Plastic surgeon ‘Dr. Laguna’ settles suit for $6 million

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Dr. Arian Mowlavi, a plastic surgeon who branded himself “Dr. Laguna” on social media, has reached a $6-million settlement with three dozen former patients, according to court records.

In a series of malpractice lawsuits filed against the Laguna Beach physician, patients alleged that he unnecessarily forced them to be nude for an examination, made inappropriate comments about their bodies, touched them without consent, tried to upsell other procedures moments before they went under the knife and, in some cases, botched the surgeries. Patients said in court documents that they were left with unsightly and unexpected scars and infections following surgery.

Under the settlement agreement, first reported by NBC, the doctor’s insurance company will put up the $6 million. Some details of the agreement were included in a filing in Mowlavi’s bankruptcy case.

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An attorney representing Mowlavi did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday. Mowlavi, who has not admitted to any wrongdoing, could not be reached for comment.

The state medical board in late January filed a formal accusation against Mowlavi, including allegations that he committed gross negligence, created a false medical record, made false representations about his treatment of a patient, failed to maintain accurate medical records and failed to report to the board an adverse event involving a patient.

This is the second action the board has taken against Mowlavi, records show. In August 2021, the board filed an accusation that he committed gross negligence, aided the unlicensed practice of medicine and overstated the number of procedures he’d performed, among other violations. In September 2022, the board suspended Mowlavi’s license for 90 days and placed him on probation for 10 years, documents show.

The board’s January filing centers on Mowlavi’s interactions with two patients in 2020. The first, identified in the document as Patient A, underwent surgery in November of that year for high-definition liposuction of the abdomen, flanks, middle and upper back, armpit and left medial thigh. There was no immediate complication, but about a week later, she returned to the office and complained of a “bad odor and dark discoloration of the abdominal skin” along with pain, the board’s accusation states.

The accusation states that Mowlavi examined the patient’s abdomen over FaceTime. However, a postoperative note in the patient’s chart made it seem as though Mowlavi had examined her in person, according to the document.

During an interview with the board last May, Mowlavi was asked about the encounter. He “stated that he remembered the visit clearly and Patient A was doing well and progressing quicker than most patients do.” He described the patient as “happy” and “excited on the way out,” saying she “high-fived” him twice, the document states.

But two days after Mowlavi examined her over FaceTime, the woman was taken to the emergency room after paramedics found her with a decreased level of consciousness, slurred speech and weakness to her right side. Doctors determined that she was in septic shock. She underwent several surgeries to remove damaged tissue from the abdomen, according to the document.

The second patient, identified as Patient B, lived out of state and sought out Mowlavi to alter her breasts, abdomen, back, thighs and arms. In September 2020, the board document states, the doctor conducted a virtual consultation. But in records provided to the medical board, he reported that he had conducted a physical exam, according to the accusation.

Times staff writer Salvador Hernandez contributed to this report.

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