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The deadly side of cosmetic surgery

 The deadly side of cosmetic surgery (Photo: iStock)

Early this week, Lisa Marie Presley’s cause of death was revealed, and sadly, it was connected to a procedure she had undergone years before her passing. Lisa, who was the only child of the iconic rock n roll singer Elvis Presley died on January 12 at the age of 54.

“(She) died of a bowel obstruction, the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office has said. The obstruction was a result of adhesions caused by weight-loss surgery she underwent several years ago,” the BBC reports.

The report adds: “This occurs when the small intestine is blocked, sometimes as a result of colon cancer, medication or adhesions (scar tissue) that form after surgeries. Some conditions that inflame intestines can also lead to small bowel obstructions.”

“In Presley’s case, the report found that the adhesions were caused by weight-loss surgery, known as bariatric surgery, which she underwent several years ago. The medical examiner’s report noted that “this is a known long-term complication of this type of surgery.”

Closer home, the unfortunate passing of a Kenyan woman after plastic surgery went wrong made headlines in 2018. June Wanza, a mother of three reportedly died after breast enlargement surgery in a Nairobi clinic.

The Standard reported at the time: “When she complained of abdominal pain, she was rushed to a Nairobi hospital, but the pain worsened and was immediately admitted to the High Dependency Unit, then the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors discovered Wanza’s intestines had been cut or punctured during the augmentation procedure and her blood pressure was dangerously low.”

The report added: “Following her severed intestines, waste had spilt into her abdominal cavity - the cause of the acute pains. Wanza developed sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body.”

A frantic team of experienced surgeons attempted to save her life. Another local publication notes that later on, an intern admitted to performing the procedure that led to her death.

“Dr Martin Ajujo confessed to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) that he conducted the botched breast enlargement procedure that caused the death of June Wanza Mulupi on June 7, 2018.”

The report adds: “According to KMPDB, Dr Ajujo was still receiving training at the time and was not allowed to conduct any surgery without the supervision of a practising plastic surgeon. On June 5, 2018, after his supervisor, Prof Stanley Ominde Khainga ran late to the hospital, Dr Ajujo went ahead and listed himself as the operating surgeon on Mulupi’s admission papers.”

University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre lists some of the possible complications of bariatric surgery, including ulcers, bowel obstruction, hernias and malnutrition.

Cleveland Clinic lists possible complications of the procedures: “Rare complications of gastric bypass surgery include leakage through staples or sutures, ulcers in the stomach or small intestine; blood clots in the lungs or legs, stretching of the pouch or oesophagus, persistent vomiting and abdominal pain, inflammation of the gallbladder, and failure to lose weight (very rare).”

It adds; “More than one-third of obese patients who have gastric surgery develop gallstones. Gallstones are clumps of cholesterol and other matter that form in the gallbladder. During rapid or substantial weight loss, a person’s risk of developing gallstones increases.

“Gallstones can be prevented with supplemental bile salts taken for the first six months after surgery. Nearly 30 per cent of patients who have weight-loss surgery develop nutritional deficiencies such as anaemia, osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. These deficiencies can be avoided if vitamin and mineral intakes are maintained.”

In April, Christina Ashten, who was known as an Only Fans model and the lookalike of reality star Kim Kardashian, passed away as a result of cosmetic surgery complications. The social media personality died of a heart attack at the age of 34 as she was recovering from a procedure. A month later, police released the mugshot of a woman responsible for the botched procedure.

In June, there was yet another tragic loss that happened soon after a cosmetic procedure - that of Jacky Oh, a well-known American TV personality and YouTuber. Jacky was the significant other of actor and comedian DC Young Fly, and they shared three children. She was 32 years old. Multiple reports state that the cause of her death is unknown and that she was found unresponsive in a Miami hotel shortly after she underwent a “mummy makeover” surgery.

Stanford Medicine describes a mommy makeover surgery as one that entails a combination of various procedures tailored to the patient’s preferences and can include any combination of the following: tummy tuck, breast augmentation, breast lift, liposuction and vaginal rejuvenation surgery. But typically, the standard mummy makeover entails a tummy tuck and breast augmentation. 

Rapper Kanye ‘Ye’ West lost his mother, Donda West after she went under the knife for a cosmetic procedure back in 2007. A coroner said that she died of heart disease while suffering “multiple post-operative factors.”

“But an autopsy failed to determine the exact role these factors played in her death following liposuction and breast-reduction surgery,” People Magazine notes.

West was able to walk out of the clinic after five and a half hours of surgery, heavily bandaged, and prescribed Vicodin for pain, according to an autopsy report.

“She opted to return to her home for care even though she was advised that she receive post-operative care at another facility,” the report adds.

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