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Plastic Surgeon Sued Over ‘Cocaine Nose’ Photos

A Chicago woman is suing her former plastic surgeon for using photos of her rhinoplasty operation without her consent.

Sabrina Kropp, age 55, alleges that Dr. Robert Walton of Plastic Surgery Chicago LLC posted before-and-after photographs of her septal perforation reconstruction surgery, alongside the provocative title ‘cocaine nose.’

To her dismay, the plastic surgeon used the images on his new website… he labeled the images as ‘cocaine nose’ in order to advertise his practice.
When Kropp underwent surgery in 2004, she assumed that her medical records would be kept confidential. To her dismay, the plastic surgeon used the images on his new website in 2013. He labeled the images as ‘cocaine nose’ in order to advertise his practice.

According to the lawsuit, the discovery made Kropp, “distressed, shamed and embarrassed.” She is suing Dr. Walton for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that requires medical professionals to obtain written authorization before disclosing records.

The press reported on July 31 that Dr. Walton had taken down the photographs, which were still viewable via the Internet Archive. However as of August 1 it appears as though the images and description are still live at

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What is Septal Perforation?

Septal perforation, commonly referred to as cocaine nose, is the result of long-term, intranasal cocaine abuse. Here are quick facts about the condition:

  • The interior of the nose consists of two chambers divided by a fleshy mucous membrane.
  • This mucous membrane acts as a filter to keep out fine particles such as dust and pollen.
  • When you inhale powdered cocaine it damages the membrane, sometimes causing nose bleeds.
  • Protracted abuse of cocaine over time causes a hole to appear in the membrane.
  • This condition, known as septal perforation, gives the nose a collapsed appearance.

According to the ABPS Certified Plastic Surgeon’s website, “Dramatic improvement in nasal form and function can be achieved with this technique which was pioneered by Dr. Walton.” The statement goes on to describe how he implants an artificial Bat Flap into the nose to replace the missing mucous membrane. He also uses rib cartilage grafts to add structural support. It concludes by saying that a stable nasal platform has been restored.

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