A recent death illustrates the importance of investigating your cosmetic surgeon, says Dr. Mark Scheinberg from the Center for Cosmetic Laser Gynecology. Lidvian Zelaya, 35, underwent a procedure for abdominal liposuction and buttocks injections at the Strax Rejuvenation Clinic in south Florida.
She was rushed to the hospital, but died only a few hours after the start of the procedure. Investigations of public records by ABC News reveal that Dr. Roger L. Gordon, Zelaya’s plastic surgeon at Strax, has had 20 lawsuits filed against him since 2004. He was placed on probation by the Maryland Board of Physicians for undisclosed reasons and he had his staff privileges terminated by the Florida Medical Center. The Sun Sentinal revealed that Gordon was disciplined by the state in connection with two deaths in 2004.
“If you’re choosing a plastic surgeon, you want to do your homework,” says Scheinberg. “You’re entrusting them with your body – and your life. You need a doctor you can have confidence in.”
Scheinberg has been board certified in obstetrics and gynecology since 1981 and has performed over 10,000 surgical procedures. Scheinberg has received 100s of hours of training with Professor Adam Ostrzenski, M.D. Ph.D., a pioneer in safe, effectivevaginal reconstruction and cosmetic vaginal surgery.
Zalaya’s cause of death is under investigation, but she was declared healthy enough for surgery by doctors at the Strax Clinic. “I think it’s an inherent conflict of interest if you are getting screened by the surgeon who wants to do the procedure,” said Spencer Aronfeld, a malpractice attorney retained by Zalaya’s husband, Osvaldo Vargas.
Vargas has been publicizing the case as a way of warning others to investigate their cosmetic surgeons. In particular, he is urging patients to get a second pre-operative examination by an independent doctor. He said that Zelaya chose the Strax Clinic because she got a good deal on the procedure.
“You don’t want to rush into this kind of decision or select the doctor who offers you the lowest cost,” notes Scheinberg. “You want someone who has a long record of success with the procedure you are getting. Complaints and disciplinary actions against doctors are part of the public record. Patients can and should look this information up.”