Discount internet sites often offer deals seemingly too good to pass up. But an Action News Investigation warns of an ugly side to cosmetic procedures on the cheap.
The advertisements claim up to 91% off for liposuction, Botox, and even Brazilian butt lifts. Action News dug into the background of two dozen area doctors providing deep discounts on Groupon.
We found nearly 1 in 4 had been disciplined or charged by their respective state medical boards within the past decade. These included a chiropractor who did time behind bars for health care fraud, and doctors disciplined for watering down Botox, and another for administering improper drugs.
Connie Zuniga, a patient, said, "The pain was terrible, like horrible, you could feel everything and he would go 'whoops, oh whoops,' and he'd just stick me with more anesthesia."
Zuniga went to Dr. Ayman Shahine for a tummy tuck in 2014. She claims he convinced her to get a Brazilian butt lift instead, and within 24-hours she was under the knife. The price tag? $10,000.
And instead of a lift, she says Dr. Shahine instead botched her surgery.
"He convinced me out of a tummy tuck. He said 'I'll do laser lip and I'll put the fat in your butt and make you a nice shape.' I'm like 'alright, we can try that,'" Zuniga said.
She eventually ended up seeing Dr. Terry Dubrow on the reality show, 'Botched,' where plastic surgeons correct allegedly botched procedures.
"When I was seen by Dr. Dubrows, he said this is the worst thing I've ever seen," said Zuniga.
On Groupon, Dr. Shahine advertises for his Perfect Curves Laser Lipo in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
He opened the Delaware County practice around the time The New York Board for Professional Medical Conduct filed charges accusing him of gross negligence, gross incompetence, and fraud among other charges.
He's accused of failing to do pre-operative blood work, performing unnecessary tests and billing for tests he allegedly never conducted.
Dr. Ayman Shahine said, "All of these are allegations. If anything was found true I would not be allowed to practice medicine. My license is clean."
Dr. Shahine denied any wrongdoing when we sat down with him and his lawyer in his New York office last year.
But medical experts point to a growing problem of doctors with a different specialty performing cosmetic procedures with little training and oversight.
"You can be a radiologist and pick up a scalpel for the first time in your life and try to do a cosmetic surgery just to make money, and it's completely legal without any training. It's scary," Dr. Christian Subbio, a board certified plastic surgeon, said.
Shahine told Action News, "I've been doing the cosmetic surgery for the past 12 years."
In regards to six medical malpractice suits, Shahine said most have been dismissed.
"People will make complaints about anybody. People will make complaints about God himself," Shahine said.
For Connie Zuniga, the lasting scars from her procedure are both physical and emotional. She wants Dr. Shahine put out of the cosmetic procedure business.
"They need to take away his license because he doesn't even care about what he's doing. He lies to you," Zuniga said.
The New York Board for Professional Medical Conduct is still reviewing the charges against Dr. Shahine, and no official action has been taken.
Groupon released a statement that reads:
"While I don't know for certain, I feel comfortable saying that Groupon's vetting process for advertisers is at least as stringent as your average local television affiliate or newspaper."
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Action News Investigation: Dark side of cheap cosmetic procedures