A Channel 7 Investigation: Dr. Mekhail - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/06/03

A Channel 7 Investigation: Dr. Mekhail

This is Veronica Gilbert. She's 40 years old. She's happily married and generally always smiling and bubbly.

But a year ago her looks started to make her feel older and that depressed her.

She thought it was time to freshen up her appearance.

"I didn't like the way I was looking so i thought I've got some money saved up for a car, I'll get some body work done instead," says Veronica.

She decided to get liposuction on her hips, butt and thighs. Liposuction is a surgery where a doctor sucks fat from your body. She went to doctor Mounir Mekhail of Mekhail and Dourang Medical Center in Tyler.

"What did he tell you when he met you?"

"He could do a 50 percent improvement on what I looked like at the time," says Veronica.

But she says the results devastated her.

"There are places that there are missing places of flesh in between my legs. There's lumps. There are lumps under my rear, that shouldn't be there, like love handles. They're just pretty gross," says Veronica.

Not just gross, but painful.

"After i had the surgery, I'd tell him it hurt. He got upset with me and started getting on to me, you never say it looks good you always complain it hurts, it hurts , it hurts. And I thought you jerk -- you did this to me and you get mad at me what nerve," explains Veronica.

Veronica never went back to Dr. Mekhail after that conversation, but she did turn to Dr. James Motlagh, a board certified plastic surgeon for help.

Dr. Motlagh's assessment.

"She had a lot of fat and most of that was removed, however when I look at the lower one third of her thighs, I don't think that was addressed at all and that is an unaesthetic result," Dr. Motlagh explains.

Veronica remembers her meeting with Dr. Motlagh vividly.

"He called his nurse and said look at this and we took pictures and they were pretty disgusted too. He said i wasn't the first woman to come in there," she says.

One of those other women is Marqueta. She didn't want us to show her face or use her last name. She had liposuction on her stomach done by Dr. Mekhail and was unhappy with the results. She too turned to Dr. Motlagh for help. Marqueta has more than 20 holes in her stomach from the lipo. Dr. Motlagh says that is extremely excessive.

"Generally the standard of care is to use longer lipo canuals that can cover a longer area do that fewer holes are made. We usually do it with three holes to get the entire abdomen," says Dr. Motlagh.

Marqueta says that's not the worst of it. She says the surgery itself was horrifying.

"I woke up in the middle of the surgery. I started feeling the pain and started complaining that it was hurting and I didn't realize at the time, but I was getting sick and they had to stop and call my husband to pick me up," she says.

"You woke up in the middle of surgery?"

"Yeah it was only him and one other lady in there and he was actually handling the anesthesia and doing the actual liposuction,' she says.

Marqueta's story disturbed Dr. Motlagh.

"The American Society of Plastic Surgery has said a surgeon can not perform his own anesthesia because its almost a conflict of interest. You have to pay attention to what you are doing on one end you can't be going back and forth between keeping patient sedated and breathing well and doing your job. It is hard for anybody to do that even if you are an anesthesiologist," he says.

Veronica and Marqueta claim they were never told Dr. Mekhail was not a plastic surgeon, and just an anesthesiologist. According to Texas law, he doesn't have to be. Texas law allows anyone with a medical license to practice general medicine -- which includes cosmetic surgery. According to our research, Dr. Mekhail did take a course in tumescent liposuction, but Dr. Motlagh says, in his opinion, a simple course is not enough to safely perform cosmetic procedures. A licensed plastic surgeon has to complete years of specialized study.

"Residency training in plastic surgery takes 2 - 3 years. It is very rigorous, run by a review committee. There are specific guide lines that must be followed in terms of supervision, types of cases they see, quality of cases and the quantity of cases as well," he explains. "Anyone can take a weekend course as I alluded to and learn technique -- but it is the constant supervision that is required to get good at procedure," Dr. Motlagh added.

When Marqueta found out about Mekhail's background, she got angry.

"What have you done in response to your experience with doctor Mekhail," I asked.

"Dr. Mekhail, i have turned him into the Texas board of medical examiners."

A number of sources tell KLTV The Texas board of medical examiners is now investigating Dr. Mekhail's work. Marqueta's experience with Mekhail is not the only case under investigation. A few weeks ago, I sat down to talk with Dr. Mekhail and he told me he was not aware of any investigation. He said he did not know that at least two of his former patients were unhappy with their surgeries. He refused to speak with us on camera. Today, We got a phone call from Dr. Mekhail's attorney, David Frost. He refused to be interviewed but gave us these statements: "Dr. Mekhail certainly denies the allegations being made against him. " (Dr. Mekhail) says he acted appropriately in the care of [these patients]." Dr. Mekhail continues to advertise for patients needing or wanting cosmetic surgery.

Attorney's for Veronica and Marqueta say they are preparing the malpractice lawsuits. As for the state investigation by the board of medical examiners, no details will be released until it has concluded. It is a slow process that could take months. We'll let you know when there is a decision.

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