This is the result of one woman’s plastic surgery gone wrong; learn how to protect yourself

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's a new way to cut the fat around those areas of your body where it tends to settle, like your waist.

You can now have it singed right off with a laser.

However, some say this process, sometimes called SMART Lipo, isn't always the smart thing to do.

When things go wrong, you may have no one to protect you.

Whether it's a vacation, wedding or high school reunion, there are moments in our lives we want to look our best.

"I had seen this procedure advertised, so I thought, well, I'll look into it. So that's why I decided to go do it," Lea Lawrence said.

Lawrence tried exercise and dieting but just couldn't get rid of that bulge around her waist.

That's why she turned to SMART Lipo at Laser Aesthetics Body and Wellness in Arlington.

"It was an alternative to liposuction, and I had seen videos of how liposuction was done, and so this was certainly something that looked like a better idea to do," she said. "But as it turned out, it wasn't."

Lawrence showed WREG photos of what she looked like after SMART Lipo.

She suffered third-degree burns and other problems. She said she was botched.

"I've got permanent tissue damage, scarring on my abdomen," she said. "There's a lot of lumpy, uneven areas, and it looks like I've been mutilated, basically butchered. It's awful looking."

On its website, Laser Aesthetics Body and Wellness describes SMART Lipo as less invasive than regular liposuction.

It's a same-day procedure performed in an office setting where you're given a cocktail of pills and a shot before the procedure.

There are no anesthesiologists, hospital or surgery center to pay, so it costs less.

"The technique is safe," Dr. Robert Wallace said.

Wallace is the head of the University of Tennessee's plastic surgery department. He said the problem with this procedure isn't the technique but usually who's allowed to perform it.

"It's not that the technology is bad," he said. "It's that their patient might not be aware that they're seeing a physician who doesn't have formal training in the technique."

The owner of Laser Aesthetics said they have one doctor who's performed more than 500 successful procedures.

But he also admitted Dr. Brett Campfield didn't spend years learning how to do this procedure like a plastic surgeon; he learned from the company that made the machine, Cynosure.

Wallace is familiar with this type of training.

"The manufacturers that sell this equipment, they have training courses and weekend courses, but they're not closed to any doctor. So in this town, in Memphis we have numerous places of non-plastic surgery doing plastic surgery procedures."

Tennessee law allows this.

It also allows this kind of surgery to be done outside a hospital or surgery center.

Others states, like California, have stopped this practice.

"This issue is largely about making money, and you don't see these doctors doing, say, gall bladder removal or fixing a hernia in strip malls. This is about cosmetic surgery and making money," Wallace said.

Wallace said the key to getting better results is asking one simple question.

"A good question somebody could ask anybody that they would consult with is, if that doctor had privileges to perform that same procedures in a hospital, because if he did not have that privilege, then I would bet he's not a trained surgeon."

Some of these cosmetic procedures are done in strip malls and office settings because the physicians don't have admitting privileges to perform them at hospitals and surgery centers.

"They need to stop allowing people who don't have the credentials and the schooling to perform these procedures in office settings," Lawrence said.

Lawrence reached out to Wallace for corrective surgery. She also filed a complaint with the state medical board and said she hopes the state will strengthen its laws about where and who can perform this kind of procedure.

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