JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two weeks after The Florida Times-Union reported on lawsuits filed against a well-known plastic surgeon accusing him of enlarging their breasts more than they wanted, 10 women shared nearly identical experiences with the newspaper and another 141 have contacted a law firm.
The women who filed lawsuits say Loren Clayman, a Jacksonville plastic surgeon, disfigured their breasts, caused burning pain they still live with and now they question if he profited from subsequent surgeries aimed at fixing their problems.
Now additional women are telling the Times-Union similar things happened to them.
One woman said she just wanted B-cup-sized breasts. Instead, the augmentation produced far bigger breasts, each, she said, an obviously different size.
Another woman said she can't feel her nipples, only constant burning.
"I had a baby, and it wasn't even as bad as this surgery," said Jacqui Moore. She said she wanted a surgery to tighten her breasts after she spent 18 months breast-feeding her child.
This story originally appeared on the Florida Times-Union:
Moore said her implants hardened and Clayman performed a second surgery. She filed her suit against Clayman on Tuesday, becoming the fourth woman in the past year to sue Clayman.
"I have spent countless nights crying over this. I don't want this to happen to anybody else," she said.
Her attorney, Chris Shakib, said Wednesday morning he was reviewing the stories of the 141 women who called him before beginning the pre-suit process for them.
Clayman declined comment through his attorney. "We'll evaluate any new claim as we become aware of them," attorney Duke Regan said.
PAIN ALL THE TIME
"I still have pain in it all the time," said Holly Bentley, who underwent four surgeries by Clayman starting when she was almost 21 in about 2002. She said he made her breasts much bigger than she wanted. She has not contacted an attorney. "It seems like he took advantage of girls our age."
"There's a common thread," said attorney Shakib. He said every time a patient asked to be a little bigger, "he makes them crazy big in a way they never asked for."
Here's the way Clayman's former patients and Shakib say it worked:
Loren Clayman and his son Mark are plastic surgeons who lease space from St. Vincent's Medical Center. They've run ads every month in Mint and Money Pages magazines, touting that for decades Folio Weekly readers voted them best plastic surgeon or best doctor.
For $3,750, the women said they paid for everything — the breast surgery, implants, the warranty on the implants that cover any potential leaks or defects. That's about half the price the women said they were quoted at other clinics.
Some of the women reported waking up in the middle of the surgery, though they didn't feel the pain of the surgery. After surgery, each of the women who talked to the Times-Union said her breasts looked much larger than she expected and they were uneven.
They said Clayman assured them not to worry, their breasts were just swollen.
Then, in many cases about six months to a year later, the women said they needed another surgery to repair the first surgery. Don't worry, they said Clayman assured them again, the problems are caused by leaking implants, or bad posture, or too much exercise.
Because of the implant warranty, he billed $1,200 to Allergan, the implant manufacturer, for follow-up surgery, records showed.
When that surgery didn't work, he repeated the process until the women gave up, his former patients said.
Two of the women said in lawsuits they underwent five surgeries before they stopped going to Clayman for more surgeries.
Some tried to seek legal help, but at first glance, it appeared their cases expired because of the statute of limitations — two years from when they knew or should have known about possible malpractice.
To overcome that, their attorneys must argue that Clayman deceived the women, misleading them about the nature of the problem by blaming the implants.
That's the plan for Shakib, who already has four lawsuits filed, and Fred Tromberg, a lawyer with four more clients in the pre-suit stage against Clayman.
Both attorneys said they will get paid only if they are successful.
There's also no way of knowing if other women previously settled lawsuits with Clayman. Before filing in court, the women must request their medical records, find another plastic surgeon who agrees that Clayman's medical treatment was bad, notify Clayman that they intend to sue and then wait.
If Clayman and the women choose to settle before suits are filed, there's no public record of anything, unless the settlement exceeds $100,000 and he is supposed to report it to the state medical board.
Clayman also faced three lawsuits in the 1990s, but records weren't available for those suits.
RARE FOR SIZE TO DIFFER
Scot Glasberg, a Manhattan plastic surgeon and immediate past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, wouldn't comment specifically on Clayman's case, but he did talk in general about breast surgeries.
He said he tells patients he might have to make the implant larger or smaller, depending on what he discovers during the surgery.
It's rare, he said, for women to come out of the surgery with significantly different size breasts.
Also, he said, thanks to surgical advances, it's rarer now for implants to harden.
He does tell the women there's about a 1 percent chance of a rupture each additional year, so the likelihood of a rupture increases with time.
The patients' most pain, he said, comes the first night, but pain should go away after that.
He also said even with the product warranty paying $1,200, he usually still charges patients for later surgeries to fix leaking implants because those procedures aren't cheap to do.
Though the Florida Department of Health's website says Loren Clayman doesn't have any disciplinary history, that's not true.
A spokesman said that's because the website only maintains data going back about 15 years, though that isn't explained when the website says "No Emergency Actions Found," "No Discipline Found," and "No Public Complaint Found."
Three times in the 1980s, the state found probable cause for charges against him, according to health department records.
Once, he left a surgical sponge inside a woman's breast and removed her tissue instead, according to a finding.
The sponge was removed, state records said, six years later by a different doctor.
Two other times, the state found he didn't keep proper records for his medications.
All three times, the state gave him letters of guidance and closed the cases.
Shakib said a Department of Health investigator contacted him about an investigation into Clayman after the Times-Union's previous story in December.
The state department can't confirm investigations until 10 days after probable cause is found, a spokesman said.
About seven years ago, Jessica Cathey was 19 and newly married when she said Clayman gave her breast implants.
Six months later, she said, one breast was significantly larger than the other, and one breast felt as hard as a softball under her skin.
She said Clayman told her the problem was caused by an implant leak. The follow-up surgery would be free because she bought a warranty on the implants, she said.
"I didn't really do much research," Cathey said. "I was young. I was 19. I had just always wanted to have them done. And the price was good comparatively."
The result was not what she expected. She and some of the other women said they were uncomfortable with Clayman's demeanor and what they considered crass language they said he used when referring to their breasts.
The two surgeries, she said, left her with breasts in far more pain and far larger than the B cup she was looking for.
She said a different surgeon told her the implants were overfilled.
A lawyer told her she couldn't file a lawsuit, she said, because the statute of limitations expired, and she hadn't contacted Shakib or Tromberg.
After Holly Bentley had surgery in about 2002, she said, she was concerned because her breasts were far larger than she wanted.
She went through four more surgeries, she said. Each time, she said, she received larger implants than she requested. And once, she said, she awoke during the surgery.
The pain and complications continued. Each time, Clayman said there was a leak, Bentley said.
She said he replaced them but problems persisted.
"When you talk to a doctor, you trust what they say," she said.
She said he answered her questions, usually blaming the implant's defects. She never imagined other women experienced similar problems with the same doctor.
Even now, 14 years later, she said she suffers from pain in her left breast.
Times-Union writer Sebastian Kitchen contributed to this report.
Andrew Pantazi: (904) 359-4310