Thursday, March 27, 2008

Teen Dies from Breast Surgery

It was so sad to read about the 18 year old Florida cheerleader who died from complications of a breast augmentation, and my heart goes out to her family and friends. For me, when I hear of a cosmetic surgery ending in tragedy, it’s also a wake up call for patients, and I remind all my clients who are considering surgery, you’ve got to prepare for it…Any surgery is risky, but those risks can be minimized by taking certain crucial steps to safety-proof your surgery. In the case of the West Boca High School cheerleader, they suspect a rare condition triggered by anesthesia.That’s why I warn people, you’ve got to fully disclosing all medications you are taking, including over the counter drugs, herbs, vitamins or any drugs, legal or illegal—that could dangerously interact with anesthesia. We won’t know what happened until the autopsy, but if even if you are taking over the counter cold medicines, tell your surgeon—and the anesthesiologist. People don’t die from actual surgery, but from complications, and it’s as important to choose a top anesthesiologist as it is to choose your plastic surgeon. I’m not blaming, it could happen to any surgeon. It’s a tragedy for everyone,  including the board-certified cosmetic surgeon who performed the operation in a private surgery facility. Here’s what the Miami Herald wrote: “The West Boca High School cheerleader, 18, died Saturday from complications during surgery to correct asymmetrical breasts and inverted nipples, after being rushed to Delray Medical Center Friday morning.

According to her family's attorney, a rare and silent condition called malignant hyperthermia could have killed the popular teen, who was looking forward to her senior prom and heading to the University of Florida.

The condition is triggered by anesthesia. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, muscles that become rigid and a fever of 110 degrees or higher. The condition is reversible if recognized and acted upon -- usually within 30 minutes of onset -- with Dantrolene, the only known antidote, said Dr. Henry Rosenberg, president of the Malignant Hyperthermia Association, whose organization fielded a call to its hot line about Kuleba's case. “

While the autopsy results aren’t back, so we won’t know for sure exactly how she died until then. But I urge you to do your homework before surgery, and outline a number of things you can do to safety proof your operation. While I focus on liposuction in my new book, “The Little Book of Lipo” (Amazon, $19.95), it has pre-surgery tips that can apply to any cosmetic procedure. As a patient, you CAN maximize the chances for a safe, successful surgery.