Several patient deaths at South Florida plastic surgery clinics have led physicians to express their concerns that these deaths are only part of a bigger trend that has left numerous women disfigured and disabled. Board certified plastic surgeons Pat Pazmino and Daniel Careaga said questionable business practices performed at discount surgery centers have put patients at risk.
Marisol Ordonez said she still suffers the aftereffects of what happened to her while under the knife at Jolie Plastic Surgery in August 2017. The woman claimed she was permanently injured after undergoing a liposuction procedure to transfer fat to her buttocks, commonly refer to as a Brazilian butt lift.
“The memory loss, the panic attacks, the anxiety. I’m not the same,” she explained.
“My client left the facility, still under sedation, and she could not feel her extremities,” her attorney, Andres Beregovich, said.
“Literally they threw me in the back of my car,” added Ordonez. The patient was still under anesthesia when employees at the cosmetic center put her in the back seat of her husband’s car.
In the hours and days after her surgery, she said she lost feeling in her arms and legs, then the left side of her face became paralyzed. She returned to the clinic several times, only to be told by her doctor, Jonathan Fisher, that she was experiencing side effects of anesthesia. Unable to find definitive answers to her medical issues, she eventually she went to see a neurologist.
“As soon as she saw me, she goes, ‘What are you doing here?’” Ordonez said. The neurologist told Ordonez she had suffered a stroke. “They put me in ICU, hospitalized for a month.”
Media crews in South Florida went undercover at discount centers to investigate the matter, and at Jolie, where Ordonez underwent her procedure, the woman at the front desk was the same individual who did the consultation. She quoted a price for surgery and asked for a $500 deposit.
“They are recommending a treatment plan, and they are now charging for it,” Careaga said of the centers. “And that is considered practicing medicine without a license.”
The pre-operation manager at Jolie, Claudia Puentes, responded to the investigation:
“Jolie Plastic Surgery requires that all patients be medically cleared for surgery, before arriving at our facility for the Preoperative appointment. The day of pre-op patients will be evaluated by their surgeon, if for any reason the patient is unable to see their surgeon on the day of the preoperative appointment, one of our skilled nurse practitioners will do initial assessment and consultation with the patient, by the determination of the surgeon. The patient will also have a thorough assessment, done by one of our anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist, also known as CRNA. The final decision is made when the surgeon and potential patient have a face-to-face consultation, approximately 3-4 hours prior to surgery. In other words, the patient will undergo 3 assessments by our qualified medical professionals, prior to undergoing surgery.”
At Seduction by Jardon & Cosmetic in Doral, the individual undercover experienced a similar sequence of events. She was briefly evaluated before staff pushed her to make a deposit to lock in the price. An attorney representing Seduction, Carlos Santisteban Jr., responded:
“No diagnosis is made during any initial consultation. The purpose of this initial consultation is to generally evaluate whether the subject patient’s expectations can be met. For example, a popular procedure is liposuction with fat transfer. Not every patient is qualified for this procedure and this pre-qualification can be determined in the initial consultation. Assuming the patient and the doctor are satisfied with the results of this initial consultation, then the patient is asked to execute a contract with our company and a tentative surgery date is reserved for the patient. At this time, the patient is required to give a $500.00 non-refundable deposit.”
At no point was a doctor involved in consultations at either of the centers, even though down payments were requested.
Ordonez gave her non-refundable deposit the day of her consultation and later returned for blood work. She only met with her doctor at the time of surgery. She is now permanently on medication to prevent another stroke and still unable to use her left arm.
“I forget a lot of things. I constantly have anxieties,” she said. “This really turned my life around, completely.”
Jolie went by the name Eres in 2017. Before that, it was called Vanity. After each patient death came another rebranding.