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Cosmetic Surgery Murders

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If you don’t follow cosmetic surgery, it may escape your attention that an Arizona cosmetic surgeon has just been found guilty on three counts of murder. Last Friday, the Phoenix New Times reported that Dr. Peter Normann was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter (Hampton 1).

The charges stem from the deaths of three of Normann’s liposuction patients—one in 2006 and two in 2007. In each case, incompetence, negligence, or a combination caused the patient to lose his or her life.

In the first case, a man who elected to have liposuction with Normann died on the operating table due to an overdose of anesthetic. Normann botched the emergency intubation procedure and the patient could not be revived.

The second fatality was a female patient whose combination procedure with Normann included fat transfer to the buttocks. She died when the injected fat traveled to her lungs as a pulmonary embolism (Hampton 1).

After those two tragedies, which ultimately resulted in the second-degree murder convictions, Normann’s license was restricted. He then teamed up with Gary Page, a gentleman who is a homeopathic doctor, not an M.D., and the two handled another female liposuction patient. Again, the patient reacted to the anesthesia and again, efforts to revive her via intubation were unsuccessful because the tube was not inserted properly. Page performed the liposuction, hence the manslaughter charge for Normann (Hampton 1).

If you think it’s unusual for a doctor to be charged with murder for performing a medical procedure, you’re right. According to Law Med Consulting’s Law Med Blog, when a physician is found to be negligent, they are usually sued in civil court for malpractice. This points to the serious nature of Normann’s actions.

In finding the physician guilty of all charges, the jury determined that the case had met the criteria of the Arizona law for manslaughter, defined as recklessly causing the death of another person, and second-degree murder, meaning recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person (Law Med 1).

You man not think an unusual, sensational case like this has much to teach women who are proactive in managing their health. Let’s hope you’re right—that EmpowHer members would never choose a doctor like Normann.

But there is one aspect of this case that could come into play for budget-minded people planning a cosmetic procedure. That’s the old notion that “you get what you pay for,” or in this case, maybe, “you don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

In his bid to reel in patients, Dr. Normann cut just about every corner imaginable, including:

• Skipping plastic surgery training and board certification;
actually, Dr. Normann is not a surgeon of any kind, he’s an internist
• Working with untrained medical assistants, including a massage therapist
• Foregoing an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist
• Operating in an unlicensed surgical room
• Having inadequate emergency equipment on hand (Roth 1)

If you’re thinking about a cosmetic procedure, shop around. Find out the average going rate in your area. If you find a provider whose prices are well below that average, thoroughly investigate all the aspects of the practice you can think of. If your doctor has found ways to economize, make sure it’s not at the expense of your safety.


Hampton, Adele. Self-Proclaimed “Plastic Surgeon” Peter Normann Convicted of Murder, Manslaughter. Phoenix New Times Blogs. July 15, 2011. Web. July 16, 2011.

Law Med Consulting. Self-Proclaimed Cosmetic Surgeon On Trial For 3 Patient Homicides. June 24, 2011. Web. July 16, 2011.

Roth, Jeffrey J. Murder Trial Begins for Unlicensed Arizona Plastic Surgeon. Las Vegas Plastic Surgery. June 20, 2011. Web. July 16, 2011. http://www.jjrothmd.com/blog/view/murder-trial-begins-for-unlicensed-arizona-plastic-surgeon

Edited by Shannon Koehle

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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