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Woman Wins Right to Criticize Surgeon on Website 250

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-it-like-it-is dept.
Scoopy writes "The website of a cosmetic surgery patient critical of her Sacramento surgeon's work is protected free speech, an appeals court said in an opinion that could have statewide implications. The website contains before and after photographs of 33-year-old Georgette Gilbert, who said the surgery left her with one eyebrow higher than the other and a surprised look permanently affixed to her face. The website was challenged in a defamation suit filed by surgeon Jonathan Sykes, a prominent professor and television commentator on the subject of cosmetic surgery. Although the Sacramento-based 3rd District Court of Appeal only mentions Sykes, the opinion suggests that others who use 'hot topics' of public interest in their advertisements and promotions may shed protections against defamation afforded to ordinary citizens."
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Woman Wins Right to Criticize Surgeon on Website

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  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:06AM (#17930788) Homepage
    ...The woman looked very surprised at the verdict.
    • by magicchex (898936) <mdanielewicz@gmaPARISil.com minus city> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:10AM (#17930816)
      Honestly, she looked fine before the surgery. She claims she was at a low point in her life and so on, and didn't even consider surgery till only 3 weeks before she got it. What do you expect when you make such a serious decision on such short notice while admittedly depressed?
      • by fredrated (639554) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:30AM (#17930988) Journal
        "What do you expect when you make such a serious decision on such short notice while admittedly depressed?"

        Are you saying that under these circumstances one should expect a shitty job? What, does your depression somehow affect the surgeon?
        • by magicchex (898936) <mdanielewicz@gmaPARISil.com minus city> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:35AM (#17931024)
          What I mean is that when you're depressed and willing to go under the knife three weeks after you first considered the option, you're obviously not doing the sort of research and thinking that should go into this kind of decision. Of course the doctor is still at fault for botching the surgery but she probably could have avoided the entire ordeal if she went about it a little smarter.
          • Well, as a general rule, I'd expect that the "director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at UC Davis Medical Center." is, at worst, not likely to be a fly-by-night quack.

            No matter how good he is, however, a bad result is always a possibility (even if remote). That this woman ended up on the short end of the stick still doesn't affect the validity of her tail -- if only as a warning of what really can go wrong if you're unlucky. I know one woman who is intensely ashamed of her breasts as a result of the side effects of augmentation surgery. She will no longer wear revealing clothing, because it's too likely to expose the scarring.

            That's not the kind of information that you're likely to get in the advertising brochures, or the 'reality television' shows that ("incidently") highlight a different plastic surgeon every week.

            • by balloonhead (589759) <(doncuan) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:35AM (#17931628)
              surgeons say that if you haven't had enough complications, you haven't done enough surgery. They are a statistical thing. The guy clearly is well qualified, and perfectly capable of doing the surgery, technically.

              The difficulty here is whether or not she can complain about it - and I would say that she can, but not the way she has done.

              Calling it a 'botch' implies that it was done badly. The only way to check this is to look at perhaps the last 1000 patients and see if his results are acceptable or not. Medical confidentiality would mean this would have to be done by internal audit, unless those patients volunteered (which would likely mean all the unhappy customers come forward, skewing results).

              Maybe if she could prove he was drunk during the operation or something that would also qualify.

              As it is, I think it is fair for her to put up before and after pictures, say who did the surgery, say that she is unhappy, and really do all sorts of free speech things that don't amount to libel.

              What if he has the best results of any surgeon, ever, and this is the first 'poor' outcome? That hardly makes it a botch - just her more unlucky.

              About 2% of medical negligence cases are found against the doctor. There are often a lot of emotional issues - and she has admitted to these.

              I will assume that she also signed an informed consent document which listed all the possible adverse outcomes - such as disfigurement, scarring, infection, death, spontaneous combustion. Maybe she should have weighed up those small but significant risks beforehand a bit more.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Mistlefoot (636417)
                The last 1000 patients have nothing to do with her case.

                That is like arguing that the car accident that I just caused was not my fault, as statistically speaking I drove the previous few 100,000 miles without an accident and was, statistically due.

                There is an inherent risk every time I drive that something may go wrong but I am still responsible for any accident that happens IF I messed up.

                I have no idea whether or not he messed up but clearly stats have little to do with that.
                • by balloonhead (589759) <(doncuan) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @07:01AM (#17932420)
                  The last 1000 patients tell you if his outcomes are as expected, better than expected, or worse than expected.

