Tragic quest for beauty

Sometimes all one wants is the perfect derriere, washboard stomach and a perfect physique. But the session on the surgeon’s table may have a fatal ending

 This rising need to conform to beauty standards and clamour for perfection, opens the door for “quacks” to operate among the professionals, sometimes undetected until it’s too late. Here are some cases of cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures gone terribly wrong:

1.      Botched breast enlargement

June Wanza underwent what seemed like a successful breast enlargement procedure at a private clinic in Kilimani, Nairobi. But on June 6, 2018 she was rushed to Nairobi Hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain. It was discovered that her intestines had been severed likely from the incisions made during her breast enlargement surgery and waste had spilled into her abdominal cavity, causing a fatal infection of the soft tissues. Due to the severity of her condition, she was admitted to Intensive care unit immediately but doctors were unable to save her life. She died the next day.

SEE ALSO :Why we need more plastic surgeons in Kenya

2. Botched liposuction

Stella Obasanjo, the former first lady of Nigeria, had elective liposuction at the exclusive Molding Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in the upmarket town of Puerto Banos in Spain.  She experienced severe complications from the procedure and died in 2005, aged 59. It was later revealed that the operating physician had misplaced a tube designed for a liposuction procedure in Mrs. Obasanjo's abdominal cavity, causing a punctured colon and lacerated liver. The surgeon was found negligent and sentenced to one year of imprisonment in September 2009. He was additionally disqualified from medicine for a period of three years and ordered to pay approximately Sh17. 6 M in compensation to Stella Obasanjo's son.

3. Botched tummy tuck

Just as Kris Jenner is to Kim Kardashian, Donda West, Kanye West’s mum, was also his full time manager. Ms West had liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast reduction just one day before she died. Reports indicated that after over 5 hours of surgery, she was still able to walk out of the clinic, having opted to return to her home for care even though she was advised to receive post-operative care at another facility. The day after her surgeries Ms West was reported to have experienced a sore throat, pain and tightening in her chest, before collapsing in the early evening. She was rushed the hospital, but was pronounced dead in the emergency room on November 10, 2007. Autopsy reports factored in both vomiting and medication as contributing factors in Donda's death but final manner of death could not be determined. There was no evidence of a surgical or anaesthetic misfortune.

4. Botched hips and butt injections

31-year-old Shatarka Nuby wanted a bigger butt, and over the course of three years, from 2007 to 2011, Ms Nuby attended a Florida clinic where an unlicensed and unaccredited practitioner named O’Neal Ron Morris injected her over 10 times with a mixture of cement, mineral oil, bathroom caulking, and tire sealant. In 2011, Nuby wrote to the Florida Department of Health, stating that her buttocks had hardened and turned black. She died in March 2012 due to respiratory failure from “massive systemic silicone migration” from her hips and buttocks. Morris was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

5. Botched chin tuck

In 2004, Olivia Goldsmith, the famous author of the novel First Wives Club went in for a chin tuck in a New York clinic. Things went awry and Goldsmith's breathing became dangerously slow while under anesthesia. The physicians didn't notice in time because the life-sign monitors were not working at full capacity and alarms were not audible. She then suffered a fatal heart attack and died at age 54. New York State Health Department found that her doctors had failed to complete a thorough pre- surgery work up. Goldsmith reportedly had been taking mood stabilisers and homeopathic supplements, both of which could negatively interact with anesthesia and depress breathing. 

6. Botched butt injections

Ms. Wykesha Reid was a 34-year-old nursing home staffer in Dallas who opted for black-market buttocks injections — which are much cheaper and riskier than plastic surgery — to get her body closer to pop-culture idols such as Kim Kardashian. Reid went to the Deep Ellum salon operated by Ross and Clarke, a mother and son team, three times for the injections with no problems. The pair had been running a well-known illegal butt-enhancement operation at the Deep Ellum location for at least three years before Reid’s death. Ross and Clarke used hydrogel injections sealed with Super Glue, which they sold in $300 or $500 dosages in 15- to 45-minute sessions. On February 18, 2015, Ms Reid reportedly returned to the salon for a fourth visit but never went back home. Police found her body inside the business the next morning. The building had been cleaned out and her purse and cell phone were missing.

7. Botched butt lift

In December 2017, Kizzy London, a mother of two from Baton Rouge, Louisiana died after fat clots clogged the arteries of her heart and lungs. The medical examiner reported that the fat clots likely travelled to London’s heart and lungs after entering her body through a vein deep in her buttocks as she was undergoing a procedure known as the Brazilian butt lift. London’s surgery was performed by Dr. Arnaldo Valls, a family doctor who was not board certified in any specialty at the time. The doctor issued a written statement following London’s death in which he said London’s heart stopped beating toward the end of the surgery, and that the clinic’s medical staff tried to resuscitate her before calling 911. She was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Centre, where she was pronounced dead.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board website offers public access to a list of registered doctors and their qualifications. Check for the name of your doctor before embarking on the procedure.

Risks associated with cosmetic surgery

·         Bleeding

·         Infection (at the site of operation which can sometimes spread to the rest of the body)

·         Asymmetry –where certain parts of the body operated on may not look identical once they have healed after surgery

·         Nerve damage –often temporary and ranging from tingling, numbness to loss of function of certain body parts. However, some women experience permanent loss of sensation in their nipples after breast surgery.

·         Fluid collection- common after a tummy tuck,

·         Serious scarring

·         Anaesthesia complications

·         Post-surgical blood clots

·         Post-surgical depression


Potential patients should be screened for:

1.    High blood pressure

2.    Diabetes

3.    Asthma

4.    Any other medical condition that needs to be cleared for general anesthesia.

Some necessary tests include

1.    Haemoglobin blood count

2.     White cell count

3.    Coagulation panel

4.    This is  check for the possibilities of bleeding,

5.    A pregnancy test.

6.    Over 45 patients need to be assessed for cardiac risk

Do you want a breast enhancement or breast reconstruction surgery?

1.    If over 35, you should get a mammogram

2.    If under 35, ultrasounds

3.    This is usually crucial if there is a strong family history of breast cancer

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