Expert surgeon who transformed Marlou into Xander not always successful

October 3, 2017 - 3:55 PM
Social media and television personality Xander Ford poses with Dr. Samuel Eric Yapjuangco and his wife, Vina. (Photo from Dr. Yapjuangco's Facebook page)

Easily the most talked about personality in social media right now is Xander Ford or the teenage “entertainer” formerly known as Marlou Arizala — a former member of the Hasht-5, a group of unattractive teenage boys who became a novelty for their viral videos and their insistence on feeling good about their appearance.

From just feeling handsome, the 19-year-old Xander has now transformed into someone who could pass for a matinee idol, thanks in large part to the wizardry of plastic surgeon Dr. Samuel Eric Yapjuanco of The Icon Clinic.

Yapjuangco — Doc Yappy to friends and patients — has been operating the clinic together with his wife, Vina. Aside from Xander, Yapjuangco also has other celebrity clients that include Presidential Communications assistant secretary Mocha Uson and members of her girl group the Mocha Girls, who have acknowledged his work on them on their Facebook pages.

According to The Icon Clinic’s official website (, Yapjuangco is a board-certified plastic surgeon, a diplomate of the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery and an active fellow of the Philippine Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Papras), apparently the only society recognized by both the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine College of Surgeons to practice the field of plastic surgery in the country.

In an interview with Business Mirror early this year, Yapjuangco said most of his clinic’s clientele are millennials.

“They (millennials) want to be more pleasing, to be more beautiful. They consider that having a beautiful face and body is always an edge in most aspects of life, especially in getting into their chosen career,” Yapjuanco said in the interview.

But even with his recent success with Xander, Yapjuangco and his clinic are still dealing with fallout from procedures on another patient that had gone awry.

Last March, Yapjuanco with the help of an anesthesiologist Dr. Jose Jovito Mendiola and three nurses conducted three procedures (breast revision, liposuction and butt surgery) on businesswoman Shiryl Saturnino, who died reportedly while still on the operating table.

Dr. Jane Munzon, a histopathologist at the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory later told media that Saturnino had died of a fat embolism.

“There was fat in the blood vessels which entered into her lungs, making it hard for her to breathe…We cannot control fat embolism. It’s beyond the control of surgeons. But research shows when an emboli develops, trauma could be its number one cause. If [the operation is] traumatic, there’s more chance of fat embolism,” Munzon explained.

Eastern Police District Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, the head of Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) tasked with the case was also quoted as saying that Yapjuangco, Mendiola and three nurses would be charged with violating Republic Act 2332 or the Medical Practice Act of 1959.

Marlou Arizala’s before photo. Right, Dr. Samuel Eric Yapjuangco with another celebrity patient, Mocha Uson. (Photo from Mocha’s Facebook page)

Following the incident, The Icon Clinic was temporarily shut down by the Mandaluyong City government and a cease and desist order was issued against the establishment by Mandaluyong Mayor Menchie Abalos acting in coordination with the Department of Health.

The family of Saturnino was also said to be mulling filing charges against the clinic as well.

But charges apparently were never filed and the clinic was allowed to resume operations as nothing more about the Saturnino case was reported afterwards.

InterAksyon tried to reach out to Yapjuangco’s camp for his side of the story on the Saturnino case as well as to further elaborate on the procedures he did to Xander. The doctor, through a representative, declined to comment on the incident involving Saturnino but was open to discuss Xander’s case.

A report by, citing various sources including The Icon Clinic, PrettyLooks, which was identified as Xander’s sponsor, and Star Image Artist Management which manages the young man’s career, revealed that Xander haD undergone several procedures, namely anti-wrinkle, eyelash extensions, 4D eyebrow cloning, rhinoplasty plus alarplasty on his nose, lip tint, mentoplasty or chin augmentation and mandibular angle augmentation with fillers to fix his jaw.

The total cost of all the procedures was estimated by to be between P255,000 to P305,000.