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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

Comments (9)
  1. lala63 says:

    Okay people, let’s read the last paragraph of this article again. HELLLLLO! Buyer beware? Ever heard that phrase … or how about the saying about if a thing looks too good to be true … it is! Oh well, a fool and their money (even at a cheap $700 per body part) are soon parted !!! What an idiot.

    1. cindy davis says:

      you are the idiot.i hate people literally hate people with absolutely no compassion

  2. mister s says:

    She knew she would be awake…… did she not expect pain? Throw this case out.

    1. susan says:

      @mister and lala63–both of whom might be bittner pals:

      Bittner’s site promised that patients would be awake.and comfortable. Despite that most of the patients were put out due to horrific pain. No patient was comfortable. A victim myself, I have now had several more surgeries to repair damage, all done awake, all done with a fraction of the medication he gave me and all painless and comfortable. The pain came from the horrible technique of unskilled and unlicensed staff.

      One of the staff was a PA on probation because he lied about his arrest record. One was a chiropractor who was also giving general anesthesia. One had no official training or license ant all and he worked on me. No one was ever told that anyone other than the doc would be operating…or that they were unlicensed. Most patients say that bittner never operated on them….although he claimed to after they were put out.

      Costs: The costs reported are not accurate. The price list was within average range. Most areas costing $2000-4000, see website below. I have received letters for dozens of victims…and am still getting more.

      Currently his employees have opened new clinics, with docs who hide their true education and certification, “supervising” PA’s who do the surgery and even advertising on craigslist and those $700 prices.

      Check MYShape in NV. Both the family physician and PA worked for bittner. The PA, trevor schmidt, worked on me. He stabbed violently at me, so hard that I slid to the edgeo of the table and thought he was going to push me off. On the site you can see the results of his “work.” The pictures do not show the worst of the damage…and I’m one of the “lucky ones”.

      While I agree that the “new prices” are suspect, bittner’s were average. Yet m,any many men and women were harmed. Records of past discipline and such is often hidden from the public, and the Rodeo Drive address fooled an attorney, an PhD anthropologist, 2 tv writers, a former state beauty pagent winner and many more.

      For more info visit site and blog: mydralanbittnerstory (dot) com There is more info coming in the next few months. Please share the url!

    2. cindy davis says:

      and again another idiot

  3. responsibility says:

    And having a patient awake for a cosmetic/plastic procedure isn’t *that* unheard of. In my “past life”, I saw people undergo lipo surgery, as well as facial implant surgery, while awake, conscious, totally lucid (some people want to be able to see/direct the doctor, yes that’s done!)….Using *local* anesthesia, not knock you out propofol or the like.

    If this doc was operating sans anesthesia of any kind, that’s nuts (and probably illegal). The article indicates he did use local though. Like Lala said, buyer beware. That idiot knew up front what she was getting into, throw the case out.

    And for what it’s worth, this guy’s been out of practice for some time it seems, so thankfully he’s off the streets…. Or at least closed shop in late 2008.

    p.s. Certified Radiologist, not certified plastic surgeon. Again, her fault. Credentials people!

  4. aiza@ plasticsurgery says:

    this serves as a warning to everyone especially those who wants to have liposuction.Breast Implants Beverly Hills

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