Florida health officials this week took steps to revoke the medical license of a Miami cosmetic surgeon accused of severely injuring at least four patients in May 2015 while performing liposuction and another procedure known as a “Brazilian butt lift.”
The administrative complaint filed by the Florida Department of Health requests that the state’s Board of Medicine, which regulates physicians, permanently yank the medical license of Dr. Osakatukei “Osak” Omulepu, who practiced at at Spectrum-Aesthetics Center for Cosmetic Surgery and Vanity Cosmetic Surgery, both in Miami.
Omulepu could not be reached for comment. Yelina Angulo, an attorney representing Vanity Cosmetic Surgery, said Omulepu is not an employee of the clinic but that he used the facility to perform surgeries. Omulepu is no longer performing surgeries at Vanity, she said.
The doctor has 21 days from the day he receives the state’s complaint to dispute the charges, accept them or negotiate a settlement. A settlement would require approval from the Board of Medicine at a public hearing.
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If Omulepu, 43, chooses to dispute the charges, then he will face a hearing akin to a trial before the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings. State health officials likely would call on the testimony of witnesses, including the four patients.
The injured patients, women ranging in age from 29 to 35, were not named in the state’s complaint, which used their initials. The women underwent surgery with Omulepu during a period of three days in May 2015.
All of the patients’ injuries required hospitalization from three days to three months, according to a state emergency order issued in February, which barred Omulepu from performing liposuction and fat transfers to the buttocks.
In two of the cases, Omulepu is accused of repeatedly tearing the patients’ internal organs, including the liver and small intestine, causing severe blood infections and, in one case, acute kidney failure and respiratory failure.
Omulepu does not carry medical malpractice insurance, according to state records, and it’s not clear what legal recourse the injured patients have against the doctor.
While the patients cited in the state’s complaint are anonymous, two other former patients of the doctor said they, too, were hospitalized with infections and other injuries last year after Omulepu performed liposuction and fat transfers to the buttocks.
The Miami Herald contacted the women after they posted comments about the doctor on a cosmetic surgery referral website called RealSelf.com, where Omulepu has received high ratings. The women asked that the Miami Herald not use their names because they want their medical procedures to remain private.
“I feel like I was just used like a test dummy,” said one woman, a 27-year-old mother of three who traveled from St. Louis, Missouri, to Miami for her surgery in May 2015.
“I went to him to feel better about my body,” she said. “I feel even worse now. I completely, totally regret what I did. ... I feel stupid.”
The woman said she was hospitalized three times with serious infections in her legs and her back.
She said she spent about $6,000 for the cosmetic surgery, including travel expenses and fees to Spectrum-Aesthetics. Now, she said, she owes about $60,000 in medical bills for the hospitalizations, prescription antibiotics and other care.
What disappoints her most, she said, is that she spoke with Omulepu by phone almost daily prior to the surgery. But after she was hospitalized with the infections in Missouri, she said Omulepu would not return her calls.
“I feel damaged,” she said. “They sold me all these dreams, and then it's like when things go wrong, they're nowhere to be found.”
A second woman who traveled from Austin, Texas, to Miami for liposuction and a Brazilian butt lift in April 2015 said Omulepu also left her with serious infections and then disappeared when she reached out to him for help.
“I could be dead for all he knows. He doesn't know anything about me,” said the woman, a 28-year-old student at Texas State University.
The Texas woman said she had “treated” herself to cosmetic surgery after losing a lot of weight. She said she didn’t tell anyone that she was going to have cosmetic surgery.
“I was very naive,” she said. “I thought I could do this by myself.”
After returning to Texas, the woman said, she began to develop golf ball-sized indentations in her buttocks. She also felt faint and feverish. She went to an emergency room, where doctors admitted her for more than two weeks to treat her infections.
She said she now owes about $75,000 in medical bills related to the hospitalization and treatment for the infections. That’s on top of the $6,000 she spent for her cosmetic surgery at Spectrum-Aesthetics.
“Mentally, it really damages you,” she said. “You don’t know how bad it damages you.
“For a long time,” she said, “I thought it was my fault.”
The plastic surgeon promotes his work in numerous videos on YouTube showing graphic close-ups of surgeries. In one video Omulepu says, “My specialty that I love to do is the Brazilian butt lift. I'm known to be very aggressive when it comes to liposuction.”
Omulepu is not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, according to state records. The Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons advises consumers considering plastic surgery to research their physician and to look for board certification and membership in a medical society for plastic surgery.
The Texas woman said she’s now consulting with a certified plastic surgeon in the hopes that a new doctor can repair the cosmetic damage she attributes to Omulepu.
“I’m not the same way I used to be,” she said. “I don’t look the way I used to look.”