Dr. Rady Rahban

Dr. Rady Rahban Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Revisionist history

The average breast alteration last year in the U.S. cost $3,700, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

It can cost much more in Beverly Hills, which earns its status as the Capital of Plastic surgery with an estimated 500 cosmetic surgeons packed within its four square miles – more than the state of Rhode Island. The Beverly Hills surgeons are behind the fountain of youth that keeps some of the world’s best-known celebrities ready for their close ups, Rhaban said.

Dr. Kevin Brenner opened a private plastic surgery practice in Beverly Hills after two residencies and now specializes in restoring the appearance of the breasts and abdomen. He has published many peer-reviewed articles, as well as numerous chapters in plastic surgery textbooks.

Revision cases, he said, now make up 40 percent of his business.

The worst case, he said, was an exotic dancer who had numerous surgeries to enlarge her breasts – until one doctor ultimately packed in four implants. When one gland became infected, forcing a local hospital to remove the additions, she went decades with a grossly unbalanced chest until she could afford a fix.

A more recent case was a woman who had suffered five revision operations to one breast, then flew in to see Brenner for a sixth.

“The revisions are growing,” Brenner said. “Beverly Hills is a mecca for plastic surgery. Some of the best in the world work here. And when you have a real problem, you go to the best. They end up turning to me, or coming here, because they want it to be the last operation.”

Dr. Andre Panossian, a plastic surgeon who specializes in facial paralysis and nerve disorders, served for years at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles until opening a Beverly Hills practice. He has performed more than 5,000 cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries, and roughly two out of three are revision cases these days, he said.

It can sometimes take between six to eight hours to correct a badly done nose at a cost of between $12,000 and $20,000, he said. And that’s on top of the $6,000 to $10,000 the patient likely paid someone else for the nose job.

One of his worst cases was a woman in her 30s who came in with a “boxer’s nose,” he said, with a collapsed center, which bent left. It was her third corrective surgery.

“I do more revision surgeries than primary surgeries these days. It’s crazy,” Panossian said. “They’re usually people who go to other plastic surgeons in town and it hasn’t turned out so well. Or Mexico.”

Rahban, whose boutique practice on Wilshire Boulevard has drawn patients from around the world, says a quarter of his operations, and a third of his patient inquiries, are revision cases.

Call for transparency

Rahban has joined other plastic surgeons in demanding more transparency in a cosmetic surgery industry marred by misleading qualifications, hyped websites and fake reviews. He said there should be legislation to require doctors to disclose their training.

Some of the most trying cases, he said, are the one’s he’s forced to turn away. That includes a young woman in tears who came to see him after an unskilled doctor had removed much of her nose.

“The surgeon had clipped her nostrils, removed too much,” Rahban said. “She looked unrecognizable – and cut off much of her nostrils. And there was absolutely nothing I could do. It was horrific.”

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