LOS ANGELES -- A former Beverly Hills plastic surgeon is in trouble with the law because he fueled his car with human fat sucked from his patients.

Craig Alan Bittner apparently created "lipo-diesel" from his patient's fat and used it to fuel his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator.

California public health officials say that it is illegal because state law forbids the use of human medical waste to power vehicles.

Bittner said he was trying to be environmentally friendly by using the "lipo-diesel."

"The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel -- and I have more fat than I can use," Bittner wrote on lipodiesel.com, which is no longer online. "Not only do they get to lsoe their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the earth."

His patients might not have been such willing participants, however.

An attorney for three of the patients suing Bittner says his assistant and girlfriend removed more fat than necessary -- presumably to use it for making the fuel -- and that the patients were disfigured because of it. Neither his girlfriend nor the assistant had medical licenses.

Dozens of other patients have complained about Bittner to the state medical board. The board is investigating Bittner, but has made no official comment.

Bittner's practice, Beverly Hills Liposculpture, closed in November. It's unclear when he started and stopped making his "lipo-diesel" or how he made it.

According to Bittner's Web site, he moved to South America after closing his practice to do volunteer work at a clinic. The attorney for the patients suing Bittner suspects he fled the country because of the investigations.