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Canada Patients out thousands in deposits to Ontario plastic surgeon who they say disappeared

12:07  18 october  2021
12:07  18 october  2021 Source:   cbc.ca

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Comments from users who appear on this subreddit only to discuss a specific political topic, medical condition, health care role, or similar single-topic issues will be removed. Comments which deviate from the topic of a thread to interject an unrelated personal opinion (e.g. politics) or steer the conversation to their pet issue will be removed. Many (if most most) plastic surgeons work in outpatient surgery centers and can do pretty much anything that doesn't require admission to a hospital. Local flaps for cancer resections, skin grafts, and a lot of breast reconstruction is done in outpatient surgery centers.

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Pina Vitale is shown in her backyard with documents she's saved from Dr. Kara Plastic Surgery. She's out more than $6,000 after paying a deposit but not getting a procedure. © Mark Bochsler/CBC Pina Vitale is shown in her backyard with documents she's saved from Dr. Kara Plastic Surgery. She's out more than $6,000 after paying a deposit but not getting a procedure.

Pina Vitale waited 15 years to get a tummy tuck — a surgery to tighten up her abdomen. She had been wanting to get the procedure after the birth of her child and spent the last few years preparing for it: getting healthy, quitting smoking and losing weight.

After Vitale spent two months researching plastic surgeons, she settled in July on Dr. Mahmood Kara, who also goes by Mahmud Kara of Dr. Kara Plastic Surgery. His website says he has more than 27 years of experience doing cosmetic surgery, the reviews were positive and his staff made her feel comfortable over the phone.

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A plastic surgeon is a licensed medical doctor trained in patient interactions, trauma care and basic surgery techniques, as well as specialized areas, such as tissue transfer, body contouring and laser surgery . In this article Microvascular plastic surgery is so delicate that it requires the use of a microscope and tiny sutures finer than human hair. Burn patients often need plastic surgery to cover areas where skin has been damaged or scarred. Patients who have received traumatic injuries may also need plastic surgery .

"It was set and I was very excited," she said. "It's not for everybody else in the world, it's for me. It was to make me feel better."

Vitale paid a 50 per cent deposit of $6,500. In the weeks leading up to her Oct. 4 appointment to meet Kara at his location in the Scarborough Centenary Hospital, however, she couldn't reach anyone at the clinic. Neither could CBC News.

CBC News has attempted to contact Dr. Mahmood Kara multiple times through phone, email, social media and in person, but he hasn't responded to any requests for comment. © drkaraplasticsurgery.com CBC News has attempted to contact Dr. Mahmood Kara multiple times through phone, email, social media and in person, but he hasn't responded to any requests for comment.

Vitale is one of a dozen patients CBC News has spoken with who say Kara has taken thousands of dollars of their money and disappeared. Many other patients have commented on his company's social media pages with similar stories. Several say they filed complaints with York Regional Police and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

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The surgery , which can cost up to £8,000, also helps her earning potential. Most of the time, Melissa works in a gym, but she also makes money on the side modelling clothes on Instagram. Brazil remains the global centre of cosmetic surgery , in part because of Pitanguy’s legacy: free or low-cost cosmetic procedures are still available in the public health system. Not being a luxury commodity, the practice of cosmetic surgery saturates society at every level. Such accessibility has a darker side – Brazilian surgeons are “known worldwide for producing new techniques,” Jarrin told me, because

Another patient ’s life has also been upturned by the mysterious brain disorder. Gabrielle Cormier, whose neurological symptoms include vision problems, and sudden walking and standing inabilities, was diagnosed at the age of 20. “ I can’t read, which is a shame because I love to read. Over the years, more patients have emerged, exhibiting similar symptoms of dementia and strange muscle movements, among other disorders. When the number of people affected began to grow, the doctor concluded he was dealing with something that hadn’t been observed before in the medical world and

"No one's answering my calls. My emails are being sent back … phones have been disconnected. So I'm like, 'What's going on?'" she old CBC News during an interview at her home in Nobleton, Ont.  "It's so disappointing …. [I worked] so hard to get here."

Kara operates four private clinics across Ontario in Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan and Whitby and has two satellite locations in Guelph and Burlington, according to his company's website.

CBC News has reached out to Kara multiple times through lawyers, over email, phone, social media and in person. He has not responded to any of our questions or requests for comment.

Patient who took out loan for $16,500 'completely devastated'

Heather Hill borrowed $16,500 from a loan company that paid Kara directly, and in full, for breast augmentation surgery.

"I'm completely devastated and I'm stressed to the max," she said in an interview in Brantford, Ont., near her home on the Six Nations of the Grand River.

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She chose Kara after reading positive reviews and speaking with a friend who had a good experience. She met Kara for her consultation in July and described him as quiet.

"There were no warning signs at all," she said.

"I was really looking forward to [the surgery]. I thought that it would be life changing for me and my self-confidence."

The non-profit Breast Implant Safety Alliance (BISA), which advocates for people who've had negative outcomes with breast implants and promotes accountability and patient safety, says it's common in North America for patients to pay a deposit for their procedure then to pay in full weeks before the surgery date.

