Plastic surgery practice fined $5M for doctoring online reviews, intimidating customers

Jul 2, 2024, 12:45 PM | Updated: 1:01 pm

plastic surgery seattle...

A view of a woman getting rhinoplasty plastic surgery. (Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami, Getty Images)

(Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami, Getty Images)

Allure Esthetic, a Seattle plastic surgery center that specializes in facial, body, hair and transgender operations, has been fined $5 million due to a consumer protection lawsuit claiming the company and the surgeon threatened patients with illegal non-disclosure agreements while falsifying online reviews to inflate the plastic surgeon’s reputation.

An individual plastic surgeon, Javad Sajan, M.D., was also listed in the lawsuit.

Among the $5 million fine, $1.5 million will be issued as restitutions to 21,000 Washington residents. Sajan and Allure Esthetic must remove all the fake reviews it created. Additionally, patients who were forced to sign the illegal NDAs will each receive $50. Patients who paid a non-refundable consultation fee before they were forced to sign the illegal NDA will each receive $120.

More transgender news in Washington: Transgender employee suing Boeing for harassment, unsafe work environment

Prior to Ferguson’s lawsuit, Allure’s website prominently displayed “five-star” Google and Yelp ratings. A claim that Sajan was the “Ranked No. 1 Plastic Surgeon in Seattle” would also be found prominently on its website.

This resolution came less than three months after U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez ruled that Allure’s non-disclosure agreements illegally restricted patients from posting negative reviews about the business. Other transgressions from Sajan and Allure include ordering employees to post fake positive reviews and the surgery center curating — and rigging — “best doctor” competitions authored by local media outlets. Allure Estetchics would also pay staff and contractors to vote for Sajan as the best plastic surgeon in said category, casting as many votes as websites would allow despite not being an official patient of Allure.

The Attorney General’s Office found before-and-after photographs from plastic surgery were altered. Additionally, the lawsuit also claimed Allure applied for, and kept, tens of thousands of dollars in rebates that were intended for its patients.

“Writing a truthful review about a business should not subject you to threats or intimidation,” Ferguson said in a prepared statement. “Consumers rely on reviews when determining who to trust, especially services that affect their health and safety. This resolution holds Allure accountable for brazenly violating that trust — and the law — and ensures the clinic stops its harmful conduct. We will take action against any business that attempts to silence and intimidate honest Washingtonians.”

While investigating the Seattle-based plastic surgery center after the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in December 2022, it found Sajan himself emailed fake reviews to a foreign contractor to post in exchange for payment.

A top option for transitioning?

In Washington, Democratic lawmakers have passed bills to shield patients who seek abortions or gender-affirming care from subpoenas and warrants issued out of other states and to prevent health insurance plans from denying coverage for gender-affirming care. In turn, the state has become a “safe haven” for those trying to transition.

But even in Washington, the process can be grueling. Procedures and processes could extend from a series of months to years. With more people seeking services in Washington, concerns the transgender surgery system is quickly becoming overwhelmed have grown, leaving those desperate for the operation to take risks and chances.

New poll: AG Ferguson has edge in governor’s race over Reichert

With inflated, falsified reviews among other tactics, Javad Sajan and Allure Esthetic ranked as one of the more highly-regarded places for transgender procedures.

“I read the lawsuit and, while the review/NDA s*** is not awesome, all I really care about is getting this done,” one person wrote on Reddit discussing Sajan and Allure Esthetic.

“I’m probably gonna go for it because I am so tired of waiting,” another person added.

“I have a consultation w Dr Sajan tomorrow & have been worried about the lawsuit stuff but am in a similar position of just wanting to get the thing done!” another Redditor said a year ago.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Plastic surgery practice fined $5M for doctoring online reviews, intimidating customers