A Bonita, California plastic surgeon is already facing murder charges for his alleged inaction after a patient’s heart stopped during a breast augmentation procedure in 2018, leaving her brain dead. Now another former patient has come forward and alleged that Dr. Carlos Orlando Chacon botched her butt lift procedure.
Natassia Louis told NBC San Diego that she was “horrified” upon reading about the case of 36-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother of two Megan Espinoza, who died weeks after suffering a cardiac arrest during a procedure at Dr. Chacon’s Divino Plastic Surgery practice. Louis said that something needs to change because she had no idea about that case when she walked into Dr. Chacon’s practice and was charmed into undergoing a butt lift.
“He won me over,” Louis reportedly said. “He recommended a full mommy makeover. He recommended a breast lift. He would take in my stomach, take the fat and put it on my butt.”
She said that she “bought” what Chacon “sold” — and suffered serious physical consequences as a result.
Louis, a nurse by trade, said that she fell out of a wheelchair after undergoing anesthesia. She said she knew something was wrong with her stomach, even as she was allegedly told the opposite.
“Came back in a couple of days and they cut more of the skin and they repeated the cutting of the skin for a few weeks,” she said, according to the NBC 7 interview. “I wanted to wear jeans and a t-shirt and feel comfortable. That’s all I wanted. That was my goal. Can’t do that.”
Only when she needed surgery to repair the grapefruit-sized hole in her stomach did Louis discover via Google search the serious allegations against Chacon in the Espinoza case.
“I was horrified,” Louis said, claiming that a person who worked at Chacon’s office tipped her off to the allegations.
As Law&Crime previously reported at length on the murder case, Dr. Chacon is accused of leaving the operating room to see other patients and leaving Espinoza in the care of staffers — some of whom had no medical background — while calling two doctors he knew, rather than immediately calling 911. After Espinoza went into cardiac arrest mid-surgery, at around 2:20 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2018, the plastic surgeon allegedly lied to Espinoza’s husband Moises “Moe” Espinoza about what was taking place and did not call 911 until three hours after Espinoza’s heart stopped.
The damage done was catastrophic, and Espinoza did not survive.
“A chest tube was inserted and over the next five days Espinoza’s pulmonary function improved,” the warrant said. “However, her neurological function remained critical. On 12/24/18, Espinoza was transferred to UCSD Medical Center’s Neurological Intensive Care Unit, where her condition continued to deteriorate. Physicians notified Espinoza’s husband and mother that she was not expected to regain neurological function. The family chose to place Espinoza on palliative/compassionate care. Espinoza never regained consciousness, or the ability to breath[e] on her own.”
Espinoza died on Jan. 28, 2019, at 10:26 p.m., the warrant said. An autopsy determined that she passed away from “ischemic encephalopathy […] caused by a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain.”
Like Espinoza’s husband, Natassia Louis said she was outraged that Chacon was able to perform surgeries on unaware patients despite the criminal charges and state allegations of gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, failure to maintain adequate and accurate records, incompetence, aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine, unprofessional conduct in false advertising, and unprofessional conduct in dishonest/corrupt acts.
Both the plastic surgeon and nurse Heather Lang pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge in late 2021, but Chacon reportedly wasn’t required by state law to notify patients of the criminal case.
Currently, his license to practice is restricted; he must notify potential patients of the criminal charges he faces, and must receive permission from the state three days (within 72 hours) before performing a surgery. He cannot perform surgery “unless anesthesia is administered by a licensed anesthesiologist physician or a CNRA if said CRNA is permitted to administer anesthesia without supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist”; cannot “violate any laws by directing unlicensed personnel to administer anesthesia, IV medications, or service IV bags”; and must “[a]bide by all Advanced Cardiac Life Support protocols.”
Notably, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office alleged that the surgical technician who “personally injected Espinoza with anesthetics” has “no certifications related to being a medical assistant.”
Natassia Louis knew about none of that before the surgery on April 6, 2021 that left her disfigured, according to her interview. The California Medical Board formally recommended discipline against Chacon in December 2021, more than three years after Espinoza’s cardiac arrest, but an administrative hearing has not yet occurred, NBC San Diego reported.
“He shouldn’t be in business right now,” Louis concluded of Dr. Chacon.
Earlier this month, the involuntary manslaughter charge against Chacon was upped to second-degree murder, as prosecutors asserted that the surgeon displayed deliberate inaction with conscious disregard for human life. He’s expected to appear in court on June 5 for a hearing. Chacon has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
Chacon’s defense attorney Marc Carlos responded to the murder case by calling Espinoza’s death a “tragic accident” and “negligence case” at best, and pointed to the settlement that Espinoza’s family reached in a civil lawsuit against the plastic surgeon.
Law&Crime reached out to the attorney for comment on Louis’ interview.
Watch the NBC San Diego interview below:
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