A 43-year-old Kent woman who does not want to be identified has been awarded $13 million by a King County jury after her former cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Kristine Brecht, allegedly left her “permanently disfigured,” and suffering from “fear, embarrassment (and) depression” associated with two surgeries in 2020.
Graphic photographs included in the lawsuit showed the patient’s abdomen post-surgery with a gaping, infected wound, and photographs of thick, pronounced scarring on the abdomen and arms.
“When she thinks about her body now she thinks about how she hates herself. That’s an all-encompassing feeling that she carries with her every day,” said plaintiff attorney Ruby Aliment.
This is the latest blow to the Burien doctor, who has been at the center of a KING 5 investigation over the last year.
Last month, the Washington State Medical Commission (WMC) suspended Brecht’s license for five years for performing unauthorized surgeries in her unlicensed, same-day surgery center, Aesthetic Rejuvenation & Spa. The WMC found Brecht did not follow conditions of an Agreed Order to stop conducting surgeries that required sedation and that she had a “lack of remorse” or “awareness that the conduct was wrong.”
The multi-million-dollar jury verdict follows a trial where the plaintiff presented evidence that Brecht lacked the training or necessary skills to safely perform liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast lift in the procedures. The lawsuit also accused Brecht of not disclosing the risks associated with the surgeries, taking off too much skin during the surgeries, and not providing appropriate after care, even when the surgical sites appeared to be infected.
According to the complaint, “(The patient) grew increasingly depressed as a result of the failed procedures. In response, Dr. Brecht suggested … that (the patient) see a nutritionist and exercise more. She told (the patient) that ‘nothing is guaranteed in medicine.’”
“There’s the physical pain of what she went through but also just the medical gaslighting and betrayal from Dr. Brecht; it just made her lose trust in all doctors and in herself,” Aliment said.
Dr. Brecht’s Response
Dr. Brecht’s attorney issued a statement Wednesday that said the doctor will “rigorously appeal” the verdict.
“Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Kristine Brecht has been dedicated to providing the highest standards of patient care and safety. Thousands have trusted their cosmetic needs and health to her because of her commitment, expertise, and proven track record. This recent verdict is an outlier in an otherwise spotless and remarkable career,” wrote Brecht’s attorney Jeffery Wheat.
The KING 5 investigation found the WMC had received at least 17 official complaints about Dr. Brecht. One complaint involved the death of a West Seattle woman in 2019. In that case, the WMC found Brecht failed to carry out routine medical safeguards including getting a full medical history of the patient and performing a thorough exam before the surgery.
The recent jury verdict was a validation for the plaintiff, according to her attorney.
“For my client that was really huge for (the jury) to say ‘We believe you and what happened to you is really wrong,’” Aliment said.