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West Hollywood plastic surgery clinic staffer caught in sting

A staff member at a West Hollywood plastic surgery clinic was caught acting in a doctor's capacity by state regulators this week.

August 12, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
  • Manny Calayan, left, is not licensed to practice medicine in California, according to state medical board records. His West Hollywood clinic was the site of a sting by medical board investigators Tuesday.
Manny Calayan, left, is not licensed to practice medicine in California,… (Calayan Surgicentre Corp.…)

A staffer was caught acting in a doctor's capacity at a West Hollywood plastic surgery clinic during a sting by state regulators this week.

The staffer at Calayan Surgicentre Corp. was diagnosing a medical condition and performing laser treatments Tuesday when she was confronted by an investigator from the Medical Board of California's Operation Safe Medicine who had posed as a patient, according to a board statement released Thursday. Investigators served a search warrant on the clinic Tuesday and referred the business to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to consider charges of practicing medicine without a license.

Medical Board officials have not identified the staff member involved. It was not clear whether she had been charged Thursday, according to a district attorney's office spokeswoman.

Investigators began conducting surveillance at the clinic, at Sunset Medical Tower, 9201 Sunset Blvd., after receiving complaints that unlicensed staff had injured patients during laser treatments, according to the statement.

"The mission of the Medical Board is public protection, and this action reflects the board's ongoing commitment to that mission," said Linda Whitney, the board's executive director.

On Thursday, staff members at the clinic said that it was closed and that they were unaware of the state investigation. They said clinic owners Manny and Pie Calayan were in the Philippines and unavailable for comment. The Calayans did not return email or calls to their offices in Makati City and Quezon City on Thursday.

The Calayans, who identify themselves as doctors on their website and Facebook pages and market themselves to medical tourists, are not licensed to practice medicine in California, according to medical board records and Christine Valine, a board spokeswoman.

Valine advised prospective plastic surgery patients to do their homework before undergoing even minor procedures.

"Before they go to a doctor or physician, they should check them on our web site and make sure" they are licensed, she said.

On their website, the Calayans have posted Filipino medical school diplomas and certificates of membership in U.S. medical associations that admit doctors licensed overseas. Also posted are articles implying that the Calayans are U.S.-trained.

An article on the clinic's web site said Manny Calayan was trained in Los Angeles and "specializes in cosmetic surgery and does nose lift, eye bags removal, dermal fillers for laugh lines, cheeks or chin augmentation, deep wrinkle treatment, deep-setting of the upper eyelids, face lifts, breast enlargement and liposuction." Pie Calayan, according to the article, was also trained in Los Angeles and "specializes in skin, hair and nails treatments including slimming (lasers) and skin whitening."

Operation Safe Medicine has received 351 complaints about unlicensed medical activity in two years, referring 45 of them for criminal prosecution, according to a medical board spokeswoman.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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