Deadly Lap-Band surgery

Two Southern California clinics close amid malpractice accusations

Allergan Inc., the maker of the familiar Lap-Band weight-loss device, has ceased selling the device to surgery centers associated with the massive 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign.

Since 2009, at least five Southern California patients have died after undergoing Lap-Band surgeries affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN, which has been marketed with ads on billboards, radio, television and the Internet, according to The Los Angeles Times. All of the patients were treated at two surgery centers—the New Life Surgery Center in Beverly Hills and the Valley Surgical Center in West Hills, both of which have ceased performing the procedures pending a “top-to-bottom medical and operational review.”

The centers are owned by brothers Michael and Julian Omidi, who now face a string of government investigations and civil lawsuits including a whistleblower suit brought by two former employees who claimed the brothers ran unsanitary facilities and billed patients for medically unnecessary procedures.

The Lap-Band is a ring surgically placed around the stomach to discourage patients from overeating.