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Archive for the ‘plastic surgery’ Category

The answer is “NO” for several disfigured patients in Australia, who later found out that a loophole in Australian licensing laws allowed Dentists and other medical (nonsurgeons) professionals to claim use of the title of ‘cosmetic surgeon’ without any formalized training or certification in plastic and reconstructive surgery (or even any surgery specialty at all).

In this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, Melissa Davey explains how dentists and other nonsurgical personnel skirted around laws designed to protect patients from exactly this sort of deceptive practice, and how this resulted in harm to several patients.

As readers will recall – we previously discussed several high-profile cases of similar instances in the United States, including a doctor charged in the deaths of several patients from his medical negligence.  In that case, a ‘homeopathic’  and “self-proclaimed” plastic surgeon, Peter Normann was criminally indicted in the intra-operative deaths of several of his patients.  The patients died while he was performing liposuction due to improper intubation techniques.

But at least, in both of the cases above – the people performing the procedures, presumably, had at a minimum, some training in a medical/ quasi-medical field..

Surgeon or a handyman

More frightening, is the ‘handyman’ cases that have plagued Las Vegas and several other American cities – where untrained smooth operators have preyed primarily on the Latino community – injecting cement, construction grade materials and even floor wax into their victims.

How to protect yourself from shady characters?  In our post, “Liposuction in a Myrtle Beach Apartment” we discuss some of the ways to verify a surgeon’s credentials.  We also talk about how not to be fooled by fancy internet ads and the like.  (Even savvy consumers can be fooled by circular advertisements designed to look like legitimate research articles as well as bogus credentials/ or ‘for-hire’ credentials*. )

*We will talk about some of the sketchy credentials in another post – but the field is growing, by leaps and bounds..More and more fly-by-night agencies are offering ‘credentials’ for a hefty fee (and not much else.)

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Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I returned to see Dr. Victor Ramirez.  I had enjoyed talking to him during the first interview back in November of 2011, but as most people know – a lot had happened since then.  It took me a couple of weeks to re-connect with the now somewhat wary and (media-weary) surgeon, but when I did – he didn’t hesitate to invite me to the operating room.  And then – after the first case, he immediately invited me back**.

Dr. Victor Ramirez, plastic surgeon

For readers unfamiliar with the concept of my work – let me tell you, this is usually an excellent prognostic indicator.  It’s certainly not fail-proof – but as a general rule; when a surgeon invites you to his operating room, he is generally confident because he is a good surgeon. 

You’ll notice a couple of things about the statement above – when the surgeon invites me, is important.  Often when I have to ask – it’s because the surgeons are hesitant to let me watch.  Most (but not all of the time) – there is a good reason that a surgeon doesn’t want an observer in their operating room.  (And there are a multitude of reasons – not just a poorly skilled surgeon.)

But there are certainly no absolutes.  I have met fantastic surgeons who initially were not crazy about the idea (but quickly warmed up to it) and I have met less than skilled surgeons who happily encouraged me to visit – and everything in-between.. I’ve visited great surgeons who were hampered by poor facilities, unskilled staff, or limited resources.  That’s why the on-site, operating room visit is so important.  Anything less, is well – less than the full picture.

But back to Dr. Victor Ramirez – in the quirofano (operating room) performing surgery.

Dr. Victor Ramirez, Dr. Perez and Ricardo (RN)

I observed Dr. Ramirez operating at two different facilities – Hospital Quirurgico del Valle, and the Bellus clinic.  Hospital Quirurogico is a private hospital – with excellent operating room facilities.  While there are only two operating rooms, both rooms are large, well-lit, new, and very well equipped.  There are three separate ‘big screen’ tv sized monitors for video-assisted procedures – so if you are looking for a facility for video-assisted procedures such as endoscopy, laparoscopy or thoracoscopy – this is the place.  All the equipment was modern, in new or ‘near-new’ condition.  As a facility specifically designed as a surgical hospital – with private rooms, patients are segregated from ‘medical patients’ with infectious conditions.  (The facility is not designed for pneumonia patients, and other medical type hospitalizations.)