                  As I already said, complications are a statistical fact regardless of whether the surgeon makes mistakes or not.

                  If he did the surgery expertly, and the poor outcome was for reasons other than what was in his control - then that's simply not his fault.

                  This has no comparison to driving. This is accepted medical fact, studied at length by a great number of researchers, with consistent findings of rates of infection in a number of circumstances.

                  If she had died unexpectedly as a result of the anaesthetic - statistically a 1 in 250 000 chance - then that's out of his control.

                  If she had a post-operative infection - for this surgery about a 2-5% rate could be expected (I would expect her to be closer to the 2%) - then as long as he has followed accepted practice (aseptic technique, good wound closure, not too heavy on the diathermy, good haemostasis, a few others) - then again, this is a statistical fact.

                  If we find that he has a 20% infection rate compared to his peers, who have a similar case load and all have a 2% infection rate - then we can raise issues of incompetence.

                  This is long established. Ultimately, I also have no idea whether he was at fault or not - all I am saying is that sometimes, despite the best will and ability in the world, the outcomes are not ideal, and this is what needs to be established before accusing him of anything.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by Eivind (15695)
                    True. But did you look at the page ?

                    Sure she blames the Doc (and as you say: he may or may not be to blame, allthough he *did* have 13 malpractice-suits against him, lost 9 of those)

                    But the overwhelming impression from reading the pages is "Be careful with plastic surgery.", it's not a risk-free as their marketing will have you believe, and it *doesn't* magically improve your life.

                    This is unquestionably good advice. Furthermore, even if it was infact bad advice (which it isn't!) free speech means you'

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by FrostedChaos (231468)
                  This is insightful? More like stupid.

                  There are lots of reasons why a car accident might not be the fault of the driver. Perhaps the driver's car was assembled improperly in the factory. Maybe someone else on the road was driving like an idiot. Maybe there was a medical emergency that nobody could have predicted.

                  If you have a stroke, and lose control of your body, and crash your car into a bus full of schoolchildren, you are not guilty of manslaughter. Assuming that there is no pre-existing medical condition
              • by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:31AM (#17931900) Journal

                Calling it a 'botch' implies that it was done badly. The only way to check this is to look at perhaps the last 1000 patients and see if his results are acceptable or not. Medical confidentiality would mean this would have to be done by internal audit, unless those patients volunteered (which would likely mean all the unhappy customers come forward, skewing results).
                Well, I would add that done badly from clumsiness or from mistakes. that being said, she did win a malpractice case against him for this surgery dor around 13mill before making the website.

                We heard about this back in 2006 [slashdot.org]
                . It was pretty amazing that she got it overturned.
                • by sumdumass (711423)
                  umm... thats the wrong link. And i don't seem to be able to find the right one.
                • (See both other posts, original and other in same thread)

                  I agree about the clumsiness/mistakes part - I am just saying that has to be established. All I am saying is that if his outcomes are generally average, or better than average, and no evidence of actual bad practice can be found (very difficult when she was under anaesthetic during the procedure, and had no non-partisan witnesses), and she underwent the procedure with informed consent, and her poor outcome was part of the complications listed in that
                • That's the best website she could make with $13million in her account???
              • by joshetc (955226)
                The hell are you talking about? If his last 1000 cases were good and this one sucked it is a "botch". If his last 1000 cases sucked and this one sucks he is just a shitty surgeon.

                Reference: botch [reference.com]
            • by saboola (655522) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:47AM (#17932848)
              That this woman ended up on the short end of the stick still doesn't affect the validity of her tail

              He added a tail too? No wonder she is pissed.
          • by AK Marc (707885)
            What I mean is that when you're depressed and willing to go under the knife three weeks after you first considered the option, you're obviously not doing the sort of research and thinking that should go into this kind of decision.

            That is correct, and quite obvious. However, it is irrelevant to the quality of the surgery. Bringing it up smacks of blaming the victim. If that was not your intention, then you should not have brought it up.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Lloyd_Bryant (73136)

              What I mean is that when you're depressed and willing to go under the knife three weeks after you first considered the option, you're obviously not doing the sort of research and thinking that should go into this kind of decision.

              That is correct, and quite obvious. However, it is irrelevant to the quality of the surgery. Bringing it up smacks of blaming the victim. If that was not your intention, then you should not have brought it up.

