A sister of the office manager for a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon testified Monday that her older sibling’s personality and her choice of apparel both changed dramatically after her attempt to have cellulite removed went awry due to the allegedly negligent design of the machine used in the procedure.
Nelly Gutierrez said her sister, Adriana Diaz, once wore heels and dressed at work in a way that emphasized her trim figure brought about by constant workouts with a trainer. But after the procedure left Diaz with scarring, numbness, skin discoloration and other problems, she was forced to rely on Spanx compression undergarments and shoewear with flats to deal with her pain, according to Gutierrez.
Gutierrez said her sister wore medical scrubs to work in place of the “cute” clothing she once sported. She said she had to encourage her sister to wear makeup like she once did and to feel good about herself.
Diaz, 38, also developed a painful seroma, a pocket of clear fluid that sometimes develops in the body after surgery, according to her lawsuit, in which she is a co-plaintiff with her boss, Dr. Stuart Linder. Their case against Cynosure Inc. is being tried before a Los Angeles Superior Court jury.
Linder testified previously that he followed the steps given him by Cynosure’s representatives regarding the use of the laser machine when he performed the procedure on Diaz in January 2013. He said the company representatives never told him that he should not have used the device on an area where he completed lyposuction on his employee in 2011.
But attorney Karin Curtis, on behalf of Cynosure and the salesman, said the device is safe and that Linder misused it.
In her testimony, the 31-year-old Gutierrez said she worked as a front desk receptionist for Linder from 2009-18 and that her sister was her direct supervisor. Gutierrez said that in her role, she came into contact with sales representatives who wanted to sell medical devices to Linder. She said that one of those who made such pitches was Kristopher Huston of Cynosure, who she said boasted through numerous visits and phone calls that the company’s device was the best on the market.
“He told Dr. Linder he had sold the laser machine to all the other plastic surgeons in the area and that he needed to have one to be competitive,” Gutierrez said. “He said the machine was safe and that the other doctors were doing three to five procedures weekly at $6,000 to $8,000 per procedure.”
Asked by plaintiff’s attorney Thomas Brown what she thought of Huston’s representations, Gutierrez replied, “He was not trustworthy.”
Gutierrez said Huston promised that Diaz could begin working out again two weeks after the cellulite removal. But Gutierrez said she talked to her sister after the procedure and that she found her crying and in pain. She said she stayed with Diaz, who was unable to immediately go back to work, at her sister’s home and cared for her by supplying ice packs to her legs and other comforting measures.
Gutierrez said Diaz still has pain six years later, including constant throbbing in her legs — with one more painful than the other. She said that occasional migraines Diaz suffered before the procedure became much more constant afterward.
Asked by Brown about the swelling on her sister’s legs, Gutierrez replied, “They’re not better.”
Linder, who has made television appearances on such programs as “The Doctors,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The View,” alleges Cynosure misrepresented the safety of the allegedly defective laser device and falsely told him that it was approved by the FDA.
Linder said he bought the laser device in October 2012 after persistent prodding by Huston and that the machine cost about $200,000.
About 200 plastic surgeons work in the same area of Beverly Hills as Linder, the doctor testified previously.