Linda Dunn trusted word of mouth, when she decided to get liposuction, and she trusted the doctor whom she didn't meet until the day of the procedure.
"The doctor said no, we can't do it, you need a tummy tuck," Linda Dunn said. "I had to make a decision right then and there. I probably should have done a little more research on the actual doctor that did it."
Linda was lucky, despite her lack of research, her tummy tuck and lipo turned out fine. She's happy with the results. "I didn't have any problems but I didn't really have anything to compare it to."
Unfortunately, several Valley women do.
Last month, Visalia Pediatrician Preeti Verma was placed on probation for the next seven years by the Medical Board of California for "gross negligence" "repeated negligent acts" and "incompetence."
A medical board document describes how after a three-day training course in the use of the SmartLipo machine, Dr. Verma began performing SmartLipo procedures at Uvati Laser and Skin Care Clinic in Visalia. But according to several of Dr. Verma's patients the procedure left them with dead tissue, hospitalization, contour deformities, and large scars as seen in photos.
Action News went to Dr. Verma's home in Visalia to ask her about the complaints.
Dr. Verma: "I have nothing to say about that."
Two of her patients sought out Dr. Mark Chin -- who estimated the cost to repair the damage to their bodies at $100 thousand each.
"Some of the worst I've seen, and I've seen a lot. And it was as if, just keep on sucking, and sucking until there was no more fat," Dr. Mark Chin said. "I see patients who need help and they spend so much, they've undergone so much and they can't go back to the other doctor."
Just a few years ago, a fake Botox doctor practicing in Clovis made national headlines after injecting what was likely industrial-grade silicon.
Sandra Gonzales and the others were left with hard lumps that feel like rocks under their skin. "It's made me real self-conscious. I wear bangs now because I wanna hide it."
Dr. Mark Chin said, "I had to operate on one patient at least three or four times in order to get some of this material out of her face."
Mario Nieves Perez was arrested on 29 criminal charges but police believe he fled to Mexico.
The internet is a powerful tool when it comes to checking out your doctor's credentials. Start with the Medical Board of California to check your doctor's license. Is it current, are there any disciplinary actions? Then check the American Board of Medical Specialties to see if your doctor is board certified and in what exactly. Because there is no law that mandates a doctor to practice only within their field of specialty.
"It's probably more common than you think," Dr. Mark Chin said. "For example, I saw a patient who had liposuction by a psychiatrist. Typically that's not thought of as a surgical specialty. I've seen breast augmentations done by dermatologists, oral surgeons, EMT's."
Dr. Mark Chin says anyone with a medical license but not necessarily the expertise, can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon. Whereas aesthetic plastic surgeons are plastic and reconstructive surgeons who specialize in these procedures and undergo at least seven years of training.
Regardless, Dr. Mark Chin warns a doctor should perform or supervise any treatments. These are medical treatments, not spa treatments, and they need to be done in a medical setting, either by a doctor or at least with a doctor on the premises supervising.