Police investigate woman's death after 'medical episode' during tummy tuck

32-year-old dies after procedure at Vanity Cosmetic Surgery

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A woman who underwent a procedure at Vanity Cosmetic Surgery in West Miami died Wednesday night after suffering a "medical episode," Miami-Dade police said.

Maria Christian, 32, who was getting a tummy tuck, was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where she later died.

Her sister, Carolina Flor, said Christian leaves behind two children, ages 12 and 2.

She was amazing," Flor told Local 10 News.

Flor said doctors told her that her sister's heart stopped during the procedure.

"The guy said that her heart had stopped over there, and when they brought her here, they tried to just resuscitate her, but it was without luck," Flor said.

Another woman died during a cosmetic procedure in May at Encore Plastic Surgery in Hialeah. The death was later ruled accidental.

Flor, who still has a lot of questions about her sister's death, realizes that it's too late to save her now, but hopes getting her story out will help others in the future.

"She was like, you know, like, young, healthy, worked out, so, like, to me, I don't understand how her heart could have stopped," Flor said.

Vanity Cosmetic Surgery released a statement Thursday expressing condolences to Christian's family.

"The patient, who had previously undergone two cosmetic procedures, with the most recent one performed in January 2016, was deemed in good health when she underwent the procedure," the statement said. "All standard pre-op procedures were administered. However, unfortunately, she developed cardiac arrest towards the end of the operation." 

Vanity Cosmetic Surgery said all operations "have inherent risks of complications and, in some cases, unpredictable complications can occur."

"The Miami-Dade Police Department investigated our facilities and surgical rooms during their initial investigation, and they found everything to be in accordance with standard protocols," the statement said.

Vanity Cosmetic Surgery also praised its physician who performed the procedure, Dr. Camille D. Chavez, who the company said has "more than 30 years of experience, specializing in microsurgery, trauma surgery, craniofacial surgery, and cosmetic surgery."

Records show that Chavez was previously sued in 2001 by a patient for professional malpractice while she was working at the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery for allegedly failing to identify a cancerous lump in the woman's breast before performing breast augmentation surgery.

The case was later dismissed.

Claims were also filed against the doctor in 1997 for malpositioned implants and the need for revision surgery and in 1998 because the patient was unhappy with the results of liposuction and a breast lift.

Vanity Cosmetic Surgery has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB issued an alert about the company, saying that many unhappy customers said they were promised refunds within six to eighth weeks, but at the end of the period were told that the company's refund policy had changed.

Some customers said they were unable to receive refunds from their credit card companies because most credit card companies require that disputes be filed within 60 days of the charge date.

Miami-Dade police homicide detectives are investigating Christian's death.

About the Authors:

Peter Burke returned for a second stint of duty at Local 10 News in February 2014.

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.