Donda West, mother of Kanye West, died last Saturday at the age of 58, from complications potentially stemming from plastic surgery. She was taken to the hospital after she stopped breathing at her home, and preliminary reports hint that she may have had an underlying medical condition that should have prevented her from receiving the surgery at all. The procedure–reportedly a tummy tuck–was performed by Hollywood superstar and Oprah plastic surgeon of the month selection, Dr. Jan Adams.

Another Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Andre Aboolian, said that Ms. West approached him several months ago, but that he would not perform the surgery without a medical clearance. Dr. Aboolian’s objections were due to a “pre-existing condition” that he felt might cause complications, specifically a heart attack. Well, looks like the good doctor might have been right.

This sad and very tragic story brings to light a few points I’ve been trying to get across for awhile. First, plastic surgery is not without risks. I touched upon this in detail in my podcast on Anti-aging (Dr Nick Show, Episode 4) and also cover it in my upcoming book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health. Too many people are seeking the “cosmetic” option as if it were as simple as getting one’s hair done. Surgery cuts. Surgery scars. Surgery causes wounds. And here goes some Physiology 101: What happens when the body suffers a cut or a wound?–the blood clots in order to plug up the wound. What happens if a clot gets lodged into a blood vessel?–Thrombosis. What happens if that thrombosis breaks free and lodges into the lungs?–Pulmonary embolism; bye, bye. (Read my article on clots and emboli, it’ll explain things a little more.

Second, if you’re going to go forth with surgery, wouldn’t it make sense to get the best? Why would you half-ass it with some schmuck. If the first guy tells you that he won’t do it because of possible complications, and the second guys doesn’t tell you the same thing–run! Or is the new rack more important that your life? Hello!!!

I know, I know…”But he was on T.V. I saw him on Oprah: and, well, Oprah always picks such good books, so I figured the other guy was just trying to pull a fast one.” Oh wait, Dr. Adams isn’t board certified.

Here’s a tip: When one doctor says he won’t perform a procedure that’ll bring him lots of money–he’s ethical! When another one says he’ll perform a procedure that another one will not, he’s either been lied to (by the patient), he’s a maverick (not something to look for in a doctor), or he’s a money-grubbing jackass.

Here are a few other useful tips from Dr. Richard D’Amico, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, who says that the number of non-board certified plastic surgeons performing cosmetic procedures is staggering:

  • pick a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which requires a doctor to graduate from an accredited medical school, have certain plastic surgery training and pass comprehensive exams;
  • if the surgery takes place outside a hospital, pick a properly accredited or licensed facility;
  • and patients must be thoroughly evaluated to ensure they are healthy enough to get through an operation, with checks for heart issues, diabetes or a history of blood clots.

And, I’ll add a few more:

  • never, ever get a procedure done in a foreign country–especially one that’s underdeveloped–in order to save a buck;
  • stop watching (and glorifying) Dr. 90210–these clowns are not board certified.
  • definitely don’t let your teenage daughter go under the knife unless she’s been disfigured in an accident or been burned–it’s not worth the risk.

We’ve got to pull the positive out of this tragedy that has befallen the West family, anyway. If it means that the pedestalizing of cosmetic surgery finally comes to an end–then good! And if it means that a few gynecologists, family doctors, oral surgeons and other medicos go back to their regular day jobs–even better. The world will be safer place, that’s for sure.

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