A fine and a speech for a Miami doctor after a Brazilian butt lift patient’s death?
The mistakes New Life Plastic Surgery’s Dr. Oliver Simmons made that led to the death of Tanisha Walker likely will cost him a $10,000 fine and the time spent making a one-hour lecture on the potential complications during a gluteal fat grafting.
That form of liposuction is commonly called a “Brazilian butt lift” or “BBL” and it’s what Simmons had finished on Walker at New Life when she died April 20 at the age of 46.
As for the fine, the speech and some other restrictions, they’re in the settlement agreement reached between the Florida Department of Health and Simmons. That agreement has been submitted for the approval of the state Board of Medicine, which will give its yay or nay in a final order at the 8 a.m. Feb. 3 full board meeting.
READ MORE: Here’s how to check out your Brazilian butt lift or plastic surgery doctors in Florida
Simmons’ full proposed punishment and how it was reached
After Department of Health investigation and the autopsy by Miami-Dade Chief Medical Examiner Kenneth Hutchins, the department said Simmons violated Florida law by injecting fat into Walker’s gluteal muscles during the BBL. The department’s memo to the Board of Medicine about the settlement agreement says the guidelines for this violation are, for the license, from a year of probation to revocation and an administrative fine in the $2,500 to $10,000 range.
It says nothing about what happens if the first offense involves a patient’s death.
In arguing for the Board of Medicine to accept the settlement agreement, Simmons attorney, Pennington Law’s Jon Pellett, pointed to the cases of Dr. Stephanie Stover and Dr. Sergio Alvarez.
▪ Like Simmons, Stover’s Florida license showed no previous discipline problems before her Sept. 15, 2020 breast augmentation, abdominoplasty, lipsuction and Brazilian butt lift surgery on 46-year-old Gia Romualdo-Rodriguez at Xiluet Plastic Surgery (that’s the same Xiluet blocked state inspectors from entering in July 2021).
An administrative law judge thought the Department of Health proved that fat in Romualdo-Rodriguez’s gluteal muscles traveled to her lungs to create a fatal embolism. But the judge said the department didn’t prove Stover had acted with reckless disregard to her patient’s health. She was fined $5,000 and put on a one-year probation “under indirect supervision with no restriction of practice.”
Stover’s license profile now bears the address of New Life Plastic Surgery.
▪ Sergio Alvarez of Mia Aesthetics got a $5,000 fine and a year of probation during which he would could be only an observer in any Brazilian butt lift.
Simmons full punishment in the proposed settlement agreement includes:
A letter of reprimand against his license;
▪ A $10,000 fine and reimbursement of the department’s investigative and prosecution costs between $7,588 and $9,588;
▪ A one-hour lecture/seminar he must give on safety and possible complications of BBL surgeries to the staff at an approved medical facility;
▪ Ultrasound guidance must be used during his BBLs for at least six months after the final order from the Board of Medicine.
The emergency restriction order banning Simmons from Brazilian butt lifts is lifted. Pellett’s letter to the Board says the American Board of Plastic Surgery certification Simmons has held since 2014 will remain on probation until Simmons satisfies the settlement agreement. His American Board of Otolalyngology certification in Head and Neck Surgery remains.
READ MORE: A Miami surgeon can’t do Brazilian butt lifts after a patient’s death, the state says
Tanisha Walker’s cosmetic surgery trip to South Florida
The restriction order and testimony for the Department of Health by Miami board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Pat Pazmiño noted that when Walker came from Indiana, she went to Bright Plastic Surgery in Weston on April 18, 2022. In evaluating Walker for a breast reduction surgery, Dr. Paul Goldberg thought Walker’s body mass index of 38.1; history of high blood pressure; medication list of more than one blood pressure medications; and pre-diabetic condition added up to “no.”
Pazmiño wrote that Goldberg “noted that ‘she was not a candidate for office surgery, but maybe she would be a candidate for surgery in a hospital.’”
A day later, Simmons approved Walker for Brazilian butt lift surgery at New Life, 8400 SW Eighth St. Simmons cut into Walker on April 20. Pellet’s letter acknowledges Walker was 5-foot-4 and 230 pounds with an even higher body mass index, 39.5, than the previous day.
Pazmiño criticized the paperwork New Life gave Walker signed as deceptive because it indicated that New Life has privileges at Larkin Community Hospital, when it’s the doctor who has privileges at a hospital. But, more damagin, he noted Simmons perforated the abdominal wall between the 11th and 12th ribs; caused internal bleeding around the left kidney when he damaged that; and injected fat into the gluteal muscle, which caused the fatal pulmonary embolism.
In a lung, Miami-Dade Chief Medical Examiner Hutchins found “there are many vessels filed with fat emboli” and “there is vegetable matter in the small airways.”