After scores of malpractice lawsuits over the course of three decades, a Staten Island plastic surgeon finally had his medical license suspended this month and was deemed "an imminent danger to the health of the people of the state." Legal documents show that Dr. Robert Cattani, whom the Post dubs "the Richmond County ripper," leaves behind a horrifying trail of botched medical procedures. And though he may be prevented from perforating a patient's bowels during a liposuction like he did back in 2007, many of his former patients wonder why it took so long for his practice to be shut down.
Marilyn Franklin tells the Staten Island Advance she paid Cattani thousands of dollars for a neck lift in 2009 as a gift to herself for her 60th birthday. What she got was a grotesque scar that curls around from the back of her neck to the front of her ear. (The Post published an appalling photo of Cattani's handiwork.) "I haven't had a good night's sleep in three years; every night I wake up with shooting pain," says Franklin. "I went in to have my turkey neck done and I came back the bride of Frankenstein."
And when Franklin showed the scar to a nurse at another doctor's office, she says the nurse recognized the mark of Cattani immediately. "She guessed it on the spot it was him," says Franklin. "She said, 'I can't tell you how many patients we are aware of who were scarred and maimed.' How did that doctor still have a license?" Another former patient went to Cattani in 2004 to do something about the puffiness around her eyes, and ended up blind in one eye. Her attorney won a court case on the patient's behalf in 2009. And the list allegedly goes on and on, with botched boob jobs and even kidney failure resulting from complications.
Asked why Cattani was able to practice for so long, a state official told the Advance, "All complaints provided to the State Office of Professional Medical Conduct go through a stringent review process and, if appropriate, a formal hearing process as well. The outcomes of cases are impacted by a variety of factors, including the strength of the evidence gathered." Cattani's lawyer says his client is "a respected and experienced cosmetic surgeon [who] looks forward to the opportunity to defend himself, as well as to his ultimate vindication." Cattani himself could not be reached for comment, but a colleague sends this message on his behalf.