Patients 'left disfigured by cosmetic surgeon'

A cosmetic surgeon who was struck off the medical register more than a decade ago and later reinstated appeared for a second time before the General Medical Council yesterday charged with botched treatment of five patients that left them disfigured and in pain.

Dr Fayez Ibrahim Suliman Abu-Mahfouz, 57, who runs the London Cosmetic Laser Centre from 122 Harley Street, is accused of serious professional misconduct. Patients who answered magazine advertisements for his laser treatment were allegedly left with burnt, blistered and raw skin.

One woman, Mrs B, who sought treatment for swollen eyes and lines round her mouth, paid £2,500 and was left with a face described as a "huge, weeping swollen crust". A man who sought removal of a tattoo on his arm was left with blistered skin which was "extremely painful" and described by a dermatologist as having been "overcooked".

The Egypt-born consultant was one of a number of doctors who was accused last year of promising to make Asians and black people look "white". Dr Abu-Mahfouz was alleged to have told a black undercover reporter: "I can make you white like me. I can make you look like the English."

Dr Abu-Mahfouz was struck off the register in 1987 when he was working as a GP's assistant and failed to refer a patient he knew to be in a critical condition to hospital. The GMC accused him of a "lamentable standard of professional care and attention". He was re-instated in 1992.

In the current case, Dr Abu-Mahfouz, who describes himself on his website as "one of the most prominent cosmetic surgeons" and says his clinic offers "the most advanced technology equipment and procedures", is accused of making "inappropriate claims about the efficacy of treatment," and failing to give patients "sufficient pre-operative information to enable them to give properly informed consent".

The case again focuses attention on standards in the cosmetic surgery business, which has long been subject to claims that it is poorly regulated and puts patients at risk. Cosmetic surgeons require no special training beyond their medical qualification to set up in practice and potential earnings are well into six figures.

Mrs B visited Dr Abu- Mahfouz's clinic in January 2000 for a "skin resurfacing" treatment for her face. She paid £1,285 as a deposit and a further £1,220 five days later. After treatment the doctor gave her peroxide wash for her face, telling her to apply it four to five times a day.

"In the days following, Mrs B experienced considerable pain. Her face became a huge, weeping swollen crust, half an eyebrow and the bottom lashes on one side had been burnt off," the GMC's professional conduct committee heard. Photographs of the patient were handed to the committee with the warning that they were "slightly unpleasant".

Mrs B had been given a leaflet warning that the treated area would look red but 18 months later her skin was still in a bad state.

She wrote to Dr Abu-Mahfouz saying that she was "absolutely frustrated and totally distraught" over the state of her face.

But he replied that the treatment was "performed successfully" and if there had been any post-operative difficulty it was her fault.

The cases before the GMC came to light after a BBC undercover reporter, Paul Kenyon, used a hidden camera to record a consultation with Dr Abu-Mahfouz for the BBC1 investigative programme Kenyon Confronts. The surgeon wrongly claimed that hair could permanently be removed from Mr Kenyon's back and that the treatment would be painless.

After the programme was broadcast, other former patients of Dr Abu-Mahfouz came forward and complained to the GMC.

The case continues.

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