because I feel like I am taking time from my child.” I ask her if she can go into public in a bathing suit. Apparently this hits a raw nerve. “I can’t. I have to wear clothes. Every vacation we have been on, I can’t wear a bathing suit, not even a one piece, because you still see, the lumps under the suit.” She pauses, and sighs. “It is hard. Every vacation, I have taken, I have to have a shirt on to get in the pool.” The woman tells me that the dermatologist agreed that the procedure has an undesired result. The woman says the doctor agrees to refund the woman her $2,800 dollars. The woman tells the doctor she would like the doctor to kick in the extra money to help pay for a certified plastic surgeon to repair the damage. “I told the doctor that all the plastic surgeons I had been to just to do the touch up to get the fat out, that was remaining, the scar tissue is not fixable, but to get the fat out, it will be $5,000 to 6,000 dollars. The doctor told me that I would get back my $2,800 dollars back to go toward the new surgery. Well that is just not acceptable to me. The doctor did acknowledge it was a problem, that it was not right, and said I should not be happy with the results.” The woman says she retains an attorney who contacts the doctor. That is when the woman says the doctor instructs them not to contact the dermatologist office anymore. More than a year passes and the woman’s legal options have expired. I ask why the woman couldn’t press forward with her case. She says that it is expensive to file a lawsuit and line up medical experts and she didn’t have the resources to continue. She tells me that under state law, patients like her have a year to file a lawsuit, and if they do not, then the statute of limitations expire. In this case; the woman has apparently lost her right to sue the doctor for damages. What do you want to say to the doctor I ask. “I can’t believe the way the doctor runs the business. The doctor has ruined my life, putting the biggest strain on my marriage and my family. The doctor is trying to push me under the rug and act like it didn’t happen.” The woman has this message for any prospective liposuction patient: “Please, please don’t settle for anything just because it is cheaper. You have to go to a board certified plastic surgeon. If you can’t afford it don’t do it. It could ruin your life like it has done mine.” I go to Vanderbilt Medical center and talk to a garrulous doctor who knows a thing or two about plastic surgery. Dr. Bruce Shack is a board certified plastic surgeon with 28 years of experience. Surrounded by a board room full of medical text books and Aesthetic magazines, I pick the brain of the hospital’s chairman of plastic surgery. “You can do lipo with local anesthesia, and either pill sedation or intravenous. But In my practice I would not do a full abdominal lipo without more sedation than that. It is hard to do a good job. It is hard work.” Dr. Shack looks at the photos of the woman. He doesn’t her pre op story, but if she is telling the truth, and these photos don’t lie, he sees many problems in the care she received. “There has been a less than good result from the liposuction that she had. At the beginning, you have to say that complications can happen in even the best of situations even in the best of hands. Even the best trained plastic surgeon can have complications, but to minimize the risk it is Helpful for patients, seeking plastic surgery, whether it is reconstructive or cosmetic plastic surgery to understand the training and background of the surgeon they select and are they really qualified to do the procedure.” The doctor is motoring though thoughts and medical jargon like a sports car ripping down Hwy 1 just north of Big Sur on the California Coast. The more he wants to tell me, the more the flood gates of his medical mind open up trying to force feed me a lecture on the do’s and don’ts of liposuction. He begins by condemning the loose laws that govern the Volunteer state. “Unfortunately, in Tennessee, as in most states in this country, the license to practice medicine is an “unrestricted license” meaning that if you are a licensed physician in the state of Tennessee, you can pretty much do what you want to do as far as medicine, and surgery. But what has protected patients in the past, is the hospitals had supplied a credentialing process, for a surgeon or a physician for that matter to do a procedure, within the confines of that hospital. They had to go through a rigorous examination by the credentials committee. To make certain that they’re training and they’re credentials were in order. To allow them to do the procedures whether it was hearth surgery or brain surgery or plastic surgery.” The doctor takes a gulp of air and reloads. “The problem in cosmetic plastic surgery, they can be done under a local anesthesia in an office facility, and the surgeon doing the procedures doesn’t have to go thru a credentialing process. A surgeon can borrow money from the bank and build a surgery center and commence doing plastic surgery type procedures, whether they are trained to do it or not. So it is buyer be ware situation.” Doctor Shack tells me that just because the woman’s dermatologist was board certified in dermatology, That does not mean that doctor was certified in plastic surgery. “When you go to some of these physicians who are claiming to be board certified, many of them are, but they are not certified by surgical specialty so, some of them are certified by the board of dermatology or family practice or as OBGYN. And there are dermatologists who do liposuction and do it well, but those are dermatologists who have had additional training in those types of dermatological procedures. Most of the other individuals who are not surgically trained have just taken weekend courses and have learned how to do procedures like liposuction which appear to be idiot-simple, a monkey could do it. In fact, the procedures are simple to do, but to get good results it requires a fair amount of finesse. Some experience and training in these procedures is critical.” I ask him whether a nurse doing the lion’s share of the procedure is a concern. His eyes widen as his brain fills with all the possible things he wants to say. “Nurses are not really credentialed to do surgical procedures. They can do a lot of things, and they are important part of the team. In any physicians office or hospital nurses are critical, but most nurses are not trained to do surgery.” “could she have extra credentials that allow her to perform such a procedure?” I ask. “To my knowledge, there are no nursing credentials for surgical procedures. Now there are for minimally invasive procedures, like injections and things like that. Nurses can be credentialed to do those things. But to do actual surgical procedures, like cutting and sewing and liposuction, to my knowledge, there is no certification for nurses.” He mentioned that medicine can be a buyer be ware business. I ask him for some tips on what a person should look for when seeking this type of procedure. Ask some questions of your physician or surgeon. Ask if they are certified by the American board of plastic surgery. Ask if they are part of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Ask a surgeon if they have privileges to do these procedures in a hospital. Ask the doctor is they are on a hospital staff, and if the answer to that is no, then I would be wary. Patients can also ask how many of these procedures has the doctor done. Ask to see some before and after pictures of the procedure you are having. That is a reasonable request. Ask about the procedure and how it will affect you. Ask about cost. That certainly is an issue, but if you put your health at risk to cut corners, that might not be in your best interest. Ask what is the length of the procedure, what is the recovery time for the procedure, ask what can you as the patient expect as far as taking off from work and for how long. A check with the Tennessee department of health indicates that neither the doctor nor the nurse have any red flags in their file. State officials tell me that the nurse is licensed as an RN in Tennessee and she appears to be a resident of the state of Massachusetts. I ask the state health department officials if a nurse should be doing surgeries, as alleged by the patient. The officials are unsure and say that question raises questions and concerns that must be evaluated. My attempts to talk to the doctor go unanswered. I do talk to the doctor’s lawyer who essentially tells me that the doctor regrets the patient’s unhappiness with the results of her liposuction. The short letter indicates that the medical care provided by the doctor met accepted standards for the practice of medicine in this community. The doctor’s lawyer also makes sure I understand that the judicial system is designed to resolve complaints of this nature. The lawyer informs me that the woman retained an attorney, then chose not to pursue legal action. The time for pursuing her claim in a court of law has expired. My questions to the lawyer about the nurses relationship to the doctor and why a nurse would allegedly do the majority of a surgery like this go unanswered. At this juncture, we will keep this file open and present new developments in this case.

