MANILA, Philippines -- A 50-year-old woman who has accused cosmetic surgeon Dr. Victoria ?Vicki? Belo and another doctor for allegedly botching a facial procedure submitted a complaint-affidavit to the Makati City prosecutor?s office on Thursday.
Leila Palaganas said she flew in from the United States, where she works, to submit the documents against Belo, owner of the Belo Medical Group, and Dr. Jennifer Sison, who performed the procedure in July 2008.
Palaganas had earlier filed a case for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries against the two doctors. She is seeking P20 million in damages for the permanent scars on her face she said were caused by "Thermage," a procedure supposed to tighten the skin and reduce wrinkles.
At the preliminary investigation on Thursday, Palaganas? lawyer, Arnold Naval, said the medical certificates and prescriptions issued by Belo?s clinic were an admission that his client suffered adverse effects after the procedure.
"The certificates issued by Sison states that my client underwent Thermage and that she developed swelling. This is very important to our case because there should not have been any [swelling], as claimed by the Belo group on their website," he said.
He quoted the Belo website as claiming the procedure requires "no downtime from normal activities" and that the skin should feel "tighter, smoother and more youthful" immediately after a session.
In her prescription, Sison recommended Burrow's Compress, said to be an "astringent wet dressing to relieve inflammatory conditions of the skin such as insect bites, swelling, allergies and bruises."
In her affidavit, Palaganas said she returned to the clinic three days after the procedure and was given a "lymphatic drainage and certain light therapy" on her face.
"The said procedures were done at no extra cost, which is an admission that something was wrong due to the Thermage procedure," she said.
But she said she shouldered the cost of another prescribed lotion that caused peeling without removing the scars.
Although only Sison performed the "non-surgical" procedure meant to tighten her skin and smooth wrinkles, Palaganas included Belo in the case because she owns the clinic.
"I went to her clinic because I thought her doctors were competent based on what had been coming out in the media. Since I wanted to look good, I sought their clinic because I thought it was the best. I was wrong," Palaganas told reporters.
She said she came to the Philippines in July to undergo the procedure as a "gift" to herself ahead of a 50th birthday celebration her husband intended to throw for her in August.
"Because of my irreversible facial injuries, I lost my self-confidence, always conscious that I have to constantly hide my permanently damaged face. I work at the front desk of the operating room of a hospital in New Jersey, where I am the first one to meet and deal with patients and doctors. This is a daily tragic experience for me, for which Dr. Belo and Sison should be held liable," said Palaganas.
Despite the damage, Palagans claimed that neither Belo nor Sison have formally offered to examine her or perform corrective surgery.
"I want Dr. Sison to see what she did to me because I'll be leaving again soon. But I have not seen any effort on her part," she said.
Naval said an out-of-court settlement might be possible but that no such negotiations are taking place.
"It depends but at the moment my client is very disappointed because she was a patient yet hindi siya hinaharap [they?re not facing her]," he said.