              More to the point - did the doctor take advantage of her depression to line his pocket with a few more bucks? A reputable plastic surgeon should, IMO, try to counsel people against having plastic surgery if he/she notices signs of depression. All too often, however, these alleged professionals are simply trying to maximize their cash flow, without regard to what's best for the patient.

              There are a few cases where the victim shares part of the blame. For instance, if the doctor warns the patient that beca

      • by CortoMaltese (828267) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:40AM (#17931412)

        Honestly, she looked fine before the surgery.
        We could just post the pics to hotornot and see which one comes out as the winner. Cutornot?
  • Link to the website (Score:5, Informative)

    by magicchex (898936) <mdanielewicz@gmaPARISil.com minus city> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:07AM (#17930794)
    Here's a link to the actual website, [mysurgerynightmare.com] http://www.mysurgerynightmare.com/ [mysurgerynightmare.com]
    • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:12AM (#17930824) Homepage Journal
      Sad thing about that website is that she looked pretty good in the 'before' photo [mysurgerynightmare.com]. People should realise the risks of any surgery before they make minor cosmetic changes to their appeaarance.

      Also, TFA is reg-required (Do I really want to spend x minutes signing up & agreeing to God know what on a paper I'll never read again?). So, for your reading pleasure the story from metnews [metnews.com].

      Lastly, shouldn't that headline read: Woman's Right to Criticize Surgeon on Website upheld
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by magicchex (898936)
        Yeah, she looked fine. I'm not sure what she was thinking making a decision like that, but I'm not really surprised it ended up like it did. Here's another link to the article from the summary, no registration needed this time: http://www.sacbee.com/101/v-print/story/119961.htm l [sacbee.com].
      • by anagama (611277)
        Interesting, it didn't ask me to register while I had noscript on -- I just went straight to the content. As soon as I allowed the site to run scripts, it asked me to login and didn't show content.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Feyr (449684)
        she looked like crap before, and she still look like crap after.

        her eyebrows don't seem straight in the "before" picture to me and the lighting look like it has been rigged to make her look worse in the "after" picture.

        but i still agree with the verdict. she isn't satisfied with the service and is letting the world know. there's nothing defamatory about that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Korin43 (881732)
          Not to mention that her eyes are opened wider in the second one to make her look surprised..
        • by lendude (620139) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:12AM (#17931804)
          The 'after photo' definitely looks suspect - it appears as if the height v width ratios have been altered to create more length to the photo than was originally there. Put it back to it's 'correct' dimensions and she might just look a little surprised.
      • by omeomi (675045)
        Also, TFA is reg-required (Do I really want to spend x minutes signing up & agreeing to God know what on a paper I'll never read again?). So, for your reading pleasure the story from metnews.

        Username: bugmenot Password: bugmenot
      • by chimpo13 (471212) <slashdot@nokilli.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:14AM (#17931260) Homepage Journal
        Lastly, shouldn't that headline read: Woman's Right to Criticize Surgeon on Website upheld

        The Sacramento Bee has the headline, "Woman wins right to attack her plastic surgeon on the Web".

        Attack? What the hell?
        • Yeah, and that's our only real local paper...
          We used to have the Union as well, which carried almost a polar opposite political cast, but hey...
          -nB
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by RyoShin (610051)
          Someone must have invented a way to punch people in the face over the internet.
      • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:40AM (#17931410)

        People should realise the risks of any surgery before they make minor cosmetic changes to their appeaarance.
        Well it's going to be pretty hard to learn about the risks if everybody with a complaint gets muzzled, now isn't it? This lawsuit has the direct effect of protecting peoples' right to learn about the risks.

        But I guess we can't have that, now can we? It might be bad for business.

        To be honest I don't even see how this case went to trial. How can we claim to have freedom of speech if you can't even complain about somebody doing a poor job? If she had knowingly made a factually false claim, then I could see it.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Oh and by the way, I think it's entirely possible the surgeon did nothing wrong. When you're in a business for malcontents, you can expect to get criticism. (Witness the enormous and IMHO unjustified payout for silicone breast implants). But let me be the one to decide if somebody is just being whiny. Don't censor them.
          • by Don_dumb (927108)
            The thing is, if she says the operation was 'botched' and the surgeon did everything correctly, then isn't that libel? If she uses images after someone else has performed surgery, then again that seems libelous. Whether these happened or not I don't know, it doesn't really matter.

            She has every right to tell people about her story, but that doesn't mean she has the right to give false accounts that unfairly harms someone's reputation.

