Las Vegas Plastic Surgery
I was quoted in a recent Associated Press article about a tragic death of a cosmetic surgery patient in Las Vegas. The story made national and international news. As a board certified plastic surgeon with a professional practice in Las Vegas, I was asked to comment about the roles of patient well-being and tumescent anesthesia during operative procedures. Tumescent anesthesia, a technique for delivery of local anesthesia that maximizes safety, is used to numb specific parts on a patient’s body. Unlike general anesthesia, it does not put the patient to sleep.
The AP story relates to yet another unfortunate tale of a patient undergoing a buttocks injection cosmetic procedure performed by an unlicensed practitioner in an uncertified location. In this case, a husband and wife injected silicone into the buttocks of a patient. The procedure was done in the back of a Las Vegas tile shop. The patient was not doing well, and the husband and wife put her in a car and let her out on a street corner. The patient, Elena Caro, 42 pleaded for help from passers-by on the street. An ambulance took her to the hospital, where she died soon after. The husband and wife were apprehended at the airport, trying to board a plane back to their home in Columbia.
The couple were originally charged with murder, but they have offered a plea deal where lesser charges will be applied.
The coroner found that the cause of death was an overdose of Lidocaine, a numbing medicine, used in a tumescent anesthesia solution.
My statements about tumescent anesthesia in the AP article can be read here:
“It decreases the pain and it decreases the bruising,” said Dr. Jeffrey Roth, a Las Vegas plastic surgeon who also uses general anesthesia on patients to ensure they don’t feel any pain and monitors their progress with the help of a certified anesthetist. “In other words, we are not going to do surgery in the back of a tile shop.”
Roth said patients who seek cosmetic surgery need to ensure they are receiving proper care.
“The whole tragedy of this whole thing was that this poor woman went to somebody who was not licensed,” Roth said. “This poor lady may have saved a few dollars, but it cost her her life.”
This tragedy again underscores the importance of taking procedures seriously and checking the credentials of practitioners and facilities. Complications can happen to anyone. Board certified plastic surgeons have had years of training and experience and are trained to identify and manage untoward events, or better yet identify them before there is an issue. Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, (ASPS), must operate in certified surgical suites. Let us hope this be the last tragedy in a series of similar stories.
Jeffrey J. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.
CBS News courtesy of the Associated Press
Yahoo News courtesy of the Associated Press