SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio plastic surgeon who faced allegations from several former patients recently learned he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Texas Medical Board.
Earlier this year, a group of women shared their stories with the KSAT Defenders' Tim Gerber, detailing the complications they said they experienced after having breast augmentation surgery performed by Dr. Thomas Jeneby.
The women alleged they ended up with serious infections that left their bodies deformed. Eleven of the women filed complaints with the TMB.
READ THE INITIAL REPORT: State investigating claims local plastic surgeon failed to treat infections, complications
After an investigation, which included a review of each patient's chart by two board-certified plastic surgeons, the board dismissed all of the patients' complaints, concluding Jeneby did nothing wrong.
"When I saw those letters, I jumped up like you see in the Avis commercials. It was awesome and it said, you know, I'm doing my job," Jeneby said. "In essence, they found that all of them (the complaints) were unfounded. They came up with a conclusion that my care was accurate, within the standard of care, and it's one of the biggest wins for a doctor in the state."
In documents reviewed by the Defenders, the TMB wrote, "There was insufficient evidence to prove a violation of the Medical Practices Act occurred" and that Jeneby "properly evaluated" the patients and "appropriately treated their postoperative breast surgery complications."
"You don't usually see 11 (complaints) at once. You know, one or two a year is fairly regular for most physicians but 11 at once is fairly different," Jeneby said.
The former patients said they endured extreme pain as their bodies became infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas, E. coli and pseudomonas bacteria, which forced some of the women to have their breast implants removed, leaving their bodies deformed and requiring more surgeries.
Jeneby maintains the women most likely contracted the infections by improperly caring for their post-surgery wounds and said there will always be a small percentage of patients who experience some type of complications with implant surgery.
"Complications are not an indication that something was wrong with surgery," Jeneby said. "It's just part of the vernacular of surgery. If you're not willing to take the risk, which is in general 3 to 6 percent in most procedures, then you shouldn't do surgery."
Jeneby said he runs a safe practice that has been recertified multiple times by the Joint Commission, which, is "the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care."
"I'm the only Joint Commission-accredited office-based surgery center belonging solely to a plastic surgeon," Jeneby said. "The Joint Commission is a national nonprofit that looks across all kinds of issues regarding patient care, advancement, safety, and they do the accreditations for hospitals. So I purposely used that one to accredit my surgery center."
Jeneby also said knowing that two board-certified plastic surgeons reviewed his cases gives him great confidence.
"To have plastic surgeons agree with another plastic surgeon on such a large scale means I'm doing something right. I mean, I was very proud of that," Jeneby said.
Former Jeneby patient Starr Marks said she is now appealing the TMB's decision on her case. Earlier this year, she went public with her experience, writing a blog that went viral about her monthslong journey to recover from her post-surgery infections. Marks said she's still getting messages from women who endured similar experiences.
"It's just appalling that it continues to happen. There's people that are actively going through what happened to myself and other women so it's not something that's in the past. It's still occurring, and that's disturbing," Marks said. "I myself will continue to bring awareness so that other women will not fall into that same, you know, down spiral that I myself did and all these other women did."
Marks and several former patients recently protested the opening of a new spa owned by Jeneby. She said they were hoping to bring more awareness to their experiences.
Marks still believes Jeneby is responsible for improperly caring for her complications and said she will continue to share her story as she appeals the TMB's ruling.
"That's just round one. You can appeal it. You can move forward. There's things you can do if you feel like your case wasn't looked at deep enough. If you want them to take another look, there is an appeal process," Marks said. "So that battle for him, maybe he won that, but ultimately I feel myself and all of these women coming together, we're going to win the war, because you're not going to be able to continue to do this without people knowing, without people having knowledge. That's my goal. Even just saving one women from the experience I had is worth it."
While the state found no fault in Jeneby’s care, he still offered a heartfelt apology to his former patients who had complications.
"I am truly sorry that they had a problem. It hurts me personally. I'm always hurt when somebody is hurt," Jeneby said. "So with all of my heart, I want to say I'm sorry they had a problem, and I hope that all of their personal health care needs are met at this point."
Jeneby said since the complaints were filed, he has made some changes to his practices.
In addition to having patients fill out several consent forms acknowledging potential risks and complications, he also now makes them watch a series of videos further explaining the risks and complications they could face.
Jeneby also said he's now more cautious about who he performs surgery on, saying he turns away about 33 percent of potential patients after interviewing them if he feels they aren't good candidates for surgery. Prior to the complaints, he said he turned away roughly 20 percent of patients seeking surgery.
In addition to the dismissals from the TMB, Jeneby also recently learned two lawsuits filed against him this year by patients were dismissed by a Bexar County judge, and he was awarded court costs and attorney fees.