My Dr Alan Bittner Story.comStrip of photos-rollover to see larger views

Last updated 7/1712010. What's new!
See the news Videos!
New page on AdvanceLipo!

MY STORY

CORRECTIONS

BEFORE & AFTER

LAW SUITS

NEWS

FACTS

VICTIMS

WEBSITE CLAIMS

BLOG

HELP

CONTACT

Site updated 10/19/08
My name is Susan. I am 50 years old:

Women get plastic and cosmetic surgery for many reasons. Some are searching for the perfect body and the fountain of youth. Some want to correct congenital abnormalities. Some want to correct areas that are far enough out of sync that they inhibit healthy living and the ability to buy clothes that fit. I fall into the last category. None of us expect to look worse afterward.

After years of immobility and rehabilitation following an accident, I recently lost 50 pounds and found that age had saddled me with some changes in the contour of my body. I have some skeletal and neurological damage. I have fibromyalgia. The most effective way I have found to deal with these issues is to reduce my weight and stay active. The stuff around my middle was seriously hampering my movement and adding strain to my back. Let's face it; women tend to get a little thick around the middle as they age! I am not lazy and work hard. I eat well, power walk at least 2 miles a day and spend 8-10 hours in the gym each week doing an aerobic/weight lifting program supervised by a tough trainer and 2 hours of yoga. I can leg press 250# and do 120 sit-ups every day. Although I am in better shape than most women of my age and disabilities, I have some areas that are stubborn. Despite the claims of some exercise gurus, you CANNOT "spot reduce". Tone and tighten, yes....target fat loss in a particular area, no.

I looked toward liposuction for some help. Vain? Foolish? Perhaps. But, improving my confidence and mobility seemed worth it. Those stubborn areas kept me from completing certain exercises properly and affected my compromised neurological and skeletal health. I was not looking for a perfect body, just a comfortable and proportioned one. I have lovely muscles in my arms and lower legs, my abdominal muscles underneath are hard. But, the bulges at the waist hampered my movement, affected my motivation and aggravated my spinal damage and neurological disorder.

How NOT to choose a doctor:

I made an appointment with Dr. Alan Bittner in Beverly Hills in September 2007. My reasoning? A doctor with an office on the famous Rodeo Drive was more likely to be responsible about his work. I mean, it's hard to hide less-than-stellar work on Rodeo....isn't it? If you aren't doing good work and making your patients happy, you can't afford to keep that address....can you? I can trust this guy!

Looking back, I ignored many signals that should have made me think more critically about what I was doing. But I was determined and I was excited. I never saw the doctor for my consultation; it was done by an "assistant." Recalling a friend who told me about getting "touch-ups" on her similar surgery years before, I specifically asked if I was entitled to the same. I was insured that "Doctor advertised his treatment as "precise" and would make all efforts to take care of those little areas that needed some touch up". After all, he even uses the words "precise", "smooth" & "excellence" on his website numerous times to describe his work.

I was so excited when the "assistant" told me that I was a "great candidate" for lipo in the areas that concerned me. She raved about how wonderful the results would be and assured me that my "type of fat" was the "perfect type" for good results. She said that the "jiggly type" of fat was the best candidate. No kidding, that was the term she used. I booked surgery for the following Friday for upper/lower abdomen, waist, hips, love handles. I was given some medication to take in case I felt nervous. I later called added the inner thigh. That was a total of 5 sites.

Surgery:

On surgery day, I finally met the doctor. He photographed and marked me. Then 3 young men and a young woman took over prepping me. I informed them that I had indeed already taken the prescribed medication before coming in. I was then given some more oral medication. A few minutes after taking the medication, the doctor mentioned that I "really should have the pubic area done too", so the abdomen would look "right." I was "feeling good", so I agreed.

