Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vultures circling over Kanye West's mother's death after surgery

The tabloids are in overdrive digging up dirt on the surgeon who performed Kanye Wests' mother's surgery. The surgeon in question was kind of a minor media figure, having hosted some TV shows on plastic surgery. In an instant, this doctor's career has been reduced to "the guy who killed Kanye's mom" which is kind of sad.

Still to be determined is what exactly was the cause of death?

The implication being circulated is that she should not have been done as an outpatient surgery. That's a judgment call, but it's one that has to take into consideration her age, medical comorbidities, type of proposed surgery, and length of surgery. Her surgery was apparently almost 8 hours long, which while longer then you like, is certainly not outside the vague notion of "standard of care". Publicized cases like this tend to lead to reactionary measures, and I would not be surprised with some fallout in California as to how office surgery is regulated.

A woman her age (almost 60) who dies shortly after this kind of surgery would make me think of a few things

  1. Did she have a post-operative heart attack( MI)?

  2. Did she have hypovolemic shock from intra-operative or post-operative bleeding?

  3. Could she have had toxicity from lidocaine (a local anesthetic) used in high volume liposuction?

  4. Did she get nauseated, throw up, and subsequently go into respiratory arrest from aspiration?

There's a couple of less likely things that can happen, but they usually don't present quite like Mrs. West's case. Those would be pulmonary embolism (a blood clot which migrates to the lungs & usually happens a few days later), bowel perforation (usually has a more gradual onset of sepsis), and acute necrotizing infections (usually from Streptococcal group A or B bacteria).

Post operative deaths are rare, but tragic. They reportedly occur in only one of 51,459 cosmetic procedures, according to the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. It's been suggested that number may actually slightly under-represent the problem as not all deaths get reported accurately. For example, a study a few years ago by some dermatologists claiming no deaths from high volume office-based liposuction cases performed by dermatologists flew in the face of numerous anecdotal reports by General & Plastic Surgeons having to deal with major complications which showed up in the hospital from some of these same dermatologists.


ANA said...

My general stance is to wait and see, though there's certainly much to be desired in his personal life. It does bother me immensely that an internist would perform two procedures on a high-risk patient. My understanding from the consults are that I have to get a thorough physical though I'm in my 20s and healthy.

T. Fiala, MD said...

Even a bona-fide pre-operative medical clearance would probably not have made a difference if the cause of death was from PE, lidocaine toxicity or hypovolemia.

Sincerest best wishes to the family and all involved during this difficult time.

Dr. Rob Oliver said...


I agree 100% which is why I'm not rushing to judgement here. Sometimes there is little or no true warning on patients who will have problems post-operatively.

Fair or not, this doctor is going to be taking some heat for an 8 hour outpatient surgery on a 60 year old.

Anonymous said...

I too lost my mother and best friend this year my heart goes out to the brother Kayne. I have read almost every single bit of news regarding the passing of this lovely woman. And I have even had the priviledge of reading so of the ignorant comments that people have had to say about this remarkable young man and his mother. Unforunately the internet has given cowards a forum to spew thier venom, do not pay them any mind because god knows all. Hold your head Kayne and continue to be the man that your mother raised you to be. You gave your mother her flowers while she lived. Much love and god bless

Dr. Tony Youn said...

I find the last anon's statement interesting and agree with it. Message boards are very easy ways for hate-spewing cowards to leave their mark. It's very easy to write something mean or nasty, atribute it to anonymous, and press the 'enter' button. I often erase messages on my blog because of this.

DrDiSaia said...


I have been posting on this one as well. There is the issue of the other surgeon (a BC Plastic Surgeon) who believed that she should not be done without medical clearance. We are not even sure of exactly what her surgery was. I have heard breast reduction, tummy tuck plus or minus liposuction. I am conservative in keeping patients with large surgery overnight for sequentials. I am also a believer in staging large cases. This is debatable of course.

The details of this one may take time to come forth.

Mike said...

So that I'm not one of those "hate-spewing cowards," I'll tell from the get-go, that my name is Mike and that I write copy for the web sites of plastic surgeons across the country (45 plastic surgeons in the last year, over 1,000 pages of content). Right now, I'm working with a doctor performing plastic surgery in Torrance. Okay, with that out of the way... when this story broke, rather than researching the history of the doctor, I decided to use what I know about writing sites, and research his web site. Here's what I found:
* typos
* inconsistencies
* the word "humorous" to describe some of the clips in the video section of his site (in over 1,000 pages of elective health care copy, i've never used the word "humorous" to describe anything)
* hyperbole
* the recommendation that a board certified plastic surgeon should administer your BOTOX Cosmetic injection
Then, I found just plain weird things, like his tag: home to the original Dr. Jan Adams??? Is there an imposter out there?
If a doctor, especially a ps, isn't concerned with his own image (his web presence), what make you think he will care much about your image? Look for the little things, people.