Delma Pineda, a San Francisco woman who died one day after undergoing cosmetic surgery in Miami, died from a brain hemorrhage possibly related to a rare congenital anomaly, according to the autopsy by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office.
The autopsy report, released Thursday, concluded that the 44-year-old medical assistant died from natural causes on March 6 because of a “possible hemorrhagic arachnoid cyst” in her brain.
“This is a very rare case,” said Dr. Sergio González-Arias, executive associate dean for clinical affairs at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. He was consulted as a neurologist and has no links to Pineda or her autopsy.
González-Arias said arachnoid cysts — fluid-filled sacs in the brain — are present in less than 2 percent of the population. Those that bleed are even more rare, he added.
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The neurologist, who also is the chief of neurological surgery at Baptist Hospital South Florida, said those types of cysts “don't have any grave consequences and rarely present symptoms.” People who do show symptoms usually suffer from headaches and convulsions.
Bleeding is usually caused by trauma or is spontaneous, he said.
“I don't see a relationship with the cosmetic surgery,” González-Arias said after reviewing the autopsy report. He added the anesthesia might have changed the pressure in Pineda's body and led to the bleeding, “but we cannot affirm that it is related to that.”
Dr. Scott Loessin, the doctor who performed Pineda's plastic surgery at CG Cosmetic in Miami, also said the patient's death was not related to her surgery on March 5.
“I wish this had not happened, but I don't know how we would have been able to prevent it. Her death had nothing to do with the surgery,” Loessin said in a telephone interview.
“I feel terrible for the patient, for her children and the whole situation. It's terrible.”
Pineda, a native of El Salvador, came from San Francisco to Miami to undergo breast augmentation, a tummy tuck, and liposuction at CG Cosmetic Clinic, 2601 SW 37th Ave.
She fainted the morning after in the Miami-Dade home of a high school friend with whom she was staying. Pineda was taken to Jackson South Community Hospital and died hours later.
Records of the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office show Pineda was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m. March 6.
Her friend, Cindy Barahona, told el Nuevo Herald after the death that she was concerned by two aspects of the surgery: that Pineda left the clinic very late, around 9:30 pm, and that the surgery was performed even though she did not have a pre-surgery exam required by the clinic.
Barahona said that on the morning of March 5, CG Cosmetic employees sent Pineda for an ultrasound at a medical center, but it was closed. When they returned to CG Cosmetic, employees went ahead with the preparations for surgery, she said.
CG Cosmetic employees said they could not comment on medical cases.
CG Cosmetic attorney Daniel Simon sent el Nuevo Herald a statement saying the clinic “has been in touch with the [Pineda] family throughout this entire process. It is our preliminary understanding that the events giving rise to this incident are unrelated to CG Cosmetic's services.”
Pineda was the mother of two children, ages 4 and 17. The youngest child was with her in Miami when she died.
The family launched a donations campaign to transport her body from Florida to California, where most of her family lives and where she had lived since 1993. More than $16,000 was collected.
CG Cosmetic Surgery has links to the former Coral Gables Cosmetic Surgery, the clinic where 18-year-old Linda Perez underwent breast augmentation Aug. 12, 2013. She wound up in a coma for two weeks and suffered brain damage.
Photos of Perez, weighing 30 pounds and unable to speak or move, were used in national and international campaigns to raise awareness about the risks of cosmetic surgery.
Over the past five years, Perez has gained some weight, can speak a few words, and stand alone for a few seconds. But her mother said doctors have told her Perez will never fully recover.
Florida corporate records show CG Cosmetic Surgery and Coral Gables Cosmetic Surgery have the same owner, Guiribitey Cosmetic & Beauty Institute, Inc, 1800 SW 27th Ave., Suite 302, Miami., 33145. The officer listed on the corporate record is Jacobo Guiribitey.
The Twitter account of Coral Gables Cosmetic Surgery has been changed to CG Cosmetic Surgery.