Dr. Arian Mowlavi goes by Dr. Laguna and promotes himself as a world-renowned sculptor specializing in Vaser liposuction and BBL or Brazilian Butt Lift.
But a recent decision by the Medical Board of California now prevents him from doing Vaser lipo without further training and supervision. In the probation summary of the stipulated settlement, Mowlavi made no admissions but agreed to discipline including the monitoring of his practice by another doctor, and 10 years probation.
The same decision also included a 3-month suspension of his medical license based on the death of one of his patients after surgery. The original accusation by the medical board cited a diagnosis of “hemorrhage from surgical intervention leading to cardiac arrest” and alleged Mowlavi “committed gross negligence in his care and treatment of the patient.”
“This is life altering. It isn’t just that I didn’t get the results I wanted, it’s much more extreme than that,” said a patient who asked us to conceal her identity.
“Bobbie” says she’s embarrassed that she saw Mowlavi for liposuction around her bra line, but Bobbie says what was billed as a simple procedure nearly cost her her life.
This patient asked us to conceal her identity. “Bobbie” says she’s embarrassed that she saw Mowlavi for liposuction around her bra line. Bobbie says what was billed as a simple procedure nearly cost her her life.
“The people taking care of me started calling the office saying, ‘She’s really tired and nauseous and kind of dizzy,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, that’s normal,’” said Bobbie.
10 days after surgery, she collapsed and was in a coma for two weeks before waking up in the I-C-U. She spent the next 2 months in the hospital.
“It’s necrotizing soft tissue something,” she said. “What we hear of as like flesh eating bacteria.”
She says she had no idea that 3 months before her surgery, Mowlavi had paid a million-dollar settlement to the family of the woman who died after surgery. But that settlement is not part of Mowlavi’s record on the medical board website. Settlements will only appear if there are 3 or more in a 5-year period, and patient advocates complain not all settlements get reported to the medical board.
“I think that things need to change. I think that the laws need to change, I think the Medical Board needs to change. I mean, I’m a hairdresser and the State Board of Cosmetology is so on you, I mean for hair! Why isn’t it like that for doctors,” questioned Millie Martini.
Martini wanted a Brazilian butt lift with Vaser lipo and her breast implants removed. She says Mowlavi convinced her she needed a more expensive breast lift instead. The day of surgery, she says everything felt wrong. She said unlike previous surgeries, she was not given a surgical gown after they took “before” pictures of her nude.
“Then they proceeded to say, ‘Go to the surgery room,’ which was next door, without any clothes. I was naked,” said Martini. “I just remember in my head going, ‘Millie, you need to run.’”
But she didn’t, and like Bobbie, she says her situation quickly grew dire. Just hours after surgery, the nurse at the recovery center removed her bandages and Martini says she was shocked by what she saw.
“I looked down and I was like, ‘Holy smokes, what’s going on?’ My nipples are detached, they’re black and they’re oozing black. In fact, what I thought was a bruise was actually necrosis, and at that point I didn’t know what that was,” said Martini. She quickly learned it was dead tissue.
She says despite frequent visits to Mowlavi’s office, she later learned she had sepsis, a potentially deadly infection.
“I’m walking around in circles in my house, I’m completely grey, I’m talking gibberish, I’m not in my right mind. I physically felt like I was slowly just dying.
Her husband took her to the ER. Because of the severity of the infection, and Mowlavi’s immediate availability, she says she felt she had no choice but to have him operate again.
“I remember panicking, waking up, and I woke up to a double mastectomy,’ said Martini. “I was never told.”
Martini says she was horrified to find out the Medical Board of California had actually reached a decision about Mowlavi and the 2018 patient death in May 2022, but it wasn’t until October that decision took effect and Molwavi’s medical license was suspended. It was within that 5-month window, in August and before any discipline, that Martini had her surgery.
California Medical Board member TJ Watkins spoke out to the I-Team in November about his concerns with the agency. He can’t talk about specific cases, but I asked Watkins to speak generally about the delays between when a decision is reached by the board and when it’s enacted.
“It’s all explained under the spirt with which the Medical Board operates, and the spirt is doctor protection,” said Watkins. “When the doctor asks for accommodations, nine out of ten times the board will acquiesce.”
While Mowlavi’s medical license was suspended for 90 days, his wife’s Instagram account displayed a photo of him and his family vacationing at the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora, and his Laguna Beach office continued scheduling consultations.
Meanwhile, Bobbie will be paying off her decision to have surgery for years to come.
“It’s close to two million in medical bills,” said Bobbie.
Bobbie is part of a lawsuit with more than 30 other patients suing Mowlavi. That suit is on hold for now because Mowlavi has declared bankruptcy. Martini has also retained an attorney and is still fighting infections she says are related to her surgery with Mowlavi, which she’s still paying off. Reconstruction will cost her tens of thousands of dollars more.
“I think back, I just should have ran,” said Martini.
The I-team reached out to Arian Mowlavi’s attorneys who handled his case with the Medical Board and the current lawsuit, but they did not respond to our request for comment. Both Bobbie and Martini want the Medical Board to take further action against Mowlavi. The board, citing privacy concerns, cannot verify if any investigation is currently taking place. The suspension of Mowlavi’s medical license lifted on January 6, 2022.
Source: NBC Los Angeles