Call him Ismael, and don’t be surprised if he turns up in Carl Hiaasen‘s next ripped-from-the headlines novel.
Ismael Labrador is a very real purveyor of strip mall surgery and beneficiary of Florida’s laughably lax enforcement of laws aimed at protecting the public against charlatans peddling plastic surgery on the cheap.
As owners of South Florida plastic surgery “clinics,” Labrador and his ex-wife Aimee De la Rosa cater to people with little money and less self-esteem. The Miami Herald’s Daniel Chang brings us the details, which would be shocking if we hadn’t heard this story so many times before.
Labrador has been on the state’s bad guy radar since 2007, when Miami-Dade police investigators discovered he employed unlicensed doctors to work on real people with unrealistic dreams of looking more Kardashian-like. He beat the rap by accepting a $30,000 fine and a wrist slap from the regulators, along with some community service, the nature of which Chang’s story mercifully spares us.
In the decade since, Labrador and his former missus retrieved a boatload of complaints from injured patients, some of whom ended up in area hospitals with “debilitating injuries and infection.” Three deaths have been linked to their bargain basement beauty treatments.
Some customers trusted their instincts and decided not to go through with surgery. It took Attorney General Pam Bondi to get their deposits back, and, in exchange, her office agreed to drop an investigation into the facilities. We’ll see how that works out, because Florida has not seen the last of Labrador.
Spokeswoman Giannina Sopo says her clients will carry on following a “rebranding” as Eres Plastic Surgery. In a statement to the Herald that might have been crafted by a drunk alumnus of The Onion, she wrote:
“Like so many of our patients, we too are opening a new chapter in our lives with our rebranding effort. We have worked from the inside out to improve all aspects of patient care and we are in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations that regulate cosmetic surgery centers and businesses.”
The rebranding includes a promise that doctors and nurses will monitor patients closely before and after their surgeries.
Well, it’s never too late for surgeons and surgical nurses to do stuff that mothers knew to do since before Hippocrates was born. But don’t bet the Brazilian butt lift that Eres will.