A barrier-breaking generation gives context to contemporary female life.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cosmetic Surgery, Not a Pretty Death

Plastic surgery. Don't even go there. Have you done the cost/benefit analysis? You could die -- for "beauty." It's the most elective of surgeries, but it's still surgery, and it comes with risks of infection, blood clots, blood loss and punctured organs.

Over the weekend, Donda West, the 58-year-old mother of rapper Kanye West died, apparently from complications after plastic surgery. She was former head of the English department at Chicago State University and a big influence on West who wrote the song "Hey Mama" in praise of her.

She allegedly was seeking breast reduction and a "tummy tuck" according to one plastic surgeon who had seen her weeks earlier and refused to treat her unless she got a medical clearance because of a preexisting medical condition. He says he never heard back from her. Another surgeon has just come forward to say he performed the breast and abdominal surgery on West, according to TMZ (count on them to get this sort of LA info first).

"Tummy tuck" is a deceptively cute name for a major surgical procedure where fat and skin are removed; the fat by pumping the body full of fluids containing the anesthetic lidocaine and then vacuuming out the slurry. Not pretty. Risks include embolisms from blood clots and errant fat globules and and then there's lidocaine overdose. Abdominoplasty is the riskiest cosmetic procedure around -- as serious an operation as general abdominal surgery-- and needing assiduous aftercare to be on the lookout for these complications. West had the procedure at an unnamed venue then succumbed in her home, according to her publicist. An ambulance brought her in cardiac arrest to a Los Angeles area hospital where doctors were unable to revive her. [these details are from preliminary news reports]

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, abdominoplasty is one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed in the United States, with approximately 172,500 tummy tucks performed in 2006, compared with just 34,000 in 1997. The Society notes that more than 90 percent of cosmetic surgery is performed on women.

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