            I guess all the court has to decide is whether the 'botched' statements,
      • The second picture looks like it has been narrowed by about 10%. The eyebrow isn't as noticeable if you restore the image to its original aspect ratio.
      • by pipingguy (566974) *
        The "after" photo looks like someone subtly stretched it in the Y direction with an image manipulation program.
      • by darkonc (47285)

        Sad thing about that website is that she looked pretty good in the 'before' photo. People should realize the risks of any surgery before they make minor cosmetic changes to their appearance.

        Executive summary: Plastic surgery decisions are rarely rationality-based

        1. The purpose of PR is to generate a market where non exists (or, in some cases, should> exist). This includes plastic surgery.
        2. I had one girlfriend who everybody around me said that she was very beautiful in just about every way (and I agreed). Nonetheless, she decided to have a nose job. ... this despite complaining that she had to be careful about how she dressed, or she'd run the risk of causing traffic accidents.
        3. There
    • This one is one of my wife's favorites: http://www.awfulplasticsurgery.com/ [awfulplasticsurgery.com]
  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:11AM (#17930818)
    Seriously how the hell could this not be construed as free-speech? I mean she is simply providing information on a service she is unhappy about in the hopes of educating others. Jeez I'm getting more and more afraid to open my mouth every day.
    • by jpardey (569633)
      I am not going to bother to register to read the article, but I believe the key point is that it does not qualify as defamation, which is a crime, free speech or not. For instance, I could start a website with hello.jpg and the caption "WiiVault did this to me!" However, if it was not an obvious parody, or not true, you could sue me.

      Slander and libel are very odd. I forget, but somehow there is a burden on the defendant to prove that the offending statement was true, rather than for the plaintiff to prove
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WiiVault (1039946)
        Yeah I got the jist of it too and I think you are right on. The problem for me is that her site, which I read all of, is very respectfull and straight foreward. This guy has had TONS of lawsuits against him for malpractice and yet she doesn't ever personally attack him or suggest that he is an all around bag guy or doctor. Obviously there is the suggestion but she avoids the explicit. I hate it when people abuse the legal system especially to cover their own ass. Its even more offensive when they have lite
        • by jpardey (569633)
          Oh yes, frivolous lawsuits are never good. Those with the resources are able to beat those without into submission. I should have paid more attention to the page itself, but still... there needs to be a tort law system of some kind, but perhaps one that is not entirely run by lawyers... good luck on that ever happening without people doing something about it.
      • free registration (Score:3, Informative)

        by zCyl (14362)
        slashdot/slashdot was already registered and working by the time I got there.
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

      by slamb (119285) * on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:27AM (#17931598) Homepage

      Seriously how the hell could this not be construed as free-speech? I mean she is simply providing information on a service she is unhappy about in the hopes of educating others. Jeez I'm getting more and more afraid to open my mouth every day.
      According to the metnews story [metnews.com], the court decided (and the appeals court did not dispute) that the information she is providing is not true. Among other things, her "after" picture was also after four other surgeries from different doctors. So the information was false and damaging. The appeals court said that in this circumstance, it can't be considered defamatory unless the doctor proved her intent was malicious, and he hadn't done that. Apparently the woman's just crazy...
      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Informative)

        by zollman (697) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:08AM (#17932668) Homepage
        Short comment -- the rule for defamation of public figures is not "that her intent was malicious", it's that it was delivered with "Actual malice". This doesn't seem like a distinction to most laymen, but it turns out it is: "Actual malice" has a very specific legal definition in the U.S., and it doesn't require "malice".

        In this case "actual malice" means "knowledge that the information was false" or that it was published with "reckless disregard of the truth". This standard comes up quite a bit in when, for example, a celebrity sues a newspaper for publishing something false and damaging. The celebrity need not prove it was published with intent to harm, only that the newspaper didn't care whether it was true or not. In this case, the appeals court ruled that the doctor was a public figure, and so this standard applies. (For a non-public figure, like a neighbor or classmate who has done nothing to seek the spotlight, the court will accept a defamation claim even without proof of actual malice.)

        As with many things, the wikipedia article on actual malice [wikipedia.org] is helpful in explaining this distinction, but only a real lawyer -- and IANAL -- is qualified to interpret it for you.
      • by Fnkmaster (89084)
        I don't know, that wasn't crystal clear to me. Can you cite the exact line in the article that says that the court decided that the information she provided was not true? I think it's unclear from the article whether or not the surgeon's claims that the photos were misleading were true.

