A 23-year-old Nicaraguan woman used to go to a Flagler Street beauty salon for a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow waxing. But before a wedding three years ago, she decided to visit Bella Beauty for a little something more — cosmetic surgery — to transfer fat from her abdomen to her buttocks.
Stephanie Rodriguez wound up in a Coral Gables hospital, diagnosed with a drug overdose, cellulitis on her right buttocks and an infected ulcer. She had sores all over her body and underwent a blood transfusion. During the procedure, an unlicensed doctor used an anesthesia cocktail consisting of Benadryl, Xanax and Lorzapem.
Her hospital bills totaled about $205,000.
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Last week, a Miami-Dade judge ordered Bella Beauty, owner Maribel Jimenez and unlicensed physician Mark David Schreiber to pay the woman $818,000 in damages for her injuries from the cosmetic surgery. A trial was held for damages only because both sides previously agreed on the cause of Rodriguez’s injuries.
“Rodriguez undisputedly suffered permanent injury, in the form of scarring on her buttocks, as a result of a post-surgical ulcer,” Circuit Judge Bronwyn Miller found.
In the order, the judge said Rodriguez “testified that prior to the surgical procedure, she enjoyed spending time at the beach and with family and friends. After the surgery ... Rodriguez began to suffer from anxiety, insomnia and restlessness. She remained weak and feeble.”
Rodriguez’s attorney, Christopher Russomanno, said many of Bella Beauty’s customers “have been affected by this type of behavior ... and at least justice has been served for one individual that has been injured.”
Bella Beauty, which closed at the end of 2015, is now at the center of a federal criminal case involving its former owner, Jimenez, and her assistant, Magaly Del Rosario. Both women were charged in February with using smuggled liquid silicone from Colombia for injections to augment hundred of their customers’ buttocks.
They’re accused of using “adulterated and misbranded” silicone as well as similarly altered prescription drugs, including Lidocaine and Botox.
Buttocks enhancements, for pumping up and rounding out the rear, are big business in South Florida — in clinics both legal and illegal. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved liquid silicone for butt enhancements.
Jimenez, 48, and Del Rosario, 47, who pleaded not guilty, are scheduled for trial at the end of July in Miami federal court. Schreiber, whose Florida medical license was revoked in 2008, is a defendant in the case.