According to prosecutors, the availability of cut-rate plastic surgery at the Bishop Gardens complex was an open secret among the local Brazilian community. Luiz and Ana Maria Ribeiro, neither of whom is licensed to practice medicine in the United States, would typically enter the country on 30-day work visas, set up shop on a massage table in Celia Sielemann's basement, and churn out lipos and nose jobs for $1500 to $3000 a pop.
Sielemann was later arrested while attempting to flee the country; she acknowledged renting out the basement to the Ribeiros but denied knowing about any surgery. This claim was contradicted by various neighbors, who allege that Sielemann had been hawking the procedures door-to-door for years.
Lest we think this was an isolated incident, a friend who formerly worked for the New York City Department of Health informs me that this kind of black market plastic surgery ring is increasingly common among New York's immigrant communities.
Now, I pride myself on frugality as much as the next man--I shop the clearance rack, clip coupons, and book hotels on Priceline. But when it comes to someone slicing into my flesh and sucking out fat deposits through a canula, this is not the arena in which I am looking to save a buck.
As I am so fond of pointing out in this space, I don't mean to make light of this poor woman's death; it was no doubt a devastating loss for her family. Nor do I mean to trivialize the suffering that other "patients" have gone through at the Ribeiros' hands. But people, I don't care where you come from in the world, I cannot be fully sympathetic to your plight if you voluntarily undergo massage-table plastic surgery in a condominium basement--especially when marketed door-to-door. Call me a blame-the-victim conservative, but all the duly licensed physicians in Massachusetts can't cure this kind of stupidity.