Woman Sues LA Doc For ‘Awake’ Liposuction Surgery

Patient conscious during bargain procedure

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Northern California woman is suing a Beverly Hills doctor for allegedly performing liposuction on her while she remained fully conscious.

Paula Hacker is among the latest patients to try the new and aggressively-promoted “Awake” cosmetic surgery, which is performed under local anesthesia at a fraction of the cost of a standard procedure with general anesthesia.

Dr. David Reaths with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons tells KFWB’s Maggie McKay the most disturbing aspect of these “bargain” operations is that patient safety is usually the first thing to go.

Hacker says in a Los Angeles Superior Court complaint that the “operating room” was nothing more than an oversize exam room at the Rodeo Drive office of “lipo-sculpture” practitioner Craig Alan Bittner, M.D.

The complaint alleges that Dr. Bittner’s assistants rolled her gurney into a second room, where the volume on a TV was increased to drown out her cries after she began to complain of severe pain as liposuction was performed on her back, underarms, abdomen, hips and neck.

An attorney for Dr. Bittner says he strongly denies all of Hacker’s allegations.

Hacker, a stay-at-home mom from Sacramento who wanted to trim down even more after shedding 22 pounds  through diet and exercise, had always feared general anesthesia and was looking for an alternative.

After stumbling on the Awake procedure while surfing the Web for deals, Hacker found it difficult to say no to the price: Dr. Bittner was charging only about $700 for each body part done using the Awake method compared with $3,000 for the conventional surgery.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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