Dr. Ramirez applied the sequential stockings himself (kendall pneumatic devices), and supervised all patient preparations.  Patients received a combination of conscious sedation, and epidural analgesia – so they were awake, but comfortable during the procedures.  (This eliminates many of the risks associated with general anesthesia – and reduces other risks.)  The anesthesiologist himself, Dr. Luis Perez Fernandez, MD was excellent – attentive and on top of the situation at all times.  There was no hypoxia or hemodynamic instability during either of the cases.  (I have been favorably impressed by several of the anesthesiologists here in Mexicali.)

Dr. Perez monitors his patient closely

As for the surgery itself – everything proceeded in textbook fashion – sterility was maintained, and Dr. Ramirez demonstrated excellent surgical techniques.

For example – One of the signs of ‘good’ liposuction (and good preparation) is the color of the fat removed.  Ideally, it should be golden or light pink in color.  Over-aggressive liposuction or poorly prepped liposuction results in more bleeding.  As I watched fat being removed – the fat remained golden-yellow in the suction tubing, and even at the conclusion of the procedure, the accumulated suction canister contents remained just slightly tinged pink.

Results were cosmetically pleasing in both cases with minimal trauma to the patients***- but there will be more details forthcoming in the free book (since the post is becoming pretty long, and may be more detail than casual readers would like.)  I’ll have more information about the doctors, including the anesthesiologists, the clinics and the procedures themselves..

I did want to post some specifics – especially in this case, as the patient told me that her/his parent is a retired physician and had concerns about surgical conditions.

Mom, Dad – you don’t have to worry – Dr. Ramirez runs an excellent OR. Even in the tiny Bellus clinic, there is a full crash cart, a defibrillator and an emergency intubation cart – just in case.

**Given what I know about Dr. Ramirez, I am pretty confident – that if I wanted – I’d be there right now, and every day for a month, or until I said, “stop”..  That’s the kind of person Dr. Ramirez is.

*** In some liposuction cases – the patients appear as if they have been beaten (extensive bruising) due to the amount of trauma and force used during the procedure.

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It sounds awful to say but it’s a good thing my husband has been out-of-town this week – after all, considering my week in the operating room, he wouldn’t have seen much of me anyway!  But it always drives him a little crazy to see me racing from interviews to operating rooms – stumbling home late, with aching legs and a rumbling tummy, only to climb out of bed and the crack of dawn just to do it again.. then worry that I somehow won’t have time to write it all down – and round and round..  (That being said – he is phenomenal about understanding this driving motivation I have to interview, and to write – even when I’m not quite sure I understand myself.)

So he wouldn’t have complained about my whirlwind tours of the operating rooms this week – or the long days of back-to-back surgery but I would have felt bad about not seeing him all the same..

Instead with my husband thousands of miles away, I hear him smiling in the phone, laughing at my exploits, though I sometimes picture the wrinkle he gets in his brow when he thinks I’m not eating right, or getting enough sleep.. He currently serves as my remote editor for my articles at Examiner.com – calling to give feedback before submission.  He’ll be home soon – and he’ll be patient with me, as always.

Dr. Victor Ramirez, plastic surgeon

Had some great interviews and operating visits this week – including Dr. Victor Ramirez, and most of the plastic surgery community here in Mexicali – but to be fair, I will break it all up into a couple of posts.

Demonstration of techniques for breast reconstruction at Mexicali General

Back in my ‘home’ OR in thoracic surgery – which felt good.  I love meeting and seeing all the different specialties like bariatrics, urology and plastics, but it sure does feel good to come back home again..

back in thoracics (and trying to hang from the rafters)

I could wax some eloquent nonsense about the beauty of a muscle-sparing thoracotomy but then again – the good doc does almost everything minimally invasive, so I never see any.. (and you’ve heard me crow about dual port thoracoscopy.)

with more to come..

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Kim Kardashian on the red carpet – photo credit unknown

Looks like Dr. Victor Ramirez, the plastic surgeon in Mexicali that we previously interviewed here has ignited a firestorm of controversy by using the unauthorized likeness of Kim Kardashian (of reality television fame) to advertise his surgical skills.