The woman has several reasons for telling her story, but ultimately I think she wants other patients to hear her cautionary tale.

The 26 year old is timid and her voice breaks with emotion as she recounts the events that lead to this interview.

The lights in the studio are off.

Her nervous face is barely illuminated by the purple hue that is the remnants of the old lottery set.

She says it all starts after she gives birth.

“I wanted some time for me and my husband. I wanted to travel. I wanted to be in shape. I worked out. It wasn’t coming off as easily as I wanted it to.”

That’s when the woman tells me that she begins looking at cosmetic liposuction surgery, a procedure that can easily cost over $6,000 when done by a board certified plastic surgeon.

$6,000! OUCH!

Like many of us shopping for anything, the woman begins to shop for less expensive alternatives.

That’s when someone tells her about a respected Middle Tennessee dermatologist who also does the procedure, for a fraction of the price.

“I went in for a consultation because I was referred to the doctor,” the woman says.

“The doctor said I was a perfect candidate for it, just to take off a few extra pounds in that problem area. She had a nurse that assisted, who flies in, and assists with the surgeries. The nurse worked with a plastic surgeon, obviously, somewhere.”

The woman says she is impressed by the dermatologist and agrees to the procedure which will cost $2,800 dollars. It will be done, she says, without general anesthesia and in the Doctor’s office. The doctor will tell her that is how the procedure can be done for $2,800 dollars.

The woman swallows hard.

“Once I got in there, I realized the nurse started the surgery and the doctor was not in there till the end, and I asked when the doctor was coming, she said a few minutes, and by the time the doctor came in she was done.”

The results were hardly what this one time physically fit woman was expecting.

“After a few weeks, I came back in and saw the doctor, who said, if there is a need for a touch up we’ll do it. Let’s wait a little longer. So we waited a few months. Then I came back in. The doctor said definitely you need a touch up, because there was not enough fat removed.”

The woman says she is hesitant but because of the money she has all ready spent and the demeanor of the Dermatologist, she agrees to a 2nd touch up procedure.

It will again take place in the doctor’s office and it will again be conducted by the same nurse.

