At our office, we want patients to embrace the positive aspects of their aesthetic refinements and the improved quality of life after successful plastic surgery. Most important, however, we want our patients to be safe. Too often patients are transferred into our emergency room from other physician’s surgery centers and offices with avoidable emergencies (excessive bleeding, bowel injuries, collapsed lungs, heart attacks, heart irregular beats, etc). Many of these patients require emergency surgical interventions by surgeons other than their own operating plastic surgeon.
Not long ago, unfortunately, we lost a great ambassador for plastic surgery – Joan Rivers. She was never shy about her plastic surgery and has said: “I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die, they will donate my body to Tupperware” and “My face has been tucked in more times than a bed sheet at the Holiday Inn”. Joan Rivers underwent two procedures at an outpatient endoscopy center in Manhattan to determine a cause for her “hoarseness”. The second procedure was an unplanned biopsy of her vocal cords. But her procedure was performed in a facility poorly equipped to handle an airway complication frequently associated with vocal cord biopsy. A post-mortem report states that the medical personnel in charge of the patient failed to identify deteriorating vital signs and failed to provide timely intervention during her procedure. The poorly trained staff at the endoscopy facility could not help her and by the time professionally trained EMT staff arrived, it was too late. Joan Rivers succumbed to a complication of anesthesia and died because she had surgery at a facility that was not equipped with the necessary life saving equipment and a well-trained staff.
Ms River’s unfortunate death could have been avoided if she listened to her own advice. Multiple times in her cosmetic surgery advice book entitled “Men are Stupid…and They Like Big Boobs” she warns of the possible complication of death while undergoing plastic surgery and how to avoid it:
- “Make sure the facility is equipped with all the necessary life saving apparatus.”
- “The risk is all but nil…since you will be operated on in an accredited facility by a board-certified plastic surgeon with a board-certified anesthesiologist.”
- “If you use a board-certified doctor and have the procedure done in an accredited facility, your chances of dying are slim to none.”
We do everything to keep you safe before, during, and after your