(CN) – Eleven women say they were disfigured by a North Carolina ear, nose and throat doctor who switched to plastic surgery after a string of complaints in his original practice. They claim Dr. Paul Carl Drago began doing liposuction on patients after attending a weekend seminar from a surgeon who is not licensed in the United States, and left his patients with gapping or draining wounds, odd contours, bumps and ridges, excessive pain and often profuse post-operative bleeding.
The two complaints in Mecklenburg County Court, in Charlotte, N.C., also claim Drago failed to use sterile instruments and used only local anesthesia because he lacked the training and skill to do otherwise. They claim that Drago “committed multiple acts of negligence as an ear, nose and throat (‘ENT’) doctor,” and that he “misrepresented his medical background, misrepresented his experience, misrepresented his training, and concealed his history of medical complications and reprimands by the medical community.”
The 11 women, each of whom says she had to have corrective surgery costing from $7,500 to $32,300, seek compensatory and punitive damages.
Drago, a practitioner with codefendant Genesis ENT & Plastic Surgery in Charlotte, is accused of gross negligence, of falsely claiming he was a board certified plastic surgeon, of misrepresenting his training and qualifications, and failing to reveal that his surgical privileges had been suspended at two medical facilities.
The women say Drago injured them between 2006 and 2009, after he switched specialties. They say he had been a otolaryngologist, then began an extensive advertising campaign offering cosmetic surgery patients the “Smart Lipo” procedure.
“Smart Lipo” is a less invasive procedure than conventional liposuction, in lasers are used to remove fat rather than a thin metal suction tube.
Because it is less invasive, Smart Lipo is considered to have fewer side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it in the United States in 2006.
But the women complain that in addition to his failures noted above, Drago did not wear a mask or cap during surgery, allowed people to enter the operating room without scrubbing or changing into sterile clothing, and sometimes allowed his surgical technicians and RNs to perform the procedure.
The women say that when they returned to his office complaining of odd “lumpiness, bumpiness and ridges,” among other post-operative abnormalities, Drago responded by offering to perform more, expensive, surgery or recommended they do “baby oil massages” twice a day.
The patients also say Drago held himself out as “board certified,” though he was not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The women say he had simply paid a fee to join the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.The three women in one case and eight in the other are represented by Troy Stafford with DeVore, Acton and Stafford in Charlotte, N.C.