The women allege Western Sydney cosmetic surgeon Dr Leslie Blackstock subjected them to bizarre surgeries, waking them up mid-operation to demand they make surgical decisions and even FaceTiming their loved ones to seek their opinions.
“All of these women say they were left humiliated and disfigured by one man,” said Sunday Night reporter Angela Cox.
“I could feel him ripping me, my breast tissue and screaming and my partner heard me screaming from down the hall,” said one former patient.
Drugged but still conscious and propped up in front of a mirror in the middle of their operation, the women claim they were asked to inspect their own implants and give feedback.
Another recalled her husband and neighbour being dialled in on an iPad to ask if her “boobs were big enough”.
Blackstock’s licence was suspended in 2017 after The Daily Telegraph revealed bizarre conduct — including waking patients up in the middle of surgery to ask them questions.
It was the promise of safe, low-cost breast augmentation that led so many women to the no-frills front door of Blackstow’s Penrith practice.
One patient, Nikki Warman, recalled meeting Blackstock for the first time after she’d already been given pre-surgery drugs.
“They called it ‘twilight surgery’, so he said that at any given point, I could answer. I could feel what was happening to me and I screamed,” she said.
She said she felt “everything” during the procedure. “I felt … the opening. I felt the knife. I could feel the skin being pulled and then I could feel him open with his fingers and put the implant in.”
Propped up in front of a mirror mid-surgery, Warman says she was asked to give feedback about the size and shape of the implants.
“I know I was talking … if it was making sense, I have no idea,” she said.
Leading plastic surgeon Dr Rohit Kumar explained to Sunday Night just how unorthodox Blackstock’s methods had been.
“The choice of implant should be made between yourself and the surgeon way before you end up in theatre. You certainly do not wake your patient up to ask them that question (while) your patient is under the influence of mind-altering drugs, that they cannot give you an appropriately informed consent,” he said.
Another patient, Belinda Hooker, says she was horrified at the sight that greeted her when she was propped in front of a mirror mid-procedure.
“He sat me up and I just said, ‘Oh, my god. What have you done? My breast looks deformed.’”
Blackstock then FaceTimed Belinda’s husband Reid to seek a second opinion.
“(He said) ‘Well, do you think it looks OK? We need to know whether we’re going to take it out or what we’re gong to do.’ I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal. This is going on in the middle of an operation. It was clearly deformed, the wrong size, and that was why he was trying to pass that onus onto me,” Reid told Sunday Night.
Nikki Warman claims her surgery left her with a serious infection, a disfigured breast that folded “like a pocket”, and incredibly, a letter from Blackstock threatening to sue her and demanding $50,000 in compensation.
Another patient, mother-of-two Michelle Burgess, went to Dr Blackstock seeking breast implants having had a flat chest all her life. She was horrified with the results.
“I have no recollection of what went on during that surgery at all. I have no recollection of being sat up and asked a choice of size. When I went back to recovery and finally did wake up properly, I had enormous breasts,” she said.
“Absolutely enormous. I don’t know whether he just chose or the nurses chose. I don’t know who chose, but it certainly wasn’t me.”
This was just the start of her problems — after surgery, Warman developed a life-threatening infection and had to have emergency surgery to remove the implants.
Dr Kumar performed that lifesaving surgery.
Dr Blackstock was suspended by the Medical Council of New South Wales but has not yet been deregistered. Sunday Night tracked him down to the Gold Coast hinterland, where he lives in a $3 million hilltop property bought in his wife’s name. He refused to comment when approached repeatedly by Sunday Night’s Angela Cox.
Another of his former patients says that their lives have been “destroyed”.
“Regular people who expected that in Australia, there would be good quality care and you would be treated appropriately by your doctor. And that just didn’t happen. It just didn’t happen.”