“So the same nurse came in, and she is not very friendly. It comes across, like she is irritated.”

“How are you feeling at this point?” I ask.

“I don’t have the money to do another surgery. And I feel like I didn’t get the results I wanted, and neither did the doctor.”

The woman tells me that the nurse seems agitated while performing the touch up procedure. Surgery should be a calm time in a patient’s life. That is not how this woman sitting before me describes this 2nd procedure.

“The whole time I felt like she (the nurse) didn’t want to do it. I don’t know if she doesn’t get paid for the touch up session or what, but the whole time we were in there, you could feel the tension, she was upset that she had to be there. And then once again, the doctor came in when the nurse was done. I got wrapped and sent away.”

A few weeks go by and the woman is even more appalled by the results which show major indentions and spots in her stomach.

“I showed the doctor my concerns. I had indentions and spots all over me and lumps of fat, where not enough fat was taken out. The doctor said ok. You need six months to heal. Your body is going to change. And I waited six months. I did everything the doctor said to do. I waited six months and came back and I told the doctor these results are not satisfactory. They are horrible. Something has to be done! The doctor agreed, and suggested another touch up. I said I didn’t want them to touch me again.”

Her face veiled in a purple glow, I think I see a tear forming in the young woman’s eye.

Again she swallows and begins to tell me about going to 2 or 3 plastic surgeons to see if the damage could be corrected.

Surprisingly, the news is not good.

“They say it was not fixable. They could go in and take out the little bit of fat remaining, but they say it was scar tissue caused by trauma to the area. So it is permanent, and it causes knots and indentions. She took out too much fat. And you cannot put fat back in.”

The woman becomes emotional. She is obviously struggling with these terrible results. She tells me how it has affected her life.

“It has put the biggest strain on my marriage and my family. I am not the same mentally as I was 2 years ago. I am very insecure when it comes to my husband. My in securities bleed over into my family, because I am not as good a mom as I could be because I feel like I am taking time from my child.”

I ask her if she can go into public in a bathing suit.

Apparently this hits a raw nerve.

“I can’t. I have to wear clothes. Every vacation we have been on, I can’t wear a bathing suit, not even a one piece, because you still see, the lumps under the suit.”

She pauses, and sighs.

“It is hard. Every vacation, I have taken, I have to have a shirt on to get in the pool.”

The woman tells me that the dermatologist agreed that the procedure has an undesired result. The woman says the doctor agrees to refund the woman her $2,800 dollars. The woman tells the doctor she would like the doctor to kick in the extra money to help pay for a certified plastic surgeon to repair the damage.

“I told the doctor that all the plastic surgeons I had been to just to do the touch up to get the fat out, that was remaining, the scar tissue is not fixable, but to get the fat out, it will be $5,000 to 6,000 dollars. The doctor told me that I would get back my $2,800 dollars back to go toward the new surgery. Well that is just not acceptable to me. The doctor did acknowledge it was a problem, that it was not right, and said I should not be happy with the results.”

The woman says she retains an attorney who contacts the doctor. That is when the woman says the doctor instructs them not to contact the dermatologist office anymore.

More than a year passes and the woman’s legal options have expired.

I ask why the woman couldn’t press forward with her case. She says that it is expensive to file a lawsuit and line up medical experts and she didn’t have the resources to continue.

She tells me that under state law, patients like her have a year to file a lawsuit, and if they do not, then the statute of limitations expire.

In this case; the woman has apparently lost her right to sue the doctor for damages.

What do you want to say to the doctor I ask.

“I can’t believe the way the doctor runs the business. The doctor has ruined my life, putting the biggest strain on my marriage and my family. The doctor is trying to push me under the rug and act like it didn’t happen.”

The woman has this message for any prospective liposuction patient:

“Please, please don’t settle for anything just because it is cheaper. You have to go to a board certified plastic surgeon. If you can’t afford it don’t do it. It could ruin your life like it has done mine.”

I go to Vanderbilt Medical center and talk to a garrulous doctor who knows a thing or two about plastic surgery.

Dr. Bruce Shack is a board certified plastic surgeon with 28 years of experience.

Surrounded by a board room full of medical text books and Aesthetic magazines, I pick the brain of the hospital’s chairman of plastic surgery.

“You can do lipo with local anesthesia, and either pill sedation or intravenous. But In my practice I would not do a full abdominal lipo without more sedation than that. It is hard to do a good job. It is hard work.”

Dr. Shack looks at the photos of the woman. He doesn’t her pre op story, but if she is telling the truth, and these photos don’t lie, he sees many problems in the care she received.

“There has been a less than good result from the liposuction that she had. At the beginning, you have to say that complications can happen in even the best of situations even in the best of hands. Even the best trained plastic surgeon can have complications, but to minimize the risk it is Helpful for patients, seeking plastic surgery, whether it is reconstructive or cosmetic plastic surgery to understand the training and background of the surgeon they select and are they really qualified to do the procedure.”

