A radiologist-turned-'cosmetic surgeon' who boasted of using fat extracted from patients to run his SUV is himself on the run now. Patients complaining of side-effects are now suing him. Incidentally he was practicing on the famed upmarket Beverley Hills in Los Angeles.
A woman who suffered heavily at the hands of the now absconding Alan Brittner has a website narrating her woes. http://www.mydralanbittnerstory.com/
"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..... I looked toward liposuction for some help. Vain? Foolish? Perhaps. But, improving my confidence and mobility seemed worth it... 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."
But it proved a disastrous experience for Susan. Fat was sucked off at as many as eight points, and it was Bittner's assistants who carried out the procedure. The 'cosmetician' apparently wouldn't care to bother himself with finer details and vanished after conducting the initial tests and deciding what should be done.
"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. At about 5 months most of the tissue trauma was gone, but I developed weird bulges on my sides, inner thighs, back and stomach ....," Susan says.
And when she went back to him, she was virtually shown the door.
She writes, "He told me that I looked "
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."
In despair she sought the assistance of other cosmeticians and feels better now after some more corrective procedures.
Following similar complaints from many others, similarly cheated, officials of the California State Medical Board searched Bittner's premises in November last.
The search came after three former patients claimed that Bittner's girlfriend, office manager Stephanie Darcy, performed liposculpture procedures, according to the plaintiffs' attorney, Andrew Besser.
He says the assistant and girlfriend removed too much fat from clients and left them disfigured.
Three days after a warrant was issued, the 40-year-old Bittner reportedly fled to Brazil with his girlfriend, Besser said.
But in his heydays, Bittner was brazen about his queer ways. He even ran a website lipodiesel.com.
"My patients universally love the idea of converting their unwanted fat into fuel," he said in his blog. "Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly, but they get to take part in saving the Earth."
Business magazine Forbes said that Bittner used the 'lipofuel' to power both his Ford Explorer car and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator.
Biodiesel fuel is more commonly made from vegetable oils, although half of the U.S. supply comes from beef or pig products.
Animal and vegetable fat contains triglycerides that can be extracted and turned into diesel.
It is not known how Dr Bittner went about turning the fat sucked out of patients into fuel.
A gallon of fat will produce about a gallon of fuel, and drivers can get about the same amount of mileage from fat fuel as they do from regular diesel.
But it is illegal in the U.S. to use human medical waste to power vehicles. Now the doctor is being investigated by California's public health department.
Bittner —whose real first name is Craig — has had problems with the California State Medical Board before.
In 2003, Bittner was sued by the state of California and the California Medical Board for false statements in advertising breast MRI screening services
That business, Ameriscan, had 12 centers nationwide, before closing in November 2003. He had planned to open 10 more locations within 12 months.
Bittner said that he intended to open 500 offices across the U.S. before being sued in California upon opening his San Francisco scanning center.
The amazing part of the story is that "Dr. Bittner is not a cosmetic, plastic or even dermatological surgeon. He is a radiologist....," as Susan writes on her blog.
Well-known Beverly Hills lipo surgeon Dr. David Amron said it was unusual that Bittner was a board-certified radiologist practicing liposculpture.
"There is no specific policy," Amron said. "As a licensed medical professional, you are licensed to (practice) what you want. But generally, with each procedure you are specialized in that concentration. There are usually two groups of doctors who do liposuction, board certified plastic surgeons or dermatological surgeons."
Since Bittner opened his Rodeo office in 2007, Amron said he has seen "12 to 15" of Bittner's patients needing reconstructive surgery.
Bittner said in his Web site, he's seen more than 7,000 patients since starting 10 years ago.
On average he sees about 1,000 patients annually, he said in a 2008 PSP Innovation In Aesthetic Medicine article.
Bittner's numbers are startling to Amron.
"I have focused on liposuction for 14 years," Amron said. "It is very difficult to do more than six liposuction procedures a week. Doing any more than that begins to reduce patient care. Physically, lipo is more demanding than other surgeries. It is difficult to perform that many surgeries unless you are using other personnel to assist with the surgeries."
Joel Tamraz, the attorney representing Bittner's practice, Beverly Hills Liposculpture, declined to comment.
On his Web site, Bittner denies any wrongdoing. "I am proud to be able to tell you that the record of my liposculpture practice has been impeccable."
He says: It has been a sincere pleasure to take care of you and I want to share the news with you that Beverly Hills Liposculpture will be closing. My staff will continue to see patients until December 23, 2008. I am writing this letter to ensure that you are able to take steps to receive good medical care from other physicians in the future. Please note that my practice is not being taken over by another physician. You will need to find a new office and a new doctor. I recommend www.lacmanet.org for a list of physicians.
My journey has been an amazing one. I began my medical career volunteering in a rural clinic outside Bogata, Columbia that did not have enough equipment and was cursed with only sporadic electricity. After 10 years in practice, I have treated over 40,000 patients, including almost 7000 liposculpture patients. I am proud to be able to tell you that the record of my liposculpture practice has been impeccable; not one single serious complication or infection. Liposculpture is truly my passion and I have been extremely fortunate, however after 10 years of private practice, I am going back to South America to volunteer with a small clinic that is very similar to where my medical career began decades ago, where I can help those most in need.
I have hired a service which will retain possession of your medical records should you require them in the future. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of your medical records. This email address will remain active and any additional messages will be forwarded to my personal email.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Many thanks for entrusting your healthcare needs to me and my team. From all of us at Beverly Hills Liposculpture, we wish you the best possible health and happiness in the future.