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Ron
Photo by Christopher Gardner

Friendly Dissuasion: By going public, Ron Nance hopes to warn men about the dangers of penile surgery.

In the wake of new allegations against his doctor, penile enlargement victim Ron Nance has gotten more than his 15 minutes of fame.

By Ami Chen Mills

If life imitates art, the title of John Wayne Bobbitt's new porno flick, Frankenpenis, couldn't be more apt. Especially since Bobbitt's penile enlargement surgery with Dr. Melvyn Rosenstein didn't go, by his own estimation, the way he had hoped. The formerly penis-severed Bobbitt, no stranger to going public with his private parts, is not alone in suffering complications after the controversial cosmetic surgery, which he discussed publicly on a recent segment of the Howard Stern radio show.

While Bobbitt is the most well-known victim of a botched enlargement, more victims have begun to come forward. In the process, evidence continues to mount against penile enlargement surgeon Dr. Rosenstein, who has recently had his license suspended pending a hearing on charges brought by the California Medical Board. Rosenstein, also known as "Dr. Dick" operated a sales office in San Francisco and performed the controversial surgery on some 3,000 clients.

As the Culver City-based doctor and once-media darling battles the charges, along with criticism by a reconstructive surgeon and the American Urological Association, reporters and cameras follow.

Metro ran a cover story about a local patient of Rosenstein's named Ron Nance [Unhung Hero, Feb. 8] and the botched surgery which left him with a smaller, infected and ultimately impotent member. A flurry of activity followed the article--which hit the streets as news of disciplinary action against Dr. Rosenstein reached Northern California.

Subsequently, Nance was featured in a story on Cable News Network Feb. 19, in a Hard Copy segment Feb. 20, and interviewed by an Associated Press correspondent Feb. 23.

"I'm a little out of breath," Nance says. "It's all been happening so fast." Oprah hasn't called yet, but Ron says he did get an odd phone call from someone who worked at a Hormel plant in Arizona.

"Maybe they want to suggest I use their franks as an implant," Nance muses. There are a number of entrepreneurs cashing in on the post-enlargement market. A man called Nance just days before offering a device to restore the foreskin Nance lost to an emergency circumcision after his enlargement.

Ron says his appearance in Metro was a way "to confront what I've done and what's been done to me," and to say to friends and family, "I'm better now. Everything's going to be okay." Continued media appearances at the request of Dr. McAninch, Nance says, are to ward men away from the experimental enlargement procedures which the American Urological Association states have "not been shown to be safe or efficacious." Ron Nance claims he was not paid for appearances, and a source at Hard Copy attests that Nance was not remunerated by the program. "It's not about the money," Ron asserts. Changing men's minds about having the procedure done "makes all the embarrassments worthwhile."

According to Nance, a day after his story appeared in Metro, a man approached him during his night job bodyguarding a San Jose stripper and told him tearfully he had scheduled a procedure similar to Nance's but had canceled after reading the story. Another man phoned Metro to say he was postponing his operation.v On an ironic note, a fellow also named Ron Nance (not related) called to say he shared a moniker with our source. "It's just not fair," he complained--co workers were teasing him unmercifully.

If allegations in court documents are true, Dr. Rosenstein's once-lucrative enlargement practice has taken on the appearance of a fly-by-knife operation in a shop of horrors. On Feb. 16, Samuel Reyes, Los Angeles administrative law judge for the medical board, ordered 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--who has called the medical board's actions a "political witch-hunt"--is appealing the suspension.

According to Judge Reyes' interim suspension order, allowing Rosenstein to continue in medicine "will endanger the public health, safety and welfare." Reyes' findings--drawn from the testimony of patients and former Rosenstein Group staffers--read like a users' manual for the Spanish Inquisition.

According to charges, Rosenstein, who has performed approximately 3,000 penis enlargements by his own estimate, used false advertising to lure patients to his clinic, the Rosenstein Medical Group, from dozens of sales offices around the country and paid salesmen commissions based on the number of men consenting to surgery. He also, the document alleges, failed to perform presurgical physical exams and neglected to counsel patients on the possible negative effects of the surgery--all of which, Judge Reyes concludes, represents "an extreme departure from the standard of practice."

Because patients were not examined prior to surgeries, some operations were reportedly interrupted mid-stride when the doctor or a staff member noticed existing conditions like herpes lesions or hernia scars. The medical board further claims that the doctor's operating room was cleaned in haste, and "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."

The document cites instances where the same breathing apparatus was used on more than one patient and how, in one case, the doctor continued to use the same suturing needle with which he had accidentally struck himself. For some patients interviewed by the board, anesthesia had not taken effect when Rosenstein began their procedures, resulting what the board refers to as 'once-in-a-lifetime' pain."

According to a former Rosenstein staffer cited in the order, 90 percent of the doctor's patients suffered post-op infections. One scrub nurse testified she was told by the doctor to inform anxious patients that "pain, swelling and smelling yellow exudate were normal."

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

Concluding that Rosenstein "lacks fundamental knowledge and/or basic skills" and has engaged in unprofessional conduct and acts of "gross negligence," Judge Reyes notes a reasonable probability that when all is said and done, Dr. Melvyn Rosenstein will lose his California medical license.

Dr. Dick
Cameo Role? Melvyn Rosenstein reportedly appears in former patient John Wayne Bobbitt's porn flick, 'Frankenpenis,' due out by April. A Rosenstein spokesman says if that's true, the doctor will sue.

"He's devastated," reports Rosenstein Group Marketing Director Chris Solton of Rosenstein, adding that he still does have a license to practice in other states. Solton says other doctors at the group continue to perform enlargement surgeries.

What about restrictions against Rosenstein barring advertising or scheduling of surgeries? "We have to restructure that, of course," Solton says. A call to the former Rosenstein Group office reached a recorded greeting from "Cosmetic Surgery International." According to California Deputy Attorney General Elisa Wolfe, it is illegal for Rosenstein to continue to operate his group, employ staff or collect money for surgeries performed by other doctors.

Although beleaguered by reporters and ongoing proceedings, Chris Solton asserts Rosenstein may still win his license back. "It's like a bad dream. But we are looking forward to clearing [Rosenstein's] name," he says.

According to Solton, charges against Rosenstein were brought by disgruntled staffers with poor performance records at the clinic, some of whom are suing the doctor. Besides, he says, "There are so many happy patients out there--hundreds and hundreds and thousands--and three are complaining."

Actually, there are four patients listed in the court order. Deputy Attorney General Wolfe will not reveal the total number of patients involved in the accusation. "I won't get into that game with them. The numbers are not the point," she counters. Wolfe maintains that the medical board did not want to create an "unwieldy" case by including too many patients. She adds that the fact that only some patients have spoken up "doesn't mean that everything else was fine. It means nothing about everything else," Wolfe states flatly. "Ultimately, I have complaints from many sources ... [and] plenty of evidence ... I think the facts speak for themselves."

Ron Nance has read the order against Dr. Rosenstein, the doctor who promised Nance he'd stand by his side and who said last month that he still "loved" Ron, despite Nance's current malpractice suit against him.

"I'm sad that he traded his [urological] practice for a sign that said 'Dr. Dick,' " Nance says. "You don't just walk down to Walgreens and buy your medical license--and he threw it away. I ache about that. But I am glad he's not performing enlargements anymore."

Reached Feb. 29 in San Francisco, where he is undergoing tests one day before reconstructive surgery with another doctor in another practice, Ron's voice shakes. "I'm just real nervous," he says. It's been more than a year since Ron's 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, and after a silence, adds, "That's a little joke, there."

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From the Mar. 7-13, 1996 issue of Metro

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