One young man started injecting fluids into me and started suction. I never saw or heard the doctor again. The procedure was painful and jarring. I found myself being jabbed at so roughly that I was afraid that I was going to be shoved off of the table. The pain got worse. After a while, one of the young men asked me if I wanted more medication and I agreed. I was given more pills and then they told me they would be giving me nitrous oxide "just like at the dentist". Being the daughter of a dentist who did not use nitrous oxide, I had no idea what it was like. I also never felt the need to have it for my 8 extractions when I got braces as an adult or even for my one root canal. I did not realize that I would be blacked out for the second half of the procedure. Later I read on the doctor's website that "all patients remain awake," a claim that now does not seem to be honest, at least in my case. But at the time, I just could not stand the pain and the "shaking" motion any longer and welcomed the reprieve.

After surgery:

Afterward the pain was a lot worse than the site claimed it would be. It was so bad that I took vicodin daily for over 4 months. The swelling lasted for over 5 months. Both the pain and swelling were much worse and lasted far longer than the website claimed. After about 3 months I could tell that my waist indeed was trimmer and my hips had less padding. The results looked good so far but the tissue was still quite "hard" and I was still swollen. I also lost 19 more pounds during that time by strict dieting (the office claimed that the surgery accounted for about 6 pounds). I was in so much pain and swollen that I had to buy larger clothes to wear for 3 months. My waist was 4 inches larger than before the surgery for months. It was over 6 weeks before I was able to go to the gym for even a light workout.

At about 5 months most of the tissue trauma was gone, but I developed weird bulges on my sides, inner thighs, back and stomach and, as you can see below, there is a great deal of difference in the two sides of my body.. It looked like the fat removal had just ended abruptly at the perimeters of each area. In profile I also have some odd "bumps" around the navel and slightly to one side. Neither my husband nor I can tell any difference in the pubic area and it seems to "jut" out under my abdomen. It looks more out of proportion now than before the surgery. I have begun to have doubts if that area was even treated. After things started looking questionable, I noticed on the doctor's website that the "limit" for “average” women was 6 sites during one surgery. I can't help but wonder if I was talked into the last site on the surgery day so that they could optimize the fee.

Follow up

When it seemed like the results were stable, I tried to make an appointment for follow up at 5 months, as instructed by the website. I was told that I could not even book one until 6 months had passed.

I called again and made an appointment a month later. I was happy with the overall reduction, but wanted the funny bumps to be blended in to look natural. I also felt that the asymmetry was not acceptable; after all, the point was to correct that sort of an issue. As you can see above, there is a great difference between the two sides of my waist area. I also notified the office that I wanted to do two additional (paid) areas...maybe 3...when they touched up "problems".

The doctor saw me for the follow up. He started taking pictures of me and I expressed my desire to do some more work, but that I wanted him to touch up the asymmetry, "unblended" areas and lumps. At that point he became obviously annoyed with me... He told me that I looked "great...beautiful" and that there was nothing wrong with the results. When I started to insist that the perimeters, asymmetry and odd bumps were not acceptable, he became hostile and told me that he "WOULD NOT" make any attempt to correct them. "That is just the way your body heals". I don't expect perfection, but I knew that the results were not reasonable and improvements were possible. I expected him to at least take a few seconds to consider or discuss the matter with me. I left very unhappy and started calling other surgeons for consultations on the way out.

Consults to Correct:

My suspicions were confirmed. I saw several surgeons who all agreed that touch-up/revision was necessary. All of them said that there was no reason to believe that much of it could not be corrected. They all agreed that my request was reasonable and that most (insert various possibly slanderous adjective here that I will not repeat) surgeons should have attempted to make the corrections. I called once more to see if Dr Bittner would make the revisions and was refused. I then notified his office that I would make my story public. They threatened to sue me if I did. I received a letter claiming that they were "releasing" me from their care and that they would be sending me my before and after pictures and records. They never came.

More on Records:

On April 2, I sent a signed, certified request for my photos and all my records. Today is October 9th and I have never received those photos or records. As I undersand it, the law requires that such requests be filled within 15 days.Other patients have told similar stories.

After the Medical Board raided the office and seized all records and computers, I was told that no records for me were found. Not much of a surprise, I figured that they would disappear. Several other victims have reported requesting but never recieving their records. Clinics are required to retain records for 7 years, and other laws apply to different situations. An ethical doctor retains records for at least 2 years or so if no other law applies. I have no doubt that most unhappy patient records disappeared rather fast.

