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The Decline of Doctor Dick

Evidence mounts against penile enlargement surgeon Melvyn Rosenstein's empire of pain

On Feb. 16, ruling on a Feb. 8 hearing, Los Angeles Judge Samuel Reyes ordered Melvyn Rosenstein's medical license suspended until hearings on the medical board's formal accusation begin sometime in April. Rosenstein is thus restricted from practicing any form of medicine in California, including general urology. Dr. Rosenstein is appealing the suspension.

According to Judge Reyes' interim suspension Order, allowing Rosenstein to continue practicing medicine "will endanger the public health, safety and welfare." The court's "findings of fact"--drawn from the testimony of patients and former Rosenstein Group staffers--reads like a users' manual for the Spanish Inquisition.

According to charges by his detractors, Rosenstein used false advertising to lure patients to his clinic, the Rosenstein Medical Group. He paid salespeople commissions based on the number of men consenting to surgery, failed to perform pre-surgical physical exams, neglected to counsel patients on the possible negative effects of the surgery--all of which, Judge Reyes concluded, indicates "an extreme departure from the standard of practice."

Because patients were not examined prior to surgeries, some operations were interrupted mid-stride when the doctor or a staff member noticed existing conditions like herpes lesions or hernia scars. The doctor's operating room was cleaned in haste. "As a result, blood was occasionally left on the floor; also, liposuctioned fat which had become airborne during operations sometimes remained on walls and cabinets."

Further, "the same breathing apparatus was used on more than one patient [and] ... on some occasions, respondent continued to use the same suturing needle with which he had accidentally struck himself." For some patients, anesthesia had not taken effect when Rosenstein began their procedures, "resulting in 'once-in-a-lifetime' pain."

Rosenstein patients cited in the order developed a "redundant" foreskin over their penises' heads and reported sexual dysfunction, disfigurement and, in one case, hospitalization.

After concluding that Rosenstein has "engaged in unprofessional conduct" and acts of "gross negligence," Judge Reyes opined that there is a "reasonable probability" that, when all is said and done, Dr. Melvyn Rosenstein will ultimately lose his California medical license.

"The man is dead in the water, at least in California," Ron Nance observes. "I'm not happy about that. I'm sad that he traded his [urological] practice for a sign that said 'Dr. Dick.' You don't just walk down to Walgreens and buy your medical license--and he threw it away. But I am glad he's not performing enlargements anymore."

Reached last week in San Francisco, where he is undergoing tests one day before reconstructive surgery, Nance's voice shakes. "I'm just real nervous," he says. It's been over a year since the original enlargement surgery left him with a shrunken, alien appendage. "I'm so tired of this," he sighs. "It may be months before I can hopefully try to use it again. But I have to get this thing behind me. I'll be glad to finally say, 'I'm just going to have to live with this ... or without it," he says.

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From the March 7-13, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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