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by Lois W. Stern

One serious misperceptions surrounding cosmetic surgery is the notion that because the word cosmetic is part of its title, it is less than real surgery, and need not be taken as seriously. Certainly, cosmetic surgery is not the same as surgery to repair a damaged heart or kidney, but it is still surgery, and like any elective procedure, should not be undertaken lightly. As you know from the 15 Questions You Need to Ask (June, 2008), there are a number of medical conditions that might complicate your surgical outcome, so if you have one of them, you need to tread cautiously.  

What to do: Seek consultations with at least two well-qualified physicians. If they are giving you similar words of caution about decided risks to your health, don't shop around for a surgeon willing to take those risks because you are likely to find one! If you recall, this is exactly what Donda West did (mother of rapper Kanye West), and it cost her her life.  

Now let's talk about the most serious misperception of all: the risk to your life. First let me assure you that if you are healthy and work with a well-qualified surgeon, cosmetic surgery rarely places your life at risk. Realistically, you already know that every activity we undertake portends some degree of risk, but the risk to your life from cosmetic surgery is very small, so small that when such a death occurs, it makes big headlines.  

So let's look at the facts. I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Gerald Keyes, lead investigator for a study evaluating the safety of office surgical facilities, later reported in the peer reviewed journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. During the time of this study, they found that only one death occurred in just under 59,000 cosmetic surgical procedures performed in accredited surgical facilities, a statistic comparable to the overall risk for hospital-based surgeries. (Although no statistics exist for surgeries performed in non-accredited surgical facilities, such statistics undoubtedly would present a different, more disturbing picture.)

You can see that it is rare for someone to actually die while undergoing cosmetic surgery in a hospital or accredited surgical facility, but very occasionally a death does occur. To put these cosmetic surgery statistics in better perspective, consider the following facts:

Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate that one female highway fatality occurred for every 12,200 women between the ages of twenty-one and sixty-four, the gender and age range within which most cosmetic surgeries occur. This is nearly five times the number of deaths that occurred as a result of cosmetic surgeries performed in accredited facilities by board certified plastic surgeons.

But highway deaths are relatively commonplace and don't raise the same eyebrows as deaths reported about those seeking beauty.

What this tell us: If you are in good health, have selected a qualified, experienced board certified surgeon, have scheduled your surgery at an accredited facility and have followed all your surgeon's instructions carefully; you life is far safer in his operating room than on the roads or highways.  

Have a safe and beautiful life.

Lois W. Stern

Interested in learning more about cosmetic surgery? Lois publishes a FREE monthly Health and Beauty e-Newsletter. For more info. visit: [Link Removed] Patty and I enjoy hearing from our readers and will actually respond!

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