Some patients originally told Kara on personal leave

Hill says her surgery was initially booked for Aug. 25, but was rescheduled for the following month because the clinic said the anesthesiologist wasn't available. A week before the new date, she received an email from the clinic saying her surgery was cancelled and would be rescheduled again.

"Dr. Kara will be away on a personal leave and scheduled to be back on the 30th of September when we will be able to reschedule patients," the email read.

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Hill felt something was wrong. She tried contacting the clinic to cancel her surgery and get a refund. She says she called the clinic more than 50 times and sent several emails, but no one has called her back.

She says she can't afford to get the surgery done by another doctor unless she gets her money back.

"I'm really angry and I feel helpless," she said.

CBC News went to Kara's clinic in Vaughan and found it cleared out. During a recent visit to his Toronto location, staff at a health clinic where Kara rents space said one day he and his staff stopped showing up. CBC News also tried to contact him in person at his home in Vaughan, but no one answered the door.

Attempts to contact four of his staff members through email, phone and social media were also unsuccessful. Staff cell phone numbers provided to patients and the clinic's main number have been disconnected.

Lawsuit claims rent cheques bounced

After Vitale couldn't reach Kara or his staff ahead of her Oct. 4 appointment, she drove to the clinic in Vaughan that day. Instead of getting answers, both units the clinic previously occupied were empty and a legal letter was taped to the doors stating the lease was terminated and the locks changed.

Kleinburg Village Centre Inc. filed a civil lawsuit against Kara and the Dr. Kara Medicine Professional Corporation on Sept. 23 for $664,608, alleging he and his company breached two commercial leases. According to the statement of claim, Kara signed a lease to rent two units in the building in August, but in September both rent cheques bounced due to insufficient funds.

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A lease termination notice is posted on the doors of the two units Dr. Mahmood Kara leased in the village of Kleinburg in Vaughan, Ont. Parts have been redacted for privacy reasons. © Angelina King/CBC A lease termination notice is posted on the doors of the two units Dr. Mahmood Kara leased in the village of Kleinburg in Vaughan, Ont. Parts have been redacted for privacy reasons.

A week later, Kara's office manager informed the landlord Dr. Kara Medicine Professional Corporation "was insolvent and that the business was not doing well," the claim states.

A statement of defence has not yet been filed and the claim has not yet been tested in court.

There are also liens against two vehicles and laser equipment in the name of Dr. Kara Medical Professional Corporation.

While several women told CBC News they've filed reports with York Regional Police, the force refused to confirm whether it's investigating Kara. But a spokesperson said if someone files a report, it will be investigated thoroughly.

Previous lawsuits and complaints

The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons says it's recently received a handful of complaints about Kara. The executive director says the doctor hasn't been a member of the society since 2018. Those reaching out with complaints were referred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

CPSO, which investigates and disciplines its members, says it's prohibited from disclosing whether it's presently investigating the surgeon, but did say Kara has previously been investigated and was formally cautioned.

In 2017, he was cautioned by CPSO's complaints and reports committee for violating advertising rules by using before-and-after photos in a magazine ad.

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"Given his repeated breaches of advertising policy and regulation, the committee was not satisfied that he would change his behaviour without further guidance," a summary of the complaint and decision reads.

The sign for Dr. Kara Plastic Surgery's clinic in Vaughan is shown here on Oct. 7, with the lease termination notice on the door. © Angelina King/CBC The sign for Dr. Kara Plastic Surgery's clinic in Vaughan is shown here on Oct. 7, with the lease termination notice on the door.

Kara's website currently features more than 200 before-and-after photos, which were also visible in 2018 when CBC Marketplace did an investigation into how breast implants were being marketed by Toronto surgeons.

The CPSO also cautioned Kara about informed consent and documentation in February of 2020 after a patient complained she received larger breast implants than she initially agreed to when Kara was removing her current ones due to pain and replacing them with new ones.

The patient and her husband filed a civil lawsuit against Kara in April, his company and an employee for more than $250,000 alleging physical and emotional pain for the larger implants. The claim states it caused her to go from a "C" bra cup size to a "DDD" at the age of 72.

In his statement of defence, Kara said the patient consented to the larger size verbally and in writing prior to the surgery. He denies any negligence or breach of duty of care.

The claim has not yet been tested in court.

Safety group says Kara's actions add to existing lack of trust

The Breast Implant Safety Alliance's (BISA) Canadian representative Julie Elliott says the alliance isn't associated with Kara, but she's had women reach out asking about the situation.

"I think this is really sad because he is still a doctor, and he took an oath of doing no harm and unfortunately, he didn't live up to that," she said.

Elliott says the situation is contributing to an already existing mistrust between some patients and plastic surgeons.

Vitale says she's given up on getting a tummy tuck for now because she's lost faith in the profession. If she does look for someone else, she's hoping to get a recommendation from her doctor.

"That was what I was looking for, is that change and for him to help me [feel comfortable]. And unfortunately, he couldn't," she said. "I don't think he wanted to help anybody. He left."

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