What Happened to Dr. Bonati’s Face? Plus Malpractice History

While we do not have any concrete evidence to suggest that Dr. Bonati had a botched facelift, there is speculation among some of his followers that his appearance is a result of a poorly executed procedure. This speculation may have arisen due to the fact that his face appears unnaturally taut and overdone. However, it is important to note that this is purely speculative and should not distract from the more important issue of the malpractice suit against him. The focus should remain on the facts and evidence presented in the case rather than any speculation about Dr. Bonati's appearance.

The History of Dr. Bonati's Malpractice

A spinal surgeon who draws patients from around the world and who has been sued numerous times for malpractice is being sued again, this time by a Michigan woman who says he performed 13 surgeries on her in seven months and kept her at a private condominium for six weeks after a botched operation. The case cites the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, which entitles plaintiffs to triple damages if they receive a monetary verdict.

The Bonati Institute: The Lure of Minimally Invasive Back Surgery

Dr. Alfred O. Bonati is the founder of the Bonati Institute, a practice that specializes in minimally invasive back surgery. Bonati's Web site says he uses patented tools and techniques for outpatient operations that require local anesthesia. Patients from around the world come to the institute, drawn by the prospect of a quick recovery and the promise of relief from back pain. Many of these patients are looking for alternatives to traditional treatments, which they may have tried without success.

A Pattern of Malpractice Suits

The latest lawsuit filed against Dr. Bonati is not the first. Over the years, he has been sued numerous times for malpractice. In 1996, a Hernando County woman won a $3.5 million judgment against Bonati and his fellow doctors and his Hudson medical practices. The jury found against Bonati, but the doctor declared bankruptcy during the trial. The jury's $3.5 million verdict was later overtured by a U.S. magistrate who said it was "grossly excessive and without support in the evidence."

The Hernando woman's complaint and a number of other malpractice claims against Bonati ended in 2001. They shared in an $8 million court settlement that allowed Bonati and his practices to emerge from bankruptcy. The doctor admitted no liability and his disgruntled ex-patients dropped their complaints.

The Allegations Against Dr. Bonati

The latest lawsuit accuses Bonati and his agents of negligently concluding and advising Stacy Mahan, the Michigan woman, that she did not have an active spinal leak. The lawsuit also says Bonati and his staff never addressed the problem during later surgeries. It also questions whether Bonati was operating what amounted to a health care facility in the condo, in violation of local and state laws.

In addition to the malpractice claims, the lawsuit also makes allegations about Bonati's background. For instance, it claims that he fraudulently entered the United States from Chile, failed the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery exam twice, then created his own board and certified himself. The lawsuit also alleges that to be accepted in Cook County Hospital's training program, he falsely represented in writing that he attended Catholic University in Rome, later admitting that the university was bogus. The lawsuit further claims that he later claimed to have attended the University of Naples in Italy, which in litigation he admitted was bogus and that he doesn't even know if it exists. It also alleges that he falsified recommendation letters to get into medical school at Wake Forest University. The lawsuit says two doctors whom Bonati claimed to have drafted and signed the letters denied doing so in court depositions.

The Seduction of Desperate Patients

Attorney Susan Ramsey, who represents Stacy Mahan in the latest lawsuit against Bonati, has described the initial encounters between patients and the Bonati Institute as "a seduction." Patients who have gone through conventional treatments and still experience pain are told, "Dr. Bonati is God, and he will fix you," Ramsey says. This is exactly what patients who have suffered and are in pain want to hear.

The institute's website is filled with testimonials from patients who praise Bonati's medical care. Despite the numerous lawsuits against the surgeon, he has continued to draw patients from all over the world. However, as the latest lawsuit filed against him shows, the promises of relief from back pain come at a high cost.


Dr. Alfred O. Bonati is a spinal surgeon who has drawn patients from around the world to his Bonati Institute, which specializes in minimally invasive back surgery. However, he has also been sued numerous times for malpractice, with the latest lawsuit filed against him by a Michigan woman alleging that he performed 13 surgeries on her in seven months and kept her at a private condominium for six weeks after a botched operation. The pattern of malpractice suits and allegations of fraud raise questions about the practices of Dr. Bonati and the Bonati Institute. As with any medical procedure, patients should exercise caution and thoroughly research any doctor or institute before undergoing treatment.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top