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Liposuction-Related Death And Finding A Safe Doctor

From the Chicago Tribune:

A 35-year-old woman who wanted to resculpt herself for the new year with liposuction and a buttocks enhancement is dead from apparent complications of plastic surgery, her husband and lawyer said Thursday. Miami customer service representative Lidvian Zelaya died Monday, hours after the operation began at Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics Institute, a busy cosmetic surgery practice in Lauderhill. Zelaya went to Strax to have fat suctioned from her back and belly, and to have the material injected into her backside, family representatives said. She chose Strax because she got a good deal. Aronfeld said the operation was to be done by Dr. Roger L. Gordon. He was disciplined by the state in connection with two plastic surgery deaths in 2004.

This is getting ridiculous. Liposuction deaths have been frequent in the media as of late. And this surgeon, Roger L. Gordon, M.D., is a real, board-certified plastic surgeon as per the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Then again, plastic surgery IS surgery and therefore has risk associated with it. Was this an unfortunate accident or something else? How can a potential patient choose well to limit the risk of cosmetic surgery?

I put up a brief surgeon credentialing section on my site years ago, and there is a section where you can look up the doctor on the ABMS site. There is also a section on checking the doctor with the state medical board. In this case, the state medical board is represented online by the Florida Department of Health. Most state medical boards have listings where doctors can be checked. Medical board disciplinary actions and malpractice case settlements are sometimes included in these listings.

When we type in “Roger L Gordon” into the Florida Department of Health site, we get a listing showing eight public complaints and three board disciplinary actions. I’d say that is a red flag.

There is no one criterion that tells you a doctor is going to be okay, and Dr. Gordon might not have done anything wrong in this case. But there is a need for patients to be informed about the training and history of a potential surgeon. Do you think this patient might have chosen differently if she had known this before her operation?

- John Di Saia, M.D.

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*


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One Response to “Liposuction-Related Death And Finding A Safe Doctor”

  1. Samiksha Tondon says:

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