I-Team: Plastic surgeon reprimanded, banned from performing Brazilian butt lifts, other procedures


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas doctor was formally reprimanded after the I-Team started asking questions about him. Back in April, the I-Team first reported on how two women died after going to Dr. Stephen Gordon for Brazilian butt lifts.

DISCLAIMER: The images in this story are very graphic.

The Brazilian butt lift procedure is when the doctor removes fat from one area of the body and places it in the buttocks to give it a fuller and rounder look.

Adriana Mendez-Rodriguez died in Jan. 2014 after she went to Dr. Stephen Gordon for a Brazilian butt lift. Five years later, after the I-Team started digging into Dr. Gordon’s history, including the 38-year-old woman’s death, the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners opened an investigation. In June the plastic surgeon was reprimanded.

Adriana Mendez-Rodriguez died in Jan. 2014 after she went to Dr. Stephen Gordon for a Brazilian butt lift.

“As I’m sure the board members are aware, this poses a substantial and significant restriction on Dr. Gordon’s ability to practice medicine as a plastic surgeon,” said the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners .

Gordon admitted to medical malpractice and will have to pay a fine of $2,500 and also the cost of the investigation at more than $5,100.

He is banned from performing specific cosmetic procedures, including Brazilian butt lifts and liposuction.

“If you ask me for all the damage that he has done, and destroying families, yeah, he should be behind bars,” said Alejandra Lawler, Adriana Mendez-Rodriguez’s twin sister

Lawler’s family settled a lawsuit against Gordon which she is not permitted to speak about. But records show the amount at nearly $700,000. The medical board was aware of that settlement even before opening an investigation.

In 2018, Paige Hazelton died after she too went to Dr. Gordon for a Brazilian butt lift.

“I think if the medical board would have done something 5 years ago, 4 years ago, this woman would be alive,” Lawler said.

The I-Team sat down with Hazelton’s aunt and sister on the one year anniversary of her death.

Vanessa Murphy, Reporter: “Paige was not aware that another woman had died?”
Deborah Mann, aunt of Page Hazelton: “Absolutely not.”
Vanessa Murphy, Reporter: “Do you think that information like that (previous death) should be more readily available to patients?”
Deborah Mann, aunt of Page Hazelton: “Yes!”

After 8 News NOW’s interviews with both families aired in April, a third woman contacted the I-Team. She initially did an on-camera interview with us, but hours before the story aired, she asked not to be identified.

“I cried, and I’m like, I realized that; I realized that I’m so lucky and I’m so blessed that I’m alive,” she said.

She says she went to Dr. Gordon for a Brazilian butt lift in 2009.

“Like I feel like something is wrong; like I feel like I’m gonna die,” the patient said. “And I was like bleeding so bad. And then umm, like I looked terrible, like I smell death on me.”

The patient provided photos that showing swelling, and hospital records she provided document that she had to have at least a 2-week stay in the hospital due to MRSA and sepsis infections.

Vanessa Murphy, Reporter: “What do you think should happen with Dr. Gordon?”
Patient: “He should not be practicing a plastic surgeon anymore. I have scarring everywhere because of him.”

The patient told the I-Team she signed a document with Dr. Gordon absolving him of responsibility, and he reimbursed her for the cost of the surgery. The I-Team asked her for that document, but she says she no longer has a copy.

The I-Team reached out to Gordon’s attorney John Cotton to verify the information or to find out if he had a comment about the settlement with the medical board, but he said, “sorry, but it is not our policy to comment on pending litigation or 10-year-old claims.”

The woman says she never complained to the medical board because she didn’t know she could.

Vanessa Murphy, Reporter: “Looking back, would you have gotten the surgery?”
Patient: “No. No.”

Dr. Gordon’s attorney declined the I-Team’s request for an interview with the physician. The I-Team also asked whether Dr. Gordon is still seeing patients, but they did not receive an answer.

The I-Team discovered Dr. Gordon was renting space in a medical office in the southwest part of the valley last May, and in June, the Brazilian butt lift, liposuction, and tummy tuck — the procedures he’s prohibited from doing — were still being advertised on his website.

Last year, a task force of medical societies issued a warning about Brazilian butt lifts. It turns out the procedure is the most dangerous kind of cosmetic surgery with an estimated death rate of at least one in 3,000.

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