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Reader Question on Mommy Makeover Nightmare in Australia

Posted Sep 21 2010 7:30am

Reader Question:

Can you explain why Dr Morris Ritz, from the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery, who is a fully trained reconstructive/plastic surgeon, would have subjected a patient to an EIGHT HOUR SURGERY with MULTIPLE procedures, each of which was supposed to be done one at a time? This segment aired on Australian Sixty Minutes, Channel 9 on 27th August 2010 and the woman’s name is Kerry Mullins. I am in shock, as this poor woman has been mutilated. She developed a shocking infection and Dr Ritz did not offer her any after care- in fact, when he discharged her from the first hospital he never saw her again. How can this level of malpractice occur in such a well trained doctor, and is it common?

TARA BROWN: At 35, after having five children, Kerry Mullins thought cosmetic surgery was the quick-fix she needed to get her body back in shape.

KERRY MULLINS: I didn’t want to ever be a supermodel or completely change the way I was. Just to feel like a woman again, you know, like a normal woman again. That’s all I wanted.

TARA BROWN: Kerry Mullins went to see plastic surgeon Morris Ritz, here, at the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery. She wanted a breast lift and tummy tuck. He sold her what is known in the industry as a ‘mum’s makeover’ – a $25,000 package, which included a breast lift, extensive liposuction and a tummy tuck. A three-in-one operation, which took eight hours to complete, and nearly cost Kerry her life.

KERRY MULLINS: I just remember closing my eyes and then, the next time I woke up, I woke up to a nurse holding my breast and prodding me and Mr Ritz then came in and he was stabbing my nipple with a needle to try and get it to – sorry, can I stop for a minute?

TARA BROWN: A massive infection was ravaging Kerry’s body, and she was rushed into emergency hospital care.

KERRY MULLINS: I was in there for three months, and each and every other day they’d take me down to theatre and so I had 22 operations all up, and every second day they would cut it away, cut it away, cut it away until it was just a big hole in my chest.

I cannot speak to the training an Australian plastic surgeon receives in residency training, but “Mommy Makeovers” are becoming more commonplace. Stacking large scale operations and entertaining longer anesthetics and surgical procedures is the trend. I have never said it was a good idea. Many times doctors defending such scalpel-fests do so by stating if they didn’t schedule such a case one of their competitors might have.

Malpractice in Australia may be hard to prove. It is here in the United States. The amount of aftercare that is appropriate is widely subject to debate. Poor outcomes happen even in cases involving lesser surgery although thankfully I have never had such a catastrophe in my practice. Then again I stage operations over a period of time when I feel it is appropriate.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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