        The only thing that was clear to me is that the court decided he was a limited purpose public figure in this case, and that the website failed to meet the standard of "actual malice" in the posting of this information. As
  • by afaik_ianal (918433) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:12AM (#17930822)

    The Web site of a cosmetic surgery patient critical of her Sacramento surgeon's work is protected free speech, an appeals court said in an opinion that could have statewide implications.

    The Web site, www.mysurgerynightmare.com, contains before and after photographs of 33-year-old Georgette Gilbert who said the surgery left her with one eyebrow higher than the other and a surprised look permanently affixed to her face.

    The Web site was challenged in a defamation suit filed by surgeon Jonathan Sykes, a prominent professor and television commentator on the subject of cosmetic surgery.

    Although the Sacramento-based 3rd District Court of Appeal only mentions Sykes, the opinion suggests that others who use "hot topics" of public interest in their advertisements and promotions may shed protections against defamation afforded to ordinary citizens.

    "The decision makes it easier for professionals to get defamed and unable to defend themselves," said Daniel L. Baxter, Sykes's lawyer.

    First Amendment attorney Charity Kenyon agrees that the decision's reasoning could be applied to lawyers, optometrists, Realtors and other professionals.

    "The opinion is good protection for consumers who want to express opinions about services they receive, but professionals who promote themselves may have this burden if they think they have been defamed," Kenyon said.

    The court decision, which was released Jan. 26, may be binding on all California counties if it's not overturned by the state Supreme Court. According to the 32-page opinion, which can be viewed here, Sykes immersed himself so much in the public debate over the merits of cosmetic surgery that he became a public figure in the subject.

    Sykes, a UC Davis Medical Center professor, is also an author and has written numerous articles that have appeared in medical journals and beauty magazines. He has appeared on local television shows "touting the virtues" of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, the decision said.

    "In our youth and celebrity worshipping culture, the benefits and risks of plastic surgery are a hot topic. The number of people, especially women, who have had minimally invasive cosmetic surgery has grown exponentially in the past several years," said the opinion, written by Justice M. Kathleen Butz.

    "Sykes asserts that statements on the Web site do not contribute to the public debate because they only concern Gilbert's interactions with him. He is wrong," said Butz, who was joined in the opinion with justices Ronald B. Robie and Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.

    Baxter said that several statements and representations Gilbert made on her Web site were not true or were misleading.

    Baxter cited, for example, the statement Gilbert makes with her before and after photos: "I was told by my doctor that this was a good result - that I looked better after his surgery - what do you think?" Baxter said that when Sykes saw Gilbert, about 2 1/2 months after the surgery, he indicated that she was improving but "never made any indication relative to that picture, or how she was doing five months out."

    Gilbert's online comments also make it sound as if she was an unwitting patient who was pushed into plastic surgery, Baxter said. In fact, he said, she "directed (Sykes) to be very aggressive in carrying out the procedures."

    Gilbert's lawyer, William L. Brelsford, said true statements and personal opinions are not libelous under the Constitution's First Amendment. The decision, he said, is applying an old law to a new mode of communication.

    "Protected public debate is being extended to the Internet," Brelsford said.

    Gilbert posted her Web site early in 2005, a year after she filed a medical malpractice suit against Sykes. On the site, she offers advice about finding the "right" surgeon so that others can benefit from her "misfortune."

    She has a contact page where readers can share their experiences.

    Sykes counter-sued Gilbert claiming he was defamed, suffered emot

    • For those who do not want to register...
      Consider installing BugMeNot extension for Firefox. Right-click, choose "Login with BugMeNot", worked the first time.
       
  • Title Correction: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_REAL_sam (670858) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:14AM (#17930832) Journal
    You mean to say "woman defends right to criticize surgeon on website." She cannot win what she already had.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      Umm, they took her right away and she won it back on appeal.

      It is in the article, something about her protest being defimation of charector and being told to take it down. And because the surgeon was considered a public figure, he had to prove both that her speach was wrong and that she intended malice in her statments. Before the appeal, I guess he wasn't considered a public figure and neither had to be proven.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When asked for comment, Dr Jonathan Sykes said, "If I had to do it over again, I would have chopped off her hands".
  • I mean she looked pretty good before she hired someone to cut her up.

    Also, she probably should have done the malpractice research BEFORE the appointment.

