Dr. Alberto Sant Antonio, founder of the Weston cosmetic surgery clinic where two patients recently died after fat-removal procedures, is not a board-certified plastic surgeon, according to Florida Department of Health records.
Sant Antonio trained as a general surgeon in Baltimore and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons. But that doesn't mean he has the specific training that board-certified plastic surgeons receive. On its website, the Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons has a cautionary statement about non-board-certified doctors:
"All members of the Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons are certified by the American
Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). To become board-certified by ABPS requires specific, extensive training and experience and the ability to pass a rigorous examination to verify competence. If a surgeon is not board certified, he or she may be capable nonetheless, but there is no way to verify that fact."
In June, Maria Shortall, 38, stopped breathing during a "body sculpting" procedure at Sant Antonio's office, the Alyne Medical Rejuvenation Institute in Weston. Shortall's death is under investigation by the Broward Sheriff's Office, and it's unclear who performed her surgery.
In February 2010, another patient, Kellee Lee-Howard, died after liposuction performed by Sant Antonio at Alyne. An autopsy report from the Miami-Dade medical examiner says she died of "poly-drug toxicity complicating elective cosmetic surgery." Lee-Howard's family has a filed a lawsuit alleging Sant Antonio failed to properly administer her anesthesia.
Lee, an office manager at Alyne, says Sant Antonio is not a plastic surgeon and does not perform liposuction but rather a procedure called "liposculpture."
"There's a huge, huge difference," says Lee, who would not give her last name. She said she would email further explanation about "liposculpture" but did not.
Several websites indicate that Sant Antonio developed a technique called SA BodySculpture, which is described as less invasive than traditional liposuction and can be done under local anesthesia. It involves a suction process to remove fat from a patient's body.