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In 2003, one Maria Alaimo, aged 47, had breast surgery – a combination of a breast lift and breast augmentation.

  • A breast lift (mastopexy) is a procedure done after sagging has stretched the skin and created a flattened contour. It removes excess skin and tightens the tissue into a higher and more youthful shape.
  • Breast augmentation is the insertion of breast implants under the breast tissue and perhaps under the chest muscle (pectoral muscle) to make the breasts look larger than they are naturally.

These two procedures are not typically done in combination, as many women go for the much-publicized breast augmentation who actually only need a breast lift, and usually only one or the other procedure is necessary. Alaimo had two children so presumably pregnancy and perhaps breast feeding had caused her breasts to sag and the skin to stretch.

A “Double-Bubble Deformity”

In Alaimo’s case, a “double-bubble deformity” was the result of having a combination procedure. This negative outcome sometimes occurs in a breast implant surgery when there is not enough distance between the breast crease (beneath the breast) and the nipple to accommodate the implant’s extra volume. To address the problem, the surgeon lowers the breast crease, in effect “borrowing” some skin from the diaphragm area. The borrowed skin is incorporated into the breast, forming a new and lower crease line.

The problem arises when the original crease line “remembers” where it was and creates an indentation across the lower part of the breast. This means there are two creases, giving two breast curves, one of the breast containing the nipple and one over the implant which sags below the natural breast.

$3.5 Million Award

The civil suit, in Staten Island Supreme Court, began last week with a six-panel jury. The defendant, a well-respected cosmetic surgeon named Dr. Berman, said in his defense that he had given the plaintiff clear warnings about the risks of her combination procedure. That is always done before any surgery and the prospective patient must sign an Acknowledgment Form agreeing that he or she has been informed of the risks and has chosen to go ahead with the surgery anyway.

The jury deliberated for nine hours but could not reach a unanimous decision. One juror was not convinced that the doctor was at fault. The other five thought that he had botched the surgery and committed medical malpractice. Even though it was not a unanimous decision, Alaimo was awarded $1 million for her past pain and suffering and $2.5 million for future pain and suffering.

It is evidently hard to correct a “double bubble” deformity while retaining the implants, but one has to wonder why she could not have the implants removed, thus removing the second “bubble” on each side. However, news reports of this case do not give very much medical information.

All surgery carries risk and the surgeon is legally required to advise every patient of what they are. If that is not done, or if the surgery is indeed botched, you would probably have a valid legal claim. Please contact our Mobile, Alabama office today if you have been harmed by a medical procedure and would like to schedule a free consultation.

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