Last year I blogged about a cosmetic surgeon in Florida named Osak Omulepu who had several bad patient outcomes resulting in the Florida Board of Health prohibiting him from performing Brazilian butt lifts.
A lot has happened since then.
On June 1st of this year, Lattia Baumeister, a 30-year-old mother of six from Illinois, died of fat emboli after a Brazilian butt lift performed by none other than Dr. Omulepu.
Wait, hadn’t he been banned from doing that procedure?
According to the Miami Herald, “Florida officials had tried three times since February 2016 to stop Omulepu from performing liposuction and a fat transfer procedure to the buttocks known as a ‘Brazilian butt lift,’ his self-declared specialty. Each time, the same state appellate court in Tallahassee restored Omulepu’s practicing privileges under his Florida medical license.”
Ironically on June 1st, the appeals court had denied the state board’s request to stop him from doing liposuction procedures while his appeal was in progress. His lawyer had argued that because he almost exclusively performed liposuction, stopping him from doing that procedure would have constituted a “de facto suspension” of his license.
Four days after Baumeister’s death, the court ordered Omulepu, who is not board-certified in any surgical specialty, to stop performing plastic surgery, but did not lift his license stating that “a board-certified physician must be present for any other medical procedures” he does. A ruling from the court on the state’s continuing efforts to remove the doctor’s license is pending.
The clickorlando.com website reported that Omulepu has had 12 complaints registered with the state. When I blogged about him last year, I noted he did not carry malpractice insurance.
Through all of this the doctor’s Healthgrades rating continues to be a solid 4 of 5 stars. If you dig into his Healthgrades profile under “Background Check,” you will find mention of a practice restriction for substandard care as of 2/16/16.
The Illinois woman had undergone the procedure at the Seduction Cosmetic Center in Doral which the city ordered closed for multiple violations after the patient’s death. A TV reporter asked the center’s owner why she hired a doctor with so many complaints against him. She refused to answer saying, “Oh, so this is a story? So, it’s like, this is a story? That somebody died is a story? Wow.”
The Florida Board of Health was trying to do its job but was thwarted by the courts and the ponderous appeals process. South Florida is a hotbed of cut-rate plastic surgery clinics often staffed by physicians who are not trained or board-certified in plastic surgery.
Naïve patients do not look past the seductive advertising and low cost of the procedures.
This needs to stop, but as long as courts exist, we will continue to see more complications and deaths.
Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last six years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog has had more than 2,500,000 page views, and he has over 15,500 followers on Twitter.