Plastic surgery risks, deaths, and medical malpractice

I’ve  learned a lot of things from the plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery medical malpractice cases that I’ve handled over the years.

It seems like everywhere I go, I see a lot of plastic and cosmetic surgery ads. I was recently in Miami, and it was no different. I saw several billboards promoting plastic surgery practices, featuring fit and beautiful bodies, and implying that you could be that way too, with their help.

USA Today published an in-depth investigative piece about a particular plastic surgery facility in Miami. It provides some take-away lessons that people considering plastic or cosmetic surgery should keep in mind.

The reporters investigated a Miami clinic and a nearby surgical facility overseen by the same doctor. Together, they account for eight deaths in a five-year period. Putting that in perspective, that’s about 20% of all plastic surgery deaths in Florida. It’s an incredible statistic for state with nearly 21 million people.

Inexperienced doctors. The Miami owner of the clinic and surgical facility allowed doctors with no plastic surgery training or credentials to perform dangerous cosmetic surgeries.

Did you know that any licensed physician in Texas can perform surgeries, so long as the hospital or surgical center allows them to do so? In other words, Texas law and medical regulations do not require advanced training in surgery.

Before you agree to any treatment by a physician, I recommend checking out his or her credentials on the Texas Medical Board website. This free website has an abundance of information, including whether the doctor is licensed to practice in Texas, plus medical school, residency, and board certification information.

Owning the practice and the surgical facility. The same Miami physician owned both a plastic surgery clinic and the outpatient ambulatory surgery center. USA Today reports that he allowed inexperienced physicians with no surgical training to perform cosmetic surgery at the surgery center.

If your surgeon recommends doing an elective procedure at a surgery center (or doesn’t give you another option), ask if he or she has an ownership interest in it. I think full disclosure is in every patient’s best interest.

Brazilian butt lifts. Multiple medical studies have warned against the dangers of the surgery. Get ready to be shocked—this entirely elective procedure has an estimated death rate of about one in 3000 surgeries.

Four women died after having Brazilian butt lift procedures at the Miami surgery center. Doctors had mistakenly injected body fat into the wrong place. By injecting body fat deep into the muscles, they tore blood vessels, allowing fat to accumulate in patients’ hearts and lungs, killing them quickly.

Assembly lines. Multiple patients in the Miami practice described sitting in crowded waiting rooms for hours. Some patients didn’t even meet their doctor until just before their operations. I recommend always having a face-to-face visit with your doctor or surgeon before going forward with any elective procedure.

Many of my plastic surgery clients have informed me that the offices of the plastic surgeons looked like an assembly line. Lots of people were waiting in the lobby at all times. Even after surgery, some surgeons do post-operative visits with groups of patients, rather than one at a time. If you don’t fit the cookie-cutter mould, you may be in for trouble.

Follow-up care and complications. Many patients had to go to the emergency room because of post-operative complications. The doctors were so busy running patients through the operating room, it was hard to make time for patients after the surgeries.

Changing names. USA Today reports that the doctor and facility were the subject of many complications, patient deaths, and complaints to the Attorney General. In response, the owner repeatedly changed the names. Since 2014 alone, the same cosmetic surgery clinic has gone by three different names.

Social media, advertising, and prices. The Miami plastic surgery practice put a lot of time and effort into a social media presence. Social media gave them a great opportunity to benefit from re-naming and re-branding. According to USA Today, when a reporter called and asked the facility if it used to be known by a different name, a staff member denied it.

Plus, the clinic advertised procedures at a fraction of the price of more reputable practices. There’s an old saying that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In my experience, plastic surgeons know the going rate in a community for their services. If you find someone is on the extreme cheap end, tread carefully.

Long surgeries. My most recent plastic surgery case was in Dallas, where a middle-aged woman went to a surgical facility for multiple elective cosmetic procedures. She died a few days later from blood clots. Our plastic surgery expert concluded that one of the main problems is that her cosmetic surgeon recommended going forward with so many procedures at one time. The longer a patient is immobile and under general anesthesia, the higher the risk that dangerous, life-threatening blood clots may form in the deep veins of the legs. If they develop and aren’t treated properly, clots can come loose, causing a pulmonary embolism and death.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by plastic or cosmetic surgical care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

All consultations are free and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.


Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.