7 On Your Side: Did liposuction patients get quality care?
Have you been thinking about a tummy tuck or a face lift? Cosmetic surgery is a $16 billion-dollar business in America but what happens if you aren't happy with the results?
7 On Your Side I-Team Investigator Scott Taylor says one woman believed she was going to die after liposuction surgery.
She is now fighting back with a multimillion dollar lawsuit.
Janine Hill loves cooking but after liposuction she felt her body giving up.
Hill says, "I knew I was going to die."
Hill is suing Dr. Henok Araya for $10 million. We caught a glimpse of Araya in front of Vita Surgical Group which he owns. It's located in Northwest D.C.
Janine Hill adds, "Once he began the procedure it was burning really, really bad."
Hill's lawsuit alleges that Araya doesn't have a sterile surgical environment, that the procedure took place in an exam room and that her skin wasn't cleaned.
You can read the lawsuit below:
Scott Taylor asks Hill, "Did Dr. Araya have a surgical mask on?"
Janine Hill says "No."
Hill’s lawsuit says that she developed a bacterial infection. That led to a second surgery by a different doctor. We spoke to four other former patients. None wanted to be identified but one did talk about her liposuction.
One former patient said, "It was burning like hell. It was burning."
Doctor Alexander Sobel, the President of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery says, "Liposuction has complications just like any procedure but in general they are really, really, really rare."
The A.B.C.S. says its surgeons are double board certified and operate in accredited hospitals or surgical centers.
Araya's self-reported D.C. physician's profile says he has no hospital affiliations and no specialty board certifications.
On his website, 96 patients praise Araya saying, "painless, great. Clean. Best doctor in DC."
But one former patient says during a follow up Araya attached a trash bag to her underwear to catch draining fluid and he walked out of the room.
That patient said, "I'm feeling nauseated and faint, and you have me stand over a trash bag to drain. And you leave the room."
We visited all seven of his satellite locations but at three spots — a Hair Salon, Day Spa, and Skin Wellness MD — we couldn't find anyone who had heard of Araya.
Araya declined our request for on-camera interview. His attorney emailed:
“Dr. Araya is a cosmetic surgeon. He has been practicing cosmetic surgery in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area exclusively since 2003, and is proud to have helped many thousands of patients over the years. His treatment of patients meets the pertinent standard of care in every respect.
Like many competent physicians during their careers, unfortunately Dr. Araya now finds himself in a law suit. Dr. Araya performs liposuction, and in this litigation he must respond to allegations about his care that are not true.
But the place for Dr. Araya to answer those allegations is in Court, and so neither he nor I will have any further comment.
It is not fair for any litigant -- plaintiff or defendant, patient or physician -- to exploit the media for his or her own partisan purposes. We are disappointed that ABC and WJLA apparently are being used to dishonor that principle.”
Scott Taylor asks Janine Hill, "If Dr. Araya was sitting here right now what would you say to him?"
Janine Hill says, "I would just show him the scars."
The I-Team also discovered in 2012, Araya paid a $5,000 fine to the State of Maryland for confirming he completed 50 hours of continuing education when he didn't. He later completed the classes.
State of Maryland fine:
Tom Lalley with the D.C. Department of Health tells ABC7, “DOH is aware of the allegations against Dr. Araya and are reviewing them but we don’t comment on things of this nature.”