    Wow. Just wow.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:22AM (#17930908) Journal
    In the picture on her website, I think looks like she might be helping the surprised look a little. The diffeence in the amount of her eyes showing between the two pictures of the before and after.

    Don't be fooled by it, It could be because of the same surgury that raised her eyebrows. But I wouldn't know.

    I sure would like to read the story but the link goes to some registration page. I'm not about to give any information do if someone has another link, it would be apriciated.

    BTW, isn't she the one who got arested or something a while back for her page?
    • Yeah. If she had just made a website with some pictures and a line that says "Results of operation, Jan 1 2006, Dr John Sykes." or something I would probably take her side. But her website is pretty blatant in purposely exaggerating her claim and sort of TRYING to defame the guy. I think she definately has the right to post her experience, but does NOT have the right to exaggerate her claim the way she does.
  • by gnurfed (1051140) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:25AM (#17930934)
    Slightly off topic, but what's really sad in this story is that the woman was pretty BEFORE the surgery. So there was really no reason for her to go under the knife in the first place. We live in a scary world where people strive to look unnatural (though this woman probably didn't get the unnatural looks she wanted).

    That said, it's great that we have plastic surgery for patients with actual disfigurements.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by WiiVault (1039946)
      On her site she answers your question with the most resonable and honost response I can imagine. She was feeling old being 30+ and unmarried and she had just split with a long-term boyfriend. She had know the doctor for 4 years and he had a respected title. I agree it was stupid but in our culture a woman's youthfull appearence is highly prized. Its really sad that she made this choice, but she should not be blamed for the horrible result. I just applaud her courage to show those pictures and take the embra
    • by Web Goddess (133348) * on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:37AM (#17932120)
      gnurfed said, "That said, it's great that we have plastic surgery for patients with actual disfigurements."

      My experience is that reconstructive surgery is deteriorating. Plastic surgeons are now learning to do cosmetic procedures, rather than reconstructive. I have a genetic defect with my eyelids, and had three surgeries as a child. Now decades later, I could use additionaladvanced reconstructive surgery to give my eyes a more reasonable appearance.

      Eyes are very important to our facial expressions, and although my friends think I look lovely, strangers sometimes do an unpleasant double-take when they see me.

      So I wanted to give it another shot, figuring reconstruction has improved since I was a poor child receiving free care.

      The Stanford geneticist recommended a Stanford specialist and I went to see him. The waiting room was filled with literature about "eye lifts" for regular, aging people. I consult with the doctor (and I secretly recorded the conversation) and he did his utmost best to talk me out of any surgery at all. I could tell he was floundering.

      I provided him records of what had been done, and suggested w2hat could be done, and made clear that I was not expecting miracles, just a slight improvement would be worth it.

      He called in his senior, and they spent the next four minutes trying to pass the buck and make the other person do the surgery. The way we left it, was they were going to "contact my insurance" and I never heard back, despite sevferal phone calls.

      These were Stanford Medical Center professionals, recommended by the geneticist who deals with birth defects, and THEY only wanted to do normal eyelid lifts. I was so disheartened, I never tried again.

      GRR.

      IMO way too fscking much money is spent on frivolous surgery.

      My story, and I'm too tired to be concise so I'll just... submit it.
  • Silly, silly girl (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigBadRich (849128) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:28AM (#17930962) Homepage
    It's amazing what people with low self-esteem will do to themselves. In this case she starts out (in my opinion) quite a gorgeous woman, and finishes looking like a cross between Cher and Marilyn manson (photos) [mysurgerynightmare.com].

    You'd think Michael Jackson would be enough of a deterrent for most people, but I guess you can never underestimate the power of low self-esteem.

  • by Kelz (611260)
    What a "shocking" story.
  • Patient's privacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MDMurphy (208495) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:55AM (#17931148)
    The part I've wanted to see discussed are the doctors rights to publicly rebut a site that complains about them. Under strict medical privacy laws it's not like a doctor could ( or should ) reveal medical details or photos in a public forum. So if a patient complains and sets up a web site, does that absolve the doctor in question from any requirements for maintaing confidentiality? When I heard about this and other similar sites, that was one of my first questions. If not, from a public opinion point of view they're screwed.

    I firmly believe that a patient should have the right to critisize their doctor, but I also believe the doctors should have the ablitly to defend themselves. I'd have liked to have seen part of a ruling that said they were no longer required to keep confidentiality for that particular patient.

