Three years have passed since Christina Castellanos' breast reduction surgery at Hunterdon Healthcare -- and life hasn't been the same since.
The 37-year-old Bound Brook resident was not only left with botched breasts following the May 2018 procedure, but later received a letter from the hospital saying that her doctor -- Andrea L. Strauss -- breached safety protocols and may have exposed her to blood born pathogens due to unsanitary needles.
To put it simply, life since the procedure has been hell, said Castellanos.
Represented by Scott Leonard of the Leonard Legal Group in Morristown, the actress in June 2019 filed a lawsuit against Strauss and the Hunterdon Healthcare System.
A Hunterdon Healthcare System spokeswoman did not immediately return Daily Voice's request for comment.
"Mentally, I'll never be the same," said Castellanos, who appeared in several episodes of Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," "Law & Order SVU" and several other popular television shows.
"I’m in therapy now. I have been hospitalized almost 30 times since the surgery with infections."
Further, Castellanos has yet to receive the documents she requested from the hospital, and lives in fear every day that a pathogen she may have been exposed to years ago will eventually present itself, she said.
Castellanos says she has been hospitalized nearly 30 times since the procedure with infections, and experiences crippling anxiety and body shame daily.
A Bridgewater native, Castellanos went in for breast reduction surgery performed by Strauss at Hunterdon Plastic Surgery in Flemington in May 2019. She returned to the plastic surgery center to have breasts drained days later.
"This was my first time ever doing anything like this, so I felt like I could trust my doctor," Castellanos said. "That’s what you would think."
The following month, Castellanos developed infections and significant scarring following the procedure, she says in the suit.
Further, Castellanos' breasts measured incorrectly, she said. So, she returned to Strauss' office for nipple repositioning because the procedure was "improperly performed" the first time, according to the suit.
"[Strauss] did the procedure in her officer, where I was sitting on a chair and the only thing [the physician] did was stick my breast with a few needles and perform surgery while I was wide awake," Castellanos told Daily Voice.
"I saw all this blood and it was just horrific. I felt something as wrong. She didn’t have nay nursing staff with her. It was just her by herself.
"I was confused because this was all new to me. I thought something like a nipple procedure you would think you’d be under full anesthesia but I wasn’t."
Castellanos' scarring only got worse, and she wasn't healing properly.
She received additional injections, care and treatment October 2018 through January 2019, the suit says.
In June 2019, Castellanos got a letter from David Skillinge, President of Hunterdon Medical Group, saying that she may have been exposed to blood born pathogens such as hepatitis or HIV due to a breach in safety protocols for injections.
Castellanos returned to the center for reparative surgery by a different doctor in September 2019, who the actress said is doing everything he can "to fix errors that Dr. Strauss made."
Castellanos is scheduled to go in for her final surgery on Monday, April 19, 2021.
"I’m hoping that this is the last of it where I can begin to try to heal," she said. "This has definitely taken a toll on me."
Castellanos says she has felt ashamed of her body because of the botched job by Strauss. She can only hope it doesn't impact her career, as it has her mental and physical health.
"In my career, your image is everything," she said. "If I ever get cast for a scene where I need to have my shirt off I’m going to feel embarrassed. Thank god for my current doctor for doing everything he can to try to save me, so I can feel somewhat normal again."
Strauss office has since shuttered and she apparently was fired from the Hunterdon County hospital, Castellanos said.
"As a direct and proximate result of defendant’s negligent care and treatment of the plaintiff, plaintiff developed infections and was required to undergo additional surgical procedures, suffered pain and suffering and required additional medical care and treatment," the suit reads.
The Hunterdon Plastic Surgery, Hunterdon Medical Group, Hunterdon Medical Center and Hunterdon Healthcare Dr. Andrea Strauss are listed as the defendants.
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