When Cecilia “CeCe” Cervantes heard about the death of Delma Pineda after undergoing plastic surgery at CG Cosmetic Surgery of Miami, Cervantes dropped to her knees and cried.
The two women never met, but Cervantes said her own story was close to Pineda’s, although with a less tragic ending.
Cervantes, 47, traveled from her home in Hayward, California, to South Florida in late October to undergo cosmetic surgery with Dr. Scott Loessin at CG Cosmetic Surgery, then at 1800 SW 27th Ave.
But she says that from the start she did not like the rushed approach of employees of the clinic, which one of her daughters recommended after she underwent successful breast surgery just a month before.
Cervantes told el Nuevo Herald that her surgery was scheduled for Nov. 2 but was postponed until Nov. 4 because she insisted on confirming that she was in good health before undergoing the procedures, which would include breast augmentation and lift, liposuction and tummy tuck.
“I told them that I wanted to have all my medical exams ready before the surgery,” said Cervantes, who was born in Mexico but has lived in the United States since she was a child. The employees answer, she said in a phone interview, was always the same: “Doll, don’t you worry about it.”
When she arrived in Miami, employees at CG Cosmetic Surgery gave her an appointment with a different medical center for one her exams.
But the results of Cervantes’ mammography were not ready by Nov. 4 and her procedures were again postponed at her insistence, despite the repeated assurances from clinic employees that everything would be fine.
“How could I undergo breast surgery without waiting for the results of the mammogram?” said the woman.
With all the medical checks done, Cervantes finally arrived at the clinic the morning of Nov. 6 for her surgery. But the demeanor of staffers continued to surprise her.
She repeatedly asked the staffers for prescriptions for her post-surgery medicines, so that a friend who had accompanied her for the trip could get them at a pharmacy and have them ready by the time she left the clinic. She said she was repeatedly told, “Doll, don’t you worry about it.”
Just minutes before the procedures, she remembers asking Dr. Loessin again about her recovery. She was told that she would be walking in a week, driving in two and exercising in three to four, Cervantes said. “The doctor lied to me,” she emphasizes.
A lawyer representing the clinic did not respond to el Nuevo Herald for comment.
After the surgery, Cervantes said, nurses woke her up but there was no doctor in her room. Then, she does not remember much else and her friend later told her she seemed out of it. The next day her “friend even took a video of me because she thought I was going to die.”
The video, made available to el Nuevo Herald, shows a visibly swollen Cervantes, dressed in a light colored nightgown and seated at the clinic, her eyes closed and seemingly disconnected from everything going on around her. Some people offer her water, but she does not respond.
Cervantes was at the clinic for a follow-up visit with a different doctor.
Over her next two weeks in Miami, Cervantes suffered unbearable pain but was told not to worry, that it was all normal when she asked clinic staff for help.
Cervantes also had problems with Anita's Recovery, the center recommended by CG Cosmetic Surgery. She said the center evicted her 9:30 one night because she complained that the air conditioning was too cold.
Her nightmare did not end when she left Miami. When she returned to California, she went to a Kaiser hospital because the pain was not diminishing and she felt “a little ball” under her belly button that bothered her.
Doctors told her she had an infection because a suture had not allowed the incision to heal.
Although the infection is now over, Cervantes said, four months after the procedures she still cannot sleep on her side, she suffers from cramps in her arms, one breast remains painful and with a burning sensation and she has not been able to do any exercises.
“I can’t use bras or jeans because it’s painful. My life has changed completely because of that surgery,” she said.
Cervantes also complained that her liposuction was not performed, even though she paid for it. “Thank God, because maybe I would have died,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Delma Pineda, 44, a medical assistant born in El Salvador, underwent surgery for breast augmentation and lift, liposuction and tummy tuck at CG Cosmetic Surgery. Clinic documents identified her doctor as Scott Loessin.
The next day, Pineda collapsed in the bathroom of the home of friend Cindy Barahona and died at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Barahona told el Nuevo Herald that the clinic went ahead with the procedures even thought she did not undergo an ultrasound because the testing place where she was sent had closed for the day.
Barahona also complained that Pineda was allowed to leave the clinic at 9:30 pm without any pain medication. She was given a prescription, but they could not find an open pharmacy on their way because of the late hour.
A lawyer for CG Cosmetic, Daniel Simon, sent el Nuevo Herald a statement saying the clinic “has been in touch with the (Pineda) family throughout this process. It is our preliminary understanding that the events that caused this incident are not related to the services of CG Cosmetic.”
“We are following this case closely and will cooperate with any investigation of the cause of this incident,” the statement said, adding that the clinic “has served thousands of satisfied clients in the South Florida community for the last 20 years.”
CG Cosmetic Surgery has links with the clinic previously known as Coral Gables Cosmetic Surgery, where Linda Pérez underwent breast augmentation surgery on Aug. 12, 2013. The then 18-year-old was in a coma for the next two weeks and suffered brain damage as the result of a heart attack.
Follow Johanna A. Álvarez on Twitter: @jalvarez8.