"I've lost faith and the ability to trust this industry."
Toronto-based plastic surgeon Dr Mahmood Kara has been accused of malpractice and fleeing with patients’ money.
Also known as Mahmud Kara, he owns Dr Kara Plastic Surgery and previously operated four private clinics and two satellite locations across the Greater Toronto Area.
Dr Kara first came to light in October 2021, when several patients said he took thousands of dollars of their money in deposits for procedures he didn’t end up doing.
A $6 million class-action lawsuit against Dr Kara was filed on behalf of patients who claimed they suffered disfigurement, scarring or injury after receiving surgery from him.
Lawyer Kris Bonn, who filed the claim on behalf of the patients, said:
“He really abused their trust and just fell off the face of the earth, as far as we can understand, and didn’t follow up with proper aftercare.”
The lawsuit alleged that breast implant manufacturers stopped supplying Dr Kara with products, so he used old ones he had in stock.
A statement read: “As a result, Dr Kara put implants in patients that were not the size that the patients had agreed to and what the patients had paid for.”
One of those was Amanda O’Brien, whose ordeal began in the summer of 2019.
She had gone to Dr Kara for a breast lift.
According to the claim, after Ms O’Brien was medicated and under sedation, Dr Kara told her there would be a change of plans – he’d have to remove her existing implants and she’d need to come back for the breast lift surgery after she healed.
She agreed under duress but was not told she’d have to buy new implants for $10,000.
Ms O’Brien eventually agreed to pay for the new implants, also under duress but asked for a refund for the $17,000 breast lift. She also told the clinic if it did not agree, she would consider legal action.
In January 2020, Ms O’Brien had the breast lift surgery, however, it led to a “severe infection” in her left breast.
Over a seven-month period, Dr Kara performed three additional surgeries in a bid to address the infection and subsequent deformity to her breast, with no success.
Ms O’Brien said: “I suffered probably from some depression. It definitely took a toll.”
She later contacted the clinic, requesting a follow-up appointment, but never heard back.
She does not know if another procedure would help fix the damage allegedly caused by Dr Kara.
Ms O’Brien said: “I’ve lost faith and the ability to trust this industry.”
On the result of the botched surgeries, she said:
“The skin is very loose. One [breast] is a totally different size than the other.
“I’m not comfortable, I’m not confident. I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror.”
She now struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder while in medical settings.
“This wasn’t the norm for me my entire life. I’m 42 years old.”
Mr Bonn says that while there are risks of infection and scarring after surgery, his client’s case is abnormal.
He told CBC: “I think the level that we’ve seen here in the number of women affected certainly suggests something was not being done properly.”
Ms O’Brien added:
“That entire experience had a significant impact on my life. I was very sick and emotionally drained.”
The plastic surgeon faces another lawsuit involving 19 plaintiffs that claim he breached their contracts by taking their deposit and not performing the procedure.
The claim was filed in October 2021 and is for the amounts paid by each patient, worth more than $200,000, along with $25,000 each in punitive damages.
Deborah Laurie paid a deposit of just over $9,600 for a breast lift.
She had waited 15 years to get the procedure done.
But after taking the money, Dr Kara allegedly ran away with it.
A few months after the claim was filed, she got her deposit back, but says her dream of having the surgery is ruined.
Dr Kara has since repaid some of the patients but it is unclear how many.
None of the allegations against Kara have been tested in court and the suit has yet to be certified as a class action.
His lawyer Adam Patenaude said: “While Dr. Kara has not yet filed a statement of defence, he denies all of the allegations of negligence, breach of duty and misconduct in the statement of claim and will resist them.”
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has temporarily suspended his medical licence while the allegations are investigated.
Kara’s clinic website says his practice is temporarily closed, but will be reopening soon. It also includes a note on how patients can request their medical records.