The Valley Surgical Center in West Hills along with the New Life Surgery Center in Beverly Hills, have temporarily stopped performing Lap-Band surgeries. Valley Surgical also said it will conduct a top-to-bottom review of its operations by an independent medical expert.

The decision comes days after Irvine, Calif.-based Allergan, maker of the Lap-Band, said it would stop selling the device to surgery centers affiliated with the 1-800-Get Thin marketing campaign. That organization is facing numerous investigations by state and federal officials, including the Food and Drug Administration, which has accused the organization of misleading consumers in its advertising. In addition, the California Department of Insurance and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have launched investigations of the organization and its practices.

The Lap-Band is used to treat obesity. Five Southern California residents, including one from Simi Valley, have died following the surgery, according to public documents and published reports.

On Feb. 3rd, attorneys representing 1-800-Get Thin delivered a letter to the Los Angeles Coroner requesting an investigation into the Sept. 8, 2011 death of Paula Rojeski on grounds that the complaints around her death, filed by two former surgery center employees who are plaintiffs in a whistleblower suit against the center, constitute a false complaint. “Our view is that the information provided by these former employees is false and motivated only by hopes of personal financial gain,” attorneys representing the center said.

Judy Temes