While I don’t condone this behavior – the irony of the situation is unmistakable since Ms. Kardashian first shot to fame (and public attention) through public exposure of another sort entirelyIn fact, she along with Paris Hilton are two of the very ‘celebutards’ that popular media love to exploit while simultaneously decrying their actions.

Mexicali ad courtesy of Perez Hilton.com

Is the outrage against Dr. Ramirez, expressed by Kim Kardashian based on true or genuine anger or frustration against unwanted (and unpaid!) advertising, or just another slick publicity stunt in the wake of negative public sentiments regarding her highly profitable (yet amazing brief) marriage?  Even now, tales of her bickering and fighting over money with her ex still dominate the internet, tv and gossip columns..

Especially since the timing coincides nicely with the opening of her new lingerie line, the Kardashian Kollection..

Ms. Kardashian’s recent twitter pix,

Now, I’ve never met Ms. Kardashian, and I’m sure this situation might be aggravating, but at the same time – isn’t it just a bit flattering too?  That other people might choose to have a surgical procedure so that they can attempt to mimic your beauty?  If I were Kim – I’d sit down with Dr. Ramirez and work out some sort of agreement – for advertisements and endorsements..  But, wait..

Isn’t this the same woman who sued Old Navy for hiring a model for looking “too much” like her?

But then again – I’m just a nurse.

I’ve emailed Dr. Ramirez for his side of the story, (for more about the real Dr. Victor Ramirez – read our post here).

More on this story – elsewhere on the net

Fox News

Orange County Register

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Syringe of unknown contents

 

 

 

Dr. Fix-a-flat (Oneal Morris) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has been re-arrested as more victims of his scam surgeries have come forward.

This arrest comes as other American cities, (most notably, Las Vegas) make a concerted push to protect consumers with a new campaign against fraudulent practices and unlicensed physicians.  However, these ‘campaigns’ are primarily informational commercials aimed at the Latino community.

There is a new statewide task force aimed at addressing these incidents, but as of yet – there have been no legislative changes to protect victims of these scams.  Equally disturbing, in at least one of these cases – one of the pretend doctors used his fake status to sexually assault his victims.

In another disturbing sidenote out of Nevada – Teva pharmaceuticals settled a case against them for the distribution of propofol outside of proper channels/ and in improper quantities.  (If you remember, this is how Dr. Conrad Murray obtained the anesthetic for use on Michael Jackson.)  As a result of this distribution of multi-use medications that should be exclusively used in hospital settings – several patients were inadvertently exposed to Hepatitis C (including the plaintiff who developed Hepatitis C as a result.)

[Multi-use vials mean that the same container of medication is used for multiple people – if the medication is drawn up using needles or other instruments that have already been exposed to patients – this places future patients in contact with blood and infectious agents.]   Multi-use vials are a cost-containment measure for many institutions.

I hope that someone takes issue with out-patient colonoscopies as a whole since this in itself can be a very dangerous practice – and the research proves it.  (The issue behind outpatient procedures such as colonoscopies is the use of unmonitored anesthesia.  Most patients aren’t on monitors, no anesthesiologist is present, and the doctors performing the procedure are often unprepared in the event that a patient loses his airway (or stops breathing.)  There was a landmark study several years ago – that showed that 70% of nonaesthesiologists underestimated the level of sedation in patients undergoing out-patient / office procedures.  [I will continue looking for the link to this source.]

Frighteningly, a related paper demonstrated similar findings in a pediatric population.  This South African paper voices similar concerns.

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While extreme plastic surgery makeovers (or multiple plastic surgery procedures at once) make for great television – they aren’t safe.  Prolonged (multi-hour, multi-procedure) surgeries place patients at greater risk of complications from anesthesia, bleeding, etc.  These ‘Mommy Makeovers’ sound like a good idea to patients – one surgery, less money and faster results – but the truth is – they just aren’t a good or safe idea.

Now an article by Laura Newman, [originally published  in Dermatol Surg. 2012;38:171-179] and re-posted at Medscape.com drives home that fact.

