By Sandra Kobrin
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
After Donda West's death from elective plastic surgery, Sandra Kobrin surveys a dangerous fashion-victim frontier and finds that this season you can even buy a plastic-surgery holiday gift card. She's not buying it.
Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.
(WOMENSENEWS)--I definitely have a little more jiggle than I'd like. More wrinkles, too.
But the last thing I want to do is check into a hospital for cosmetic surgery and never check out. A flat tummy or a chiseled chin is not something you risk your life for. Not in my book.
But I feel like I'm in a shrinking majority that's hanging on for dear life.
Our society is getting positively hooked on plastic surgery. Since 1997 the number of cosmetic procedures performed each year has soared by more than fivefold, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Arlington Heights, Ill.
Nearly 11 million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed in 2006, up 7 percent from the year before. Almost 10 million of the surgeries last year were performed on women. Breast augmentations (329,000) top the 2006 list of 1.9 million invasive surgical procedures. These are surgeries that require anesthesia and they are far from risk-free.
The signals urging women to maintain or reclaim their youth have become ingrained in our culture. Day spas that administer non-invasive cosmetic procedures pop up as regularly in strip malls as 7-11's and botox injections are even being administered by eye doctors.
But what's scary is that more than ever, smart, professional, successful women are undergoing expensive, complicated life-threatening cosmetic surgeries. With all they have going for them, more and more of these successful women are choosing to roll the dice with their lives in search of a flatter tummy, less wrinkles or firmer breasts.
The most recent high-profile and tragic example, of course, is Donda West, the 58-year-old mother of hip-hop music superstar Kanye West.
An accomplished educator, West was a former chair of Chicago State University's English department and a Fulbright scholar who left academia in 2004 to assist with Kanye's career. She was a wonderful role model for both her students and her son. On some level, however, that wasn't enough.
On Nov. 9 she went in for a tummy tuck and a breast reduction and was sent home that night to recuperate. The next evening, paramedics brought an unresponsive West to the Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center in Marina del Rey, where an attempt to revive her failed. After an autopsy, the Los Angeles coroner said that the initial indications were that West died from complications from the surgery.
According to CNN, West knew she was an at-risk surgical patient, but elected to do the surgery anyway. She had visited another surgeon--Dr. Andre Aboolian of Beverly Hills--in June who refused to perform the cosmetic surgery.
Aboolian said she contacted him again two weeks before her recent surgery saying she was ready to go forward, but he noted he needed a medical clearance before he would perform it.
"I always insist on