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Washington State Cosmetic Surgeon Accused of Botching 15-Year-Old's Breast Surgery

The state agency that licenses doctors has accused a Moses Lake cosmetic surgeon of unprofessional conduct for performing breast reduction and liposuction on a 15-year-old girl.

Dr. Thomas Laney was practicing in Seattle in 2005 when he did the surgery, which the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission alleges he lacked the education and training to perform.

Laney is accused in the commission's statement of charges of botching the breast reduction, putting the teen's nipples back in the wrong place — too high and too close to the center.

"Overall, the patient's breasts now have an aesthetically odd and unnatural appearance," the commission said.

The charges also allege Laney shouldn't have agreed to perform liposuction on a 15-year-old.

"Liposuction carries significant risks, including necrotizing soft tissue infection that can lead to significant tissue loss and death," the commission said. "(Laney) should have refused to perform the procedure and, instead, recommended a proper diet and exercise program for weight loss."

The charges do not claim the girl suffered any infection as a result of the procedure.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on the case in 2008 when the girl — whose name was not released — sued Laney in King County for malpractice.

The girl was a high school athlete with overly large breasts that impeded her athletic activities and caused her back and neck pain, the article said.

The lawsuit later settled for an undisclosed amount. A complaint was submitted to the state board last year, but the commission just recently filed its charges.

Charges by the commission are not a criminal prosecution but could result in limitation, suspension or revocation of a medical license.

Laney previously was charged by the board when a patient died after cosmetic surgery.

Steven Fitzer, Laney's Tacoma-based attorney, said the doctor, who also is licensed as a dentist, got permission from the girl's parents before performing the surgery and denies he did anything wrong.

"She had sought out care from a number of plastic surgeons, including Dr. Laney, for the condition he operated on," Fitzer told the Herald. "She went through an elaborate evaluation and consent process. The parents were fully advised of the situation and signed multiple consent forms acknowledging the risks, benefits and alternatives to the procedure."

Fitzer said a prominent East Coast surgeon will testify in support of Laney. "We are going to dispute and are prepared to dispute (this)," Fitzer said.

He said Laney has a medical degree from the University of Nebraska and a dentistry degree from Creighton University, also in Nebraska.

He is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and is a member of the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Fitzer said.

"Dr. Laney is a well-qualified, well-trained M.D.," he said.

Laney has had active medical and dental licenses in Washington since 1987, according to the Department of Health's online public records.

He was fined $1,000 by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission in 2003 and $3,000 by the Dental Quality Assurance Commission in 2004, both stemming from the death in 2000 of a cosmetic surgery patient who stopped breathing under anesthesia.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in 2005 that Laney had been sued 10 times by patients or their families.

He won one case after a trial, one case was dismissed, and the rest settled, the article stated.

None of the lawsuits resulted in any action by the state medical and dental commissions, except in the death.

Fitzer did not represent Laney in any of those suits, but said none of them had to do with the kind of procedure or issue involved in the current complaint. He also pointed out the complaint does not mention any of those previous suits.

Laney moved to Moses Lake with his wife in April 2006. Fitzer said the move was planned before he performed cosmetic surgery on the teen girl.

He currently limits his practice to head, face and jaw surgery, although there are no current limitations on his medical or dental licenses, Fitzer indicated.

"He operates as a doctor — not a dentist — on people who have facial injuries or jaw injuries, people who hit their face on a steering wheel or a windshield or are in farm accidents," Fitzer said. "It is his chosen area of practice. As far as I know, he is doing well and providing excellent service to patients there."

Laney has requested a hearing on the statement of charges, but no date has been set.

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Information from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com