Breast Explant Negligence

Thirteen months after I underwent a terrifying experience involving breast explant surgery, I have decided to speak out after being silenced and ignored in my attempts to resolve an issue of medical negligence while under the care of Dr. Marcus Peterson in St. George, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Dr. Peterson is a surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

It is my sincere desire to reach as many women as possible who could possibly be placing themselves in the hands of this extremely negligent surgeon. If you are considering any breast surgery, such as implants or a mastectomy, I invite you to take the time to read this detailed account of my very negative experience as Dr. Peterson’s patient. 

On December 16, 2019, I had a consultation with Dr. Peterson about a breast explant procedure (i.e., the removal of previously inserted implants). Four years prior to that, he had surgically inserted breast implants very high under my chest muscles, as part of a breast lift and reduction procedure. In this 2019 consultation, he shared his opinion that I did not need an encapsulation removal as part of my explant procedure because my scar tissue was very thin. He said it would be a simple one-hour in-office procedure, using a local anesthetic that would require little to no down time. I scheduled my appointment to have him perform the explants in his office and paid a $500 non-refundable deposit that was to be applied to the cost of the procedure, for which he charged $950.

On February 10, 2020, I paid the remaining balance of $450.00. 

February 13, 2020, a Thursday, was the day scheduled for Dr. Peterson’s breast explant. It was set to start at 11:30 am. Dr. Petersen entered the room with his assistant Amberly at about 12:30 pm to begin the procedure. 

He administered the local anesthetic, didn’t offer a sedative, and began the procedure while I was awake. He inserted a needle into each breast to rupture and drain the saline from each implant, so that the implant bags could be removed through an incision on the underside of each breast. Once the implants were ruptured and drained, he made the first incision under my left breast. 

As Dr. Peterson began the process of removing my left breast implant, it became clear that he was having difficulty getting into the breast pocket to grab the drained saline bag. I heard him say that scar tissue was causing the difficulty, in addition to the positioning of the implant high under the chest muscles. While he continued his attempts to remove the implant bag from inside my left breast, I experienced a shooting nerve-type pain that put my body into shock. I began sobbing and shaking from fear and the shock from the pain, while he continued his attempts inside my breast. Neither Dr. Peterson nor his assistant seemed interested in calming my obvious distress. They did not ask me if I was having any pain, nor did they offer anything while he was dealing with the complications he was encountering. I was not asked if I wanted them to stop or offered any other options at this point. Dr. Peterson continued to poke and dig into my open left breast while I shook and sobbed, and he finally got the left implant bag removed through the incision after more than 45 minutes of struggling.

Dr. Peterson then turned his attention to my right breast.  My upper ribs and skin on that side felt as if they were tearing and on fire once he made his incision and entered the breast. It was clear that the numbing effect of the local anesthetic had worn off. He said he would give me a second anesthetic injection. He then left the room saying he would return in 15 minutes. 

While he was away, his office staff entered the room to check on me. I lay there on the table with the incisions open, extremely cold, still shaking, emotional, and in a state of shock. They offered me a blanket and water. 

I told them my partner was in the waiting room of the office, and asked them to please have someone go out and update him. I was sure he was becoming concerned because it had been over two hours since my planned one-hour procedure. 

When they returned, they brought my partner with them, saying he was welcome to sit in the room for the remainder of the procedure. I needed to use the restroom, so they had me hold a towel against the open incisions under my breasts, covered me with a gown, and assisted me to and from the restroom. A while later Dr. Peterson returned, re-prepped me, and began for the second time to attempt to remove the implant bag in my right breast. 

For what seemed to be about 30-45 minutes, he proceeded to dig, press, poke and pull, trying to get into the breast pocket and reach the implant without success. He claimed he didn’t’t have long enough tools in the office to get the empty implant bag out of my breast. He said he needed to stitch me up and have me come back in a few weeks so he could finish the procedure when bleeding and swelling were no longer an issue. He seemed rushed that he was behind on his schedule and he had other patients waiting. I shared my concerns about the empty silicone bag that he was leaving ruptured in my body. He expressed it would not cause problems since it had held only saline. He also told me I would have some bruising. He stitched me up and left the room without any post-operative instruction, except that I should come back in a few weeks to see what he could do next. 

Dr. Peterson’s assistant, Amberly, escorted me to the front desk to schedule an appointment for two weeks out, as a follow-up to decide the next steps. I was given no at-home care instructions or offered any Tylenol, ibuprofen or pain relief for my recovery.