    If the doctor is not in a position to put up a web site, with pictures and inimate details of a patient who's gone public, then that person should be refrained from going public. Since that's pretty hard to enforce retroactively the only recourse seems to view the patient's public proclamations as relinquishing all privacy rights with respect to the doctor or hospital involved.

    • The fact that a patient publicly announces reviews about a Doctor does NOT absolve the doctor from maintaining confidentiality about the patient.

      Protection of Free Speech is available to citizens as a whole. However confidentiality agreements between two parties that prevent disclosure of certain (Not all) facts overrules the free speech right, because the former is a right granted under the constitution, while the latter is a valid contract.

      It is the same reason why you are asked to sign confidential non-d
      • by MDMurphy (208495)
        Yes, this is the case, and it's an important inequity. But it would not be a "unilateral" release of information by the doctor if it was initiated by the patient.

        A patient can give a doctor permission to release their medical information. In some cases public disclosure and discussion should be considered a release. Just saying "I have cancer" would not be enough, but there there should be a point where the situation is no longer considered private due to the patient's own disclosure.

    • It's good in theory, but in practice, it's not so simple. For example, a solicitor (lawyer) like a trustee, is obligated to put the good of his client above his own good in his business transactions.

      I think the same thing applies here (the fiduciary duty); reference, Breen v Williams. Actually, the opposite of what I'm saying is true there, but it references other jurisdictions where the fiduciary duty is active and why.

      An interesting read, and relevant, in any case.

    • by darkonc (47285)
      Doctor confidentiality is not a one-way street. The profession also uses it to hide complaints from the public. The result is that a doctor with serious complaints against him/her can sometimes move to another state and start with a 'clean slate'. It is very rare that complaints to a medical board are made public (similarly for Lawyers, etc.).
    • You're entering a gray area. You can't just say if the patient publicly criticizes the doctor, the patient's privacy WRT to medical records goes out the window. What if, say, the patient has AIDS? While that might be an extreme case, where does one draw the line?

      In response to her public campaign, his recourse was to sue the patient, and a ruling was made. While you or I might not agree with the ruling, I think your suggestion is dangerous.

    • I think this is a really tricky gray area, but I think you have a point. I think I prefer a different solution. Require that the person doing the criticizing point out that the doctor is unable to effectively rebut due to privacy laws, or publicly state what sort of information it would be OK for the doctor to disclose in defending h(er/im)self.

      This lets people know that they may not be getting the whole story, or allows the patient to trade privacy for the perceived integrity of the story on h(er/is) ow

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kabocox (199019)
      I firmly believe that a patient should have the right to critisize their doctor, but I also believe the doctors should have the ablitly to defend themselves. I'd have liked to have seen part of a ruling that said they were no longer required to keep confidentiality for that particular patient.

      If the doctor is not in a position to put up a web site, with pictures and inimate details of a patient who's gone public, then that person should be refrained from going public. Since that's pretty hard to enforce ret
  • ka-ching$ (Score:3, Funny)

    by binarybum (468664) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:22AM (#17931298) Homepage
    her website will probably just shift the surgeon into a whole new money-making demographic - men badgered by their wives for not expressing enough interest in whatever it is they're talking about. With eyebrows like that, an occasional tilt of the head away from the football game (or WOW game here I suppose) gives the illusion of intense interest. You're never going to get the "Are you even listening to me?!" line with a brow like this-> http://www.mysurgerynightmare.com/images/ggbae_(2) .jpg [mysurgerynightmare.com]
  • by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:25AM (#17931322) Homepage Journal
    I've visited the web site in question [mysurgerynightmare.com], and I believe the surgeon has a point. It looks like the woman is using some of the same techniques shady businesses use to make before/after photos look different, but in reverse. These are:

    - One photo being done in a natural setting, one artificial.
    - One photo with a happy expression, one without
    - One photo with good lighting, one with very stark.
    - One photo with makeup, one without

    Some of this is related, but look. She insists one eyebrow is higher than the other and she is left with a permanent "surpised" look. This is quite possible, the eyebrow position can give that look, but raising the eyebrows would not have a significant effect on how wide her eye lids are open. Notice in the second photo she exadgerates her "surpised" look by opening her eyes as wide as possible. Add to that the camera in the before photo is slightly above her, and the angle difference adds to the effect. She is smiling in the first photo, which tends to close the eyelids a little and adjusts the eyebrow position.

    The makeup makes quite a difference to shading, and the after photo is in much more stark contrast, which elimates facial details.