Combination Cosmetic Surgeries, General Anesthesia Drive AEs

February 9, 2012 — The use of general anesthesia, the performance of liposuction under general anesthesia, and a combination of surgical procedures significantly increase the risk for adverse events (AEs) in office-based surgery, according to reviews of statewide mandatory AE reporting in Florida and Alabama. More than two thirds of deaths and three quarters of hospital transfers were associated with cosmetic surgery performed under general anesthesia, according to an article published in the February issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

The study, derived from 10-year data from Florida and 6-year data from in Alabama, “confirms trends that have been previously identified in earlier analyses of this data,” write the authors, led by John Starling III, MD, from the Skin Cancer Center, Cincinnati, and the Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In a companion commentary, C. William Hanke, MD, from the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana, Indianapolis, presses for 3 patient safety practices: “(1) Keep the patient awake!… 2) Think twice before supporting a patient’s desire for liposuction that is to be done in conjunction with abdominoplasty under general anesthesia…. 3) “[B]e advocates for prospective, mandatory, verifiable adverse event reporting…[that] should include data from physician offices, ambulatory surgical centers, and hospitals to define and quantify problems that can be largely prevented and eliminated.”

The authors and editorialist are especially critical of liposuction performed under general anesthesia. The study revealed that although liposuction is perhaps one of the most common cosmetic surgical procedures, no deaths occurred in the setting of local anesthesia. “Liposuction under general anesthesia accounted for 32% of cosmetic procedure-related deaths and 22% of all cosmetic procedure-related complications,” the researchers write.

The researchers analyzed mandatory physician AE reports in ambulatory surgery submitted to their respective states, encompassing 10-year data in Florida and 6-year data in Alabama. A total of 309 AEs were reported during an office-based surgery during the 10-year period in Florida, including 46 deaths and 263 reportable complications or transfers to hospital. Cosmetic surgeries performed under general anesthesia accounted for the vast majority of deaths in Florida, with liposuction and abdominoplasty the most frequent procedures.

Six years’ worth of data from Alabama revealed 52 AEs, including 49 complications or hospital transfers and 3 deaths. General anesthesia was implicated in 89% of reported incidents; 42% were cosmetic surgeries. Pulmonary complications, including pulmonary emboli and pulmonary edema, were implicated in many deaths in both states.

Plastic surgeons were linked to nearly 45% of all reported complications in Florida and 42.3% in Alabama, write the researchers. Office accreditation, physician board certification, and hospital privileges all revealed no clear pattern.

One limitation acknowledged by the authors is that case logs of procedures performed under general and intravenous sedation are required in Florida, but are not public domain, and so were unavailable for analysis. In addition, investigators were not able to obtain data on the total number of liposuction procedures performed in either state. The lack of those data prevented them from calculating the overall fatality rate.

As readers of my previous publications know, the majority of surgeons I interviewed expressly do not perform multiple procedures during one surgery.  Also, many of them perform the majority of their procedures under conscious sedation with local anesthesia (which means you are awake, but you don’t care – and you don’t feel anything).

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More scary news for women around the globe – as the manufacturer, PIP discloses frightening information regarding their defective implants.  It has been discovered that the company knew that the implants were defective since 2005 – but continued to sell the implants for use world-wide, particularly in Latin America.

More disturbingly, this manufacturer did not use medical grade materials – instead opting for cheaper, construction grade chemicals including petroleum and fuel additives, components which have never been tested for [internal] human use.  The health effects of exposure to these materials is unknown.  The risks associated with the use of these materials is enhanced due to the high rate of rupture among this brand of implant.  These chemicals certainly have carcinogenic potential and the implications for thousands and thousands of women are terrifying.

French officials have urged women to have their implants surgically removed.

A preliminary search of PubMed and other published research shows mixed results – and primarily discusses the results of exposure to benzene (and other petroleum derivatives) via water contamination, or occupational exposure.   (In fact, only limited information is available regarding the safety of breast implants in general, and the material is fairly dated.)

As we stated in a previous story, while researching Bogota! and interviewing plastic surgeons – I investigated the types of implants used by the surgeons profiled in the book.  (None of the surgeons used this company’s implants at the time of my interviews in Winter/ Spring 2011).

Update:  In fact, the Colombian government has offered to pay for the removal of PIP implants.  More on this story here.

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