About 4 years ago, a young gentleman walked into my office for a liposuction consultation. I did my routine evaluation, asking him about his health, past medical history, medications he may be taking, drug allergies, previous surgeries, etc. After I performed my clinical examination and made my recommendation, he said: “Doctor, to be honest with you, I saw another surgeon before you. He was referred to me by a friend. He walked into the room, quickly looked at me and said I am a good candidate for liposuction and Cindy will see me now to schedule the surgery. He then left the room.”
Wow! Prior to January 1, 2010, operating on a patient for aesthetic reasons without a physical exam was considered below the standard of care. Now, at least in California, it is also breaking the law.
The so called “Donda West Law” dictates any patient undergoing cosmetic surgery must have a physical examination and be cleared for surgery by a physician. Will this law significantly change the way any responsible and safe surgeon practices? No, since this protocol was already being followed.
Donda West, as many of you may know, was Kanye West’s mother. She passed away the next day from complications related to her cosmetic surgery. Donda had multiple medical issues, and was previously rejected by another plastic surgeon unless her medical condition was addressed by an internist. She was operated by another plastic surgeon, who was not board certified, without a medical clearance. The autopsy report suggested the cause of death as a combination of pre-existing medical issues combined with prolonged surgery time.
So please remember: If a surgeon decides to operate on you, without any history or physical exam, he/she is breaking the law! If you have medical issues, they must be addressed and controlled prior to your surgery.
This article is not meant to scare you. A recent study found the risk of death from outpatient elective surgery to be 1:50,000. The risk of dying while driving is 1:5,000. This means you have a 10 times more chance of dying from driving than from routine elective surgery!
Michael A. Jazayeri, M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 10 years of experience. His office is located in Orange County, California. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call 714-834-0101.