That same evening, February 13, I called Dr. Peterson’s office about 6:30 pm with concerns of excruciating pain, extreme swelling and pressure in my right breast, and rib pain. Dr. Peterson called me back, at which time I expressed my concerns to him. He said I should take Tylenol for the pain and that he would touch base with me after the weekend. He said he would most likely need to drain it the following week, but he was in his Las Vegas office on Monday, so it would have to be on Tuesday in St. George.

On February 17th, a Monday, Dr. Peterson‘s assistant Amberly called me  to ask if I would text her photos of my swollen breast so she could send them to Dr. Peterson for him to assess the situation and decide if I needed my breast drained. Since Dr. Peterson was in his Las Vegas office that day, she scheduled me to come in the next day, Tuesday, February 18 at 4 pm, to have it drained if necessary. 

My partner and I went St. George for my Tuesday appointment at 4 pm. We sat in the procedure room until 5:30 pm when Dr. Peterson arrived to drain my breast. He was accompanied by his office billing manager, who would be assisting him. Dr. Peterson placed a drain needle into my previous incision to drain the blood and fluid that had accumulated in the breast pocket.  During the draining procedure, neither Dr. Peterson nor his office billing manager were wearing gloves. At one point, there was a blood clot on the tip of the needle, preventing it from draining into the dish, so they removed it. Dr. Peterson used his bare fingers to try and maneuver the clot off of the needle so fluids could be released into the draining dish his assistant was holding. He then re-inserted the needle to draw more fluid from the breast.

During our conversation while he drained the breast, he said that, at a later date in the office, once the swelling had decreased, he would re-open the incision and remove the implant bag. That way, he would be sure to have the proper tools on hand. I expressed my concerns to him that the procedure would be too painful and traumatic, and I did not want to be awake for the procedure this next time. I asked for my options to be put under general sedation for the next procedure. He explained them to me and expressed that, because I would be under an

IV sedation, he could get me in that Friday, February 21, at the surgical center to irrigate the pocket and remove the silicon bag in the right breast. 

His office assistant gave me the additional cost breakdown for the procedure to be done in the surgical center, and scheduled me for February 21. 

On the day before the scheduled surgery, February 20, the St. George Surgical Center contacted me to review pre-op instructions and to collect payment of $675.

On February 21, I went in for my 2 pm appointment at the Saint George Surgical Center. My procedure started at 4 pm. I was put under IV sedation and the implant was removed successfully. Discharge instructions were given to me by the surgical center’s staff, along with two tablets of anti-nausea medication. There were no pain medications, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, prescribed for pain management, for the second time.

The next evening, February 22, I texted Dr. Peterson about 6 pm because I had been running a fever of 103-104, and was achy, in a lot of pain, having a hard time breathing, coughing and experiencing extreme rib pain. He responded that it sounded like the flu and asked about the breast. I updated him that it had been draining a lot of blood and fluid from the incision site. He told me to place pads to absorb draining, take some ibuprofen and Tylenol, and keep him posted.

The following morning, February 23, at about 9:45 am, I was having more drainage from the incision, unmanageable pain, shortness of breath and still running a fever. Dr. Peterson called my pharmacy and prescribed an antibiotic, which I began taking. Dr. Peterson asked me to follow-up with him on Thursday, February 27.

On Monday, February 24, the incision on my right breast had completely opened, and I was having to pack it internally and do at- home wound care on it.

Two days later, on Wednesday, February 26, I noticed a large hard mass had formed under my skin on the high part of my right breast/chest area, and it seemed to be getting larger. 

On February 27, I went in for my follow-up with Dr. Peterson, concerned. He examined both the hard mass and my incision that had opened. I expressed concern about the mass. He said he was not sure what it was and to come back in two weeks to have him look at it. He advised me to continue keeping the area clean with fresh gauze, packing it daily. At no point did he say it was infected, regardless of it being an open wound and having fowl yellow discharge. However, he said I should continue taking the antibiotics he prescribed.

I made a follow up appointment for two weeks later, as he had asked. I cancelled it later because of Dr. Peterson’s constant negligence, and his lack of concern or confidence about my case he had displayed during each appointment. He never called to follow-up or ask how I was doing. 

In summary, my experience with Dr. Peterson was that there was always very little communication during the procedures or options that served the best interest of me as a patient, particularly with the complications that surfaced. Dr. Peterson was rushed, unprepared with his surgical tools, not experienced with this procedure, showed agitation, displayed a lack of comforting me or concern about what was best for me as a patient when complications surfaced.

I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Darren Gatherum for a breast exam and a second opinion, because of the large mass that appeared after my procedure. Also, I wanted an overall check-up to be sure I still didn’t have an infection. By that time, my wound was healing and the mass had disappeared. It was assumed to have been caused by the irrigation fluid used in the second surgery. 

