Patients pay thousands of deposits to Ontario plastic surgeon they say is missing
Pina Vitale waited 15 years to have a tummy tuck, an operation to tighten her abdomen. She wanted to have the procedure after the birth of her child and has spent the last few years preparing for it: getting healthy, quitting smoking and losing weight.
After Vitale spent two months researching plastic surgeons, in July she settled on Dr Mahmood Kara, who is also called Mahmud Kara from Dr Kara Plastic Surgery. Her website says he has over 27 years of cosmetic surgery experience, reviews were positive, and her staff made her feel comfortable on the phone.
“It was ready and I was very excited,” she said. “It’s not for everyone in the world, it’s for me. It was to make me feel better.”
Vitale made a 50% deposit of $ 6,500. In the weeks leading up to her October 4 appointment to meet Kara at her location at Scarborough Centenary Hospital, however, she was unable to reach anyone at the clinic. CBC News either.
Vitale is one of twelve patients CBC News spoke with who say Kara took 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 have filed complaints with York Regional Police and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
“No one is answering my calls. My emails are being bounced… the phones have been disconnected. So I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’,” She told CBC News in an interview at her home in Nobleton, Ontario. “It’s so disappointing … [I worked] so hard to get here. “
Kara operates four private clinics in Ontario in Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan and Whitby and has two satellite locations in Guelph and Burlington, according to her company’s website.
CBC News has contacted Kara on several occasions through attorneys, email, phone, social media, and in person. He did not respond to any of our questions or requests for comment.
A patient who took out a loan of $ 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 am completely devastated and stressed to the max,” she said in an interview in Brantford, Ont., Near her home on the Six Nations of the Grand River.
She chose Kara after reading positive reviews and speaking with a friend who had a great experience. She met Kara for her consultation in July and described her as calm.
“There was no warning sign,” she said.
“I was really looking forward to [the surgery]. I thought it would change my life and my confidence. “
The nonprofit Breast Implant Safety Alliance (BISA), which advocates for people who have had negative results with breast implants and promotes patient responsibility and safety, says it’s common in North America that patients make a deposit for their procedure and then pay full weeks before the date of surgery.
Some patients initially told Kara on personal leave
Hill says his surgery was originally booked for August 25, but was postponed until the following month because the clinic said the anesthesiologist was unavailable. A week before the new date, she received an email from the clinic stating that her operation had been canceled and would be postponed again.
“Dr Kara will be on personal leave and is expected to be back on September 30 when we can reschedule patients,” the email said.
Hill sensed that something was wrong. She tried to contact the clinic to cancel her operation and get a refund. She says she called the clinic more than 50 times and sent several emails, but no one called her back.
She says she can’t afford to have an operation from another doctor unless she gets her money back.
“I am really angry and I feel helpless,” she said.
CBC News visited Kara’s clinic in Vaughan and found that she had been cleaned. During a recent visit to his Toronto location, staff at a health clinic where Kara rents space once said he and his staff stopped showing up. CBC News also attempted to contact him in person at his Vaughan home, but no one opened the door.
Attempts to contact four of its staff members via email, phone and social media were also unsuccessful. Staff cell phone numbers provided to patients and the main clinic number have been disconnected.
Lawsuit calls for bad rent checks
After Vitale was unable to reach Kara or her team before her October 4 appointment, she went to the Vaughan clinic that day. Instead of getting answers, the two units the clinic previously occupied were empty and a legal letter was stuck on the doors stating that the lease was terminated and the locks had been changed.
Kleinburg Village Center Inc. filed a civil lawsuit against Kara and the Dr. Kara Medicine Professional Corporation on September 23 for $ 664,608, alleging that he and his company violated two commercial leases. According to the statement, Kara signed a lease to rent two units in the building in August, but in September the two rent checks were turned down due to insufficient funds.
A week later, the manager of Kara’s office informed the owner, Dr. Kara Medicine Professional Corporation “was insolvent and the business was not doing well,” the claim says.
A defense has yet to be filed and the claim has yet to be 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 that they had filed reports with York Regional Police, police declined to confirm whether they were investigating Kara. But a spokesperson said if anyone files a report, it will be fully investigated.
Previous lawsuits and complaints
The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons says it recently received a handful of complaints about Kara. The chief executive said the doctor had not been a member of the company since 2018. People who filed complaints were referred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
The CPSO, which investigates and disciplines its members, says it is forbidden to disclose if it is currently investigating the surgeon, but said Kara had already been investigated and had been formally warned.
In 2017, he was warned by the CPSO’s Complaints and Reports Committee for breaking advertising rules by using before and after photos in a magazine advertisement.
“Given his repeated violations of advertising policy and regulation, the committee was not convinced that it would change its behavior without further guidance,” read a summary of the complaint and the complaint. decision.
Kara’s website currently features over 200 before and after photos, which were also on view in 2018 when CBC Marketplace investigated on how breast implants were marketed by surgeons in Toronto.
The CPSO also cautioned Kara against informed consent and documentation in February 2020 after a patient complained that she received larger breast implants than she initially agreed to when Kara removed her current implants. due to the pain and replaced them with new ones.
The patient and her husband filed a civil suit in April against Kara, her company and an employee for more than $ 250,000, alleging physical and emotional pain from the larger implants. The claim says this led her to switch from a bra cup size “C” to a “DDD” at the age of 72.
In her defense, Kara said the patient consented to the larger size verbally and in writing prior to the operation. He denies any negligence or breach of duty of care.
The claim has not yet been tested in court.
Security group says Kara’s actions add to existing lack of trust
Canadian representative for the Breast Implant Safety Alliance (BISA), Julie Elliott, said the alliance is not associated with Kara, but has asked women to inquire about the situation.
“I think it’s really sad because he’s still a doctor, and he vowed not to hurt and unfortunately he didn’t live up to that,” she said.
Elliott says the situation contributes to an already existing mistrust between some patients and plastic surgeons.
Vitale says she has given up on having a tummy tuck for now because she has lost confidence in the profession. If she is looking for someone else, she hopes to get a referral from her doctor.
“This was what I was looking for, does that change and he help me [feel comfortable]. And unfortunately he couldn’t, “she said.” I don’t think he wanted to help anyone. He left.”