    Also remember that the woman has filed a malpractice suit and stands to gain financially from seeming to look badly now.

    However the court ruled, I think the surgeon had a point.
    • by grimJester (890090) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:55AM (#17931480)
      Her face is much longer in the second pic (distance between hairline and chin compared to width of face). The pic could be photoshopped as well. The face in the left pic is 157 pixels from side to side, the right 140. Length goes from 225 to 240. Ratio goes from 1,43 to 1,71. Using the width of my own face as an approximation, it looks like that woman had her face lenghtened by two full inches. If you try to figure out what part(s) of her face could have been stretched this much, the conclusion would pretty much be that the picture has been evenly stretched. I mean, even her forehead is noticabely higher after surgery. Skull extension?

      The pic looks fake.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:25AM (#17932092)
      While you have a point, it is mitigated by the circumstances surrounding the photos.

      The entire point of make-up being to hide imperfections, it is unlikely that she would have a "before" photo without make-up, especially if she had low self-esteem about her looks. If she had such a clinical "before" photo of her own, there would be plenty of people arguing that it was proof of premeditation to sue the doctor.

      If she were to wear make-up in the "after" photo it would also mitigate the effects of the surgically created imperfections which would not help her point at all, she wants to demonstrate the problem, not cover it up. Also, one of the reasons women get such work done in the first place is to reduce their perceived need to wear make-up, so if the surgery had gone well, she would not be wearing as much make-up as she had been before the surgery.

      Similarly it is unlikely that she would have a "before" photo that wasn't happy, people don't like to take pictures of unhappy times in their lives. You can't expect her to pose for an "after" photo and look happy - she's taking the photo specifically because she is unhappy, it would be ridiculous to expect her to be all smiles about it. Because she feels extremely unhappy with her new looks taking a picture, even in an attempt to get restitution or correction, is going to be an unpleasant experience for her.

      Camera and angle and lighting are much more likely to be the result of the amateur nature of both photos than any sort of explicit plan to manipulate the viewer.

      So, while I agree that her presentation is not necessarily evenhanded, I really doubt that it was calculated. At the very worst, she probably picked one of her better looking "before" pics and one of her worst "after" pics, but that's no different from a plastic surgeon who does the reverse in his marketing materials.
    • as a protographer, myself, those pics show nothing scientific at all.

      all the comments were right about them: inconsistent lighting, face angles, expression - you name it!

      worst A/B shot I've seen. clearly not meant to be a real clinical before/after. or, they just CAN'T be THAT bad at taking simple 'stand here and smile' photos!!

      manual focus and manual exposure. controlled studio lights. same location same camera angle. is this rocket science? no, of course not.

      anytime I see a very poor A/B shot, I kno
  • A defamation lawsuit can server to deter others from speaking up, even if the Plaintiff looses the suit. This strategy is called a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)...making Free speech (against them) cost money.

    As a personal example, photos of mine were published in the local phone book (in a corporate advertisement) without my permission. When the corporation refused to compensate me, I wrote about it on my website. They then sued me for defamation.

    Do I have the certificate of cop

  • Her right eyebrow in the before photo was raised slightly, the surgery appears to have only exaggerated her natural condition. Of course I think she has every right to criticize the results.

    Also why does it look like she has an Adam's Apple [mysurgerynightmare.com]?
  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@NOSpaM.yahoo.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:34AM (#17931622) Homepage Journal

    ...the surgery left her with one eyebrow higher than the other and a surprised look permanently affixed to her face.
    Fascinating...
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:09AM (#17931794)
    The other side effect of the surgery was due to the tightly stretched skin she can't close her eyes when she's sitting down.
  • Deformation (Score:3, Funny)

    by NiceRoundNumber (1000004) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:26AM (#17931876)
    The website was challenged in a defamation suit filed by surgeon Jonathan Sykes

    Did anyone else read this as "deformation suit"??
  • From the article
    "Procedures: Endoscopic browlift, upper & lower blepharoplasty, cheeklift and fat injections"

    My first thought is if I lift my brows I look suprised.
  • That woman is lucky - I wonder who did Michael's face. His is probably the best known plastic butchery ever...
  • I love it. Speech is free. Talking about it in the newspaper is not.
  • Georgette had no comment after the ruling, but she appeared surprised.
  • by BillX (307153) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:41PM (#17942968) Homepage
    The ruling won't help; she's hosted on GoDaddy.

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