Corrections:

I had the first of several corrective surgeries, with Dr. Alan Heller, on May 2, 2008 to adjust the waist, stomach and hip areas. II was amazed at the difference in the experience! I was given one tiny pill and a shot, nothing more. I stayed awake and lucid through the entire surgery, two hours, the same time it took Dr. Bittner's "team" to do the original surgery, the same areas plus others. I never felt any movement, pain, shaking or jarring. It was so gentle, SO different! I dressed myself and had to be forced into a wheelchair, I felt so good! At Dr. Bittner's office, I was escorted out through a back door of the facility (no wheelchair) and my husband walked me to the elevator and two and a half blocks to our car...I have no memory of making the trip. At Dr. Heller's office I was wheeled to the door of our vehicle.

After the corrective surgery I went home and felt great; after the original surgery I was "loopy" for days. I never had enough pain to even take an aspirin after the corrective surgery. . I was given antibiotics (none from Dr. Bittner) and received a personal call from my doctor on Saturday to check on my progress. I had only tiny, light bruising, about 3 fingertips in size. The swelling was minor and lasted only a few days. I had no drainage, not a drop. From Dr. Bittner I received a bag of "supplies" to mop up the leaking fluid...it was a bag of sanitary napkins cut in half! I used them all and had to buy another package, I leaked fluid and blood for days. After the corrections, I was back at the gym within a week.

I thought the horrible pain and swelling from the first surgery was normal. I am a practical women, I expected that any time a doctor "rooted" around inside your body that you should expect pain. I kept telling myself that mine was great because I had had several areas done. I was absolutely flabbergasted at the difference in the two experiences!

There is great improvement in the areas that Dr. Bittner said COULD NOT be improved. There are still a couple that need just a tiny bit more treatment, and I am now happy with the symmetry! This time, my doctor is honest enough to recognize and treat those small areas.

Please visit the Corrections page for updates and photos.

Certifications:

Had I been more thorough, I would have also found out that Dr. Bittner is not a cosmetic, plastic or even dermatological surgeon. He is a radiologist. I am sure radiologists may have some other duties, but most of them read x-rays, MRI's etc. and report the findings to the surgeon or other specialist. His website says he is "Board Certified". But the only certification that is offered is in radiology. Had I taken the time to learn this information, I doubt I would have even considered a consultation. While liposuction does not require training in plastic or cosmetic surgery, I fail to see a practical connection to radiology, in my humble opinion. The doctor who did my corrective procedure is a board certified Dermatologist ( a specialty that deals with aesthetic issues) and a specialist in skin cancer. Dermatologists routinely do surgeries for a variety of aesthetic needs. As far as I can tell, a radiologist may well know his anatomy, but is primarily trained in diagnostics and not surgery.....unless it pertains to the diagnostic procedure. Does that make a radiologist capable of doing such surgery? I don't know, what do you think?

Liability and Slander:

So here we are. I have not "called any names" nor have I labeled the doctor or his office with any derogatory terminology. I have simply relayed the events as they happened. This is the story of my experience. I have heard from other women who relay similar experiences. After being refused corrections to the original surgery, I examined Dr. Bittner's website more closely. Something I SHOULD have done first. I found many statements printed there that portray the procedures quite differently than those I experienced. Later I will post a page that specifically addresses those statements.

I cannot and HAVE NOT made particular assessments of Dr. Bittner or his team here, I have simply told you what happened to me. I will not and HAVE not advised or suggested that any reader should use or not use Dr. Bittner. That is your decision to make. I can say that I question the motives, quality and design of his clinic....again, my opinion, based on my expereience and supported by others.

Above are pictures of the problem areas at over 6 months post-surgery.

You be the judge.

If you were going to pay thousands of dollars and endure months of pain and discomfort, would you want the results to look like this? The clinic is called Beverly Hills Liposculpture. The idea behind lipo should be to "sculpt" the odd little areas on those who are not lucky enough to have the right genetics, not to create MORE "odd" lumps. Picasso may have been a famous artist, but I doubt that any woman wishes to resemble his work. No surgery is perfect, but I believe that patients should be able to expect a reasonable standard of results, and that a doctor should be willing to make an effort to make the patient happy. I believe that if a doctor, his employees or his advertisement makes claims in order to gain patients, that those patients should expect the statements made to be met, within reason.