Months after my wound finally closed, the range of motion in my right arm was restricted because of nerve pain and damage to my upper ribs. I also continued to experience random shooting nerve pain during any stretching or when weight was bared on it. 

In May 2020, I made an appointment with another surgeon, who suggested a treatment plan that gave me some relief. 

Over the course of my recovering from this terrible episode, I received multiple second opinions, physical therapy, massages, as well as holistic healing modalities that are helping me move forward in my healing and recovery. I am scheduled with a skilled, surgeon to have the encapsulations removed in Septemeber of 2021. As I am still have Breast Implant Illness symptoms.

My legal representative put Dr. Marcus Peterson on notice about his negligence in treating me, requesting a full refund of all amounts paid to him and reimbursement of the amounts I had paid to others for my aftercare not including my next surgery to come. 

Marcus Peterson ignored this letter and failed to respond by request date. 

Moving forward with a medical malpractice case in the state of Utah requires proving damages of a minimum of $50,000. Thus, my options have been exhausted.  

After speaking with 3 different personal injury and malpractice attorney’s this best explains why I do not have a case:

“Proving the cause of the infection is very challenging, so much so that I rarely take a case involving infections unless that damages are catastrophic (death, loss of a limb or some other major debilitating consequence).  A plaintiff that wants to pursue a medical malpractice act must prove that negligence by the physician caused harm.  Even then, attorneys who do medical malpractice work turn down cases where the harm is small and the cause of that harm is very difficult to prove.  Put in other words, I can take a small damages case where the liability is clear cut and the negligence obvious and indefensible.  As the challenges of the liability argument rise the necessity of larger damages increases dramatically.

That is where your case sits.  You have a very difficult case for proving that the infection was caused by malpractice.  Couple that challenge with low damages (real but low in terms of dollars) and the defense that some of your damage is from the implants themselves and your case is one that is not worth pursuing, both for you and for me.  Of course, you had a very poor experience, an uncaring doctor and just a rough and bumpy if not incompetent road from day one.  Unfortunately, sub-optimal care, a grumpy uncaring physician, an always late physician does not alone make for a great medical malpractice case.  For these reasons and others I respectfully decline the opportunity to pursue your case.  Thank you however for your time and willingness to consider our firm for your needs.

Be advised that there is a 2 year statute of limitations applicable to your claim.  In order to preserve your claim you must start the process thereby tolling the statute of limitations, by issuing a notice of intent that complies with the Utah Healthcare Malpractice Act.”

I have posted reviews on Google, which have magically disappeared. I have filed with the board. I have received multiple women in my inbox after sharing my story who have also experienced horrible outcomes from this “doctor” and have been brushed aside the way I have been.

In closing, I would like invite any women reading this to exercise their best judgement and to trust their intuition when they place their care in the hands of another. If it seems too good to be true, often it is. In choosing doctors, we tend to place trust in them because we know they have more degrees and certifications, more training, and are more highly paid than we are. But all these do not make them more worthy of you.

Finding peace and healing from this trauma and injustice, I feel it is so important that the truth be seen, heard and shared, even though in my case I was ignored. Under no circumstances should we as women ever feel silenced, unworthy of speaking, unworthy of receiving justice, having fear of saying NO or feeling unsafe when we are placing our trust in another human being.

Graphic photos, please advise:

3/30/22 Update: no luck with a malpractice case. I didn’t loose an arm and signed the paper agreeing he work on me. There was not enough money to “prove” what happened was wrong. I did go to Dr. Self in Draper Utah, for a revision and to remove the capsules 9/21. He was an earth angel and restored hope for doctors. He took amazing care of me and I’m doing well. As for Peterson, my google reviews have been removed over and over from multiple email addresses I’ve submitted from. So if you “google” him he looks like a stand up guy. (Thats what money can do, you can control what people share) Yes, he was reported to DOPL in UT. They investigated him based off the fact he didn’t have the proper tools when he did the removal and had to close me up. That being said nothing was done. This was the case workers reply (8 months after the investigation was open)

“Hello Ms. Curtis,

This email is to inform you that the investigation into the allegations involving Dr. Marcus Peterson is complete.

After reviewing the facts of the case the Division determined circumstances of the complaint were not aggravated to the extent that formal action was required; however, the complaint was handled informally but appropriately, which is not public information.   

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me

Thank you

Vince Garcia – Senior InvestigatorState of Utah, Dept. of CommerceDiv. of Occupational & Professional Licensing1067 East Tabernacle Ste. 9St. George, Utah 84770435-986-0833″

Needless to say, this group, and my own page are the only way my truth has been heard/seen. I hope women see this the way they have. I know many who messaged me, thanking me, because they were able to pivot away from him. That’s my intention, keeping others safe.