The doctor is motoring though thoughts and medical jargon like a sports car ripping down Hwy 1 just north of Big Sur on the California Coast.

The more he wants to tell me, the more the flood gates of his medical mind open up trying to force feed me a lecture on the do’s and don’ts of liposuction.

He begins by condemning the loose laws that govern the Volunteer state.

“Unfortunately, in Tennessee, as in most states in this country, the license to practice medicine is an “unrestricted license” meaning that if you are a licensed physician in the state of Tennessee, you can pretty much do what you want to do as far as medicine, and surgery. But what has protected patients in the past, is the hospitals had supplied a credentialing process, for a surgeon or a physician for that matter to do a procedure, within the confines of that hospital. They had to go through a rigorous examination by the credentials committee. To make certain that they’re training and they’re credentials were in order. To allow them to do the procedures whether it was hearth surgery or brain surgery or plastic surgery.”

The doctor takes a gulp of air and reloads.

“The problem in cosmetic plastic surgery, they can be done under a local anesthesia in an office facility, and the surgeon doing the procedures doesn’t have to go thru a credentialing process. A surgeon can borrow money from the bank and build a surgery center and commence doing plastic surgery type procedures, whether they are trained to do it or not. So it is buyer be ware situation.”

Doctor Shack tells me that just because the woman’s dermatologist was board certified in dermatology, That does not mean that doctor was certified in plastic surgery.

“When you go to some of these physicians who are claiming to be board certified, many of them are, but they are not certified by surgical specialty so, some of them are certified by the board of dermatology or family practice or as OBGYN. And there are dermatologists who do liposuction and do it well, but those are dermatologists who have had additional training in those types of dermatological procedures. Most of the other individuals who are not surgically trained have just taken weekend courses and have learned how to do procedures like liposuction which appear to be idiot-simple, a monkey could do it. In fact, the procedures are simple to do, but to get good results it requires a fair amount of finesse. Some experience and training in these procedures is critical.”

I ask him whether a nurse doing the lion’s share of the procedure is a concern. His eyes widen as his brain fills with all the possible things he wants to say.

“Nurses are not really credentialed to do surgical procedures. They can do a lot of things, and they are important part of the team. In any physicians office or hospital nurses are critical, but most nurses are not trained to do surgery.”

“could she have extra credentials that allow her to perform such a procedure?” I ask.

“To my knowledge, there are no nursing credentials for surgical procedures. Now there are for minimally invasive procedures, like injections and things like that. Nurses can be credentialed to do those things. But to do actual surgical procedures, like cutting and sewing and liposuction, to my knowledge, there is no certification for nurses.”

He mentioned that medicine can be a buyer be ware business. I ask him for some tips on what a person should look for when seeking this type of procedure.

  1. Ask some questions of your physician or surgeon.
  2. Ask if they are certified by the American board of plastic surgery.
  3. Ask if they are part of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  4. Ask a surgeon if they have privileges to do these procedures in a hospital.
  5. Ask the doctor is they are on a hospital staff, and if the answer to that is no, then I would be wary.
  6. Patients can also ask how many of these procedures has the doctor done.
  7. Ask to see some before and after pictures of the procedure you are having. That is a reasonable request.
  8. Ask about the procedure and how it will affect you.
  9. Ask about cost. That certainly is an issue, but if you put your health at risk to cut corners, that might not be in your best interest.
  10. Ask what is the length of the procedure, what is the recovery time for the procedure, ask what can you as the patient expect as far as taking off from work and for how long.

A check with the Tennessee department of health indicates that neither the doctor nor the nurse have any red flags in their file.

State officials tell me that the nurse is licensed as an RN in Tennessee and she appears to be a resident of the state of Massachusetts.

I ask the state health department officials if a nurse should be doing surgeries, as alleged by the patient. The officials are unsure and say that question raises questions and concerns that must be evaluated.

My attempts to talk to the doctor go unanswered.

I do talk to the doctor’s lawyer who essentially tells me that the doctor regrets the patient’s unhappiness with the results of her liposuction. The short letter indicates that the medical care provided by the doctor met accepted standards for the practice of medicine in this community.

The doctor’s lawyer also makes sure I understand that the judicial system is designed to resolve complaints of this nature. The lawyer informs me that the woman retained an attorney, then chose not to pursue legal action. The time for pursuing her claim in a court of law has expired.

My questions to the lawyer about the nurses relationship to the doctor and why a nurse would allegedly do the majority of a surgery like this go unanswered.

At this juncture, we will keep this file open and present new developments in this case.

Categories:
Blog News