Anyone who purchases a service or product should expect to get quality goods and services, regardless of whether it is elective or out of vanity. Car enthusiasts of pay thousands of dollars for custom paint jobs that are not "necessary"..... Does that mean if the paint job is poorly done or incorrect that they do not deserve to seek correction and compensation? If you pay for a blue shirt and you get a red one; is that OK? Cosmetic surgery might seem frivolous to juries and some people. That cosmetic surgery might be a "choice" does not relieve doctors of the responsibility to deliver a good product and make good their representations of their product.

  • Patients should expect respect and consideration after paying thousands of dollars for service, especially after being told that they were a "great candidate" for treatment.
  • Patients should not have to seek corrections from other doctors at added expense.
  • A doctor's website should not make claims that are untrue or fail to follow through on claims they make.
  • After posting on a PS board I have been contacted by many women with similar experiences. It seems that I am probably not an isolated case.
  • Patients should be INFORMED that the doctor won't be ding their surgery, no matter who actually does it, liscensed or not!

Update on collecting for corrections:

After receiving my first corrective surgery, I contacted Dr. Bittner's office and asked them nicely to pay for my revisions. I was contacted by his attorney and offered a settlement to pay for all the corrections. However, in order to receive compensation, I was forbidden to talk about my experience or "assist" in any way the public disclosure of my information. That means I could not share my story on the web, in a forum for people seeking advice or help with such matters. I could not even send my story to someone who might then publish it in a public forum.

We are not wealthy people; we do not live in Beverly Hills, or even close to it. It is severely impacting our financial situation to pay to have this work redone. No matter the financial loss, I do not believe anyone should be censored or forbidden to tell the truth.

I have not advocated any particular viewpoint or action other than suggesting that prospective patients take the time to investigate particular information about their doctors before making choices. The truth and freedom to tell my story is more important than money. I have no wish to direct the choices of others. If in hearing my story, they feel the events are substantial enough to affect their personal decisions, so be it. What are my wishes for those who read this site? Simply, that people read it. Am I telling the truth? I will be happy to publish or forward documents and emails from the attorney concerning a settlement offer. Would you give up thousands of dollars in order to spread untruths? I wouldn't! Perhaps someone might spread lies if they were not offered a settlement, but does it make sense that I would forego having my addtional surgeries paid for in order to tell a fabricated story? You might call me a bit lazy for not doing better research, but that does not make me crazy!

I apologize for publishing this before it is finished...check back later for more! These pictures are certified to be untouched by the professional photographer that took them. Until I get enlargements built into the page it may be difficult to see some of the issues. Still, these were taken 6 months AFTER my surgery. I have no illusions that I am 25, or that I still have some weight to lose. What matters is that my waist is greatly "different" on each side and the lumps that begin at the bottom of the rib cage. I did not have those before surgery. Also notice the little "mountain" around my navel looking down. I do not deny that there is "less fat" that before the surgery, but at least I looked fairly symmetrical and had no "odd" projections (except for one bump on my right hip, afterward that hips had 3 bumps).

Wonderful results on previously untreated area!:

I had a surgery done by Dr. Heller that was on an area not previously treated. The experience was the same. Very little sedation, no pain, no movement...completely comfortable and happy! Considerably smaller proportion of area was bruised, very little swelling. No draining or leaking, no pads or dressing changes, just two band-aids. Went shopping later that day! The only pain I felt was like I had worked out a bit more than usual. I never took anything for the pain, it just was not bad enough! A week later, the results were smooth, the minor swelling is gone, most of the bruising was gone. Once again the experience was exponentially different and the results as close to perfect as one could hope! What a difference in the entire experience and all the results!

SO.......

You don't need to be bruised, swollen and in pain for MONTHS.....

AND.....I guess it is NOT "the way my body heals"..after all.

Blog