SCARRED FOR LIFE

THESE WOMEN FOUND OUT THE HARD WAY WHY THE COSMETIC SURGERY CLINIC THEY CHOSE WAS UNDER INVESTIGATION

But in the 1980s, millions of Americans joined the search for the perfect body. Vanity surgery for the masses became a hot item. Lips too thin? Stomach too big? Nose too long? Let us remake you, the doctors said. A newspaper story described one mother's birthday present to her fourteen-year-old daughter: "new" hips and thighs.

Recent scare stories have caused some women to think twice about artificially increasing their breast size with silicone implants. Still, about 250,000 American women will have their breasts surgically enlarged this year, according to industry estimates.

Plastic surgeons monopolized the field until the 1980s, when other doctors swooped in to grab their share of the booty, estimated by the feds at up to $3 billion a year. The public often equates plastic surgeons with cosmetic surgeons, but board-certified plastic surgeons undergo far more rigorous training than their cosmetic counterparts.

Baruch Rosen describes how he became an associate fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery in 1988. "Essentially, you have to demonstrate an interest in cosmetic procedures and an ability to perform certain procedures," he says. "At that time, I had performed a significant amount of chemical peels. I applied on that basis and was accepted."

Rosen says he sent the academy photographs and patient records of his 26 court deposition, "but he didn't have a lot of knowledge on all of it."

Lewis called Rosen and pitched him on the potential financial benefits of a cosmetic surgery practice. Lewis knew that Joe Naud, his old pal from Michigan, was considering a move to Arizona. He introduced Rosen to Naud over the telephone. A plan hatched. Lewis would be the marketing mastermind of a Rosen-Naud partnership in Scottsdale.

Lewis says he never asked Rosen much about his cosmetic surgery experience. "The law says that any doctor can do any surgery they want," Lewis says. "It's up to him to know if he's qualified or not . . . I didn't think you'd have to be a genius to do [breast implants]. The arrangement was that Naud would help Rosen, to teach him to do everything there is to do."

Naud and Rosen formed a corporation in early 1990. Lewis says the financial arrangement went as follows: The doctor who performed the surgery would get 30 percent of the fee. Lewis would be paid $1,000 a week plus bonuses. Naud would be in Arizona off and on at first, doing "liposuction, tummy tucks, breast enlargements, facelifts," Lewis says, and would soon move here for keeps.

The Cosmetic Surgery Center of Scottsdale opened for business in March 1990. Lewis admitted in his deposition that he knew Naud was practicing medicine without an Arizona license. "It ain't up to me to notify [BOMEX]," he explained. "He's a grown man, he's smarter than me. He went to college, medical school. If he wants to jeopardize himself, that's his problem."

But Naud had withdrawn his Arizona license application in February 1990, possibly after BOMEX investigators learned of sanctions he had faced in Michigan for improperly medicating patients. Naud apparently refiled his application in March 1990, but BOMEX records don't indicate whether he took the entrance test. Rosen and Lewis claim Naud told them he took the test last July, but flunked it.

Whatever the case, Sol Lewis quickly mounted a successful ad campaign for the new clinic. He says Naud earned up to $10,000 a month during his six months in Arizona. Rosen earned about $5,000 monthly during the same time. That would indicate that Naud was doing the lion's share of the surgeries.

But Rosen wouldn't admit to that, even after the clinic collapsed late last year. "Naud did not perform surgery," Rosen said during a sworn deposition last December 14. Naud, Rosen maintained, was simply in Arizona "in a teaching capacity." That echoed his statements in earlier interviews with BOMEX and the Scottsdale Police Department.

Now, Baruch Rosen is singing a far different tune.

"He did perform some surgical procedures," he says. "The first time I covered for him, he was alive and they [BOMEX] were being antagonistic toward him. At that stage, to me Joe Naud was the ultimate, he was my teacher."

"THERE WERE TIMES," says the Scottsdale clinic's former saleswoman-medical assistant Sharon Mesa, "when Dr. Rosen had to leave the room and call Dr. Naud in Michigan because he wasn't sure of what to do during a surgical procedure. There were times when I had to tell the doctor what should be done just to get the patient closed up."

Baruch Rosen says, "I counted on Dr. Naud a lot for advice." But Rosen insists he performed more than 75 cosmetic surgeries at the clinic in 1990. He says he did many of the procedures on his own, while Joe Naud was back in Michigan.

Sometimes, it went without a hitch. Other times, Mesa says, terrible problems arose:

"It came to the point that he did an abdominoplasty by himself with Dr. Naud not present and he said, `I've taken too much off, Sharon. What am I going to do now?' And I said, `You're going to get her closed up. I'm going to put this table on a 45-degree angle and you're going to suture her up.' And he did and it was the best tummy tuck he ever did. But the fact that a medical assistant had to figure out what to do with a person that was laying on the table with the whole bottom half of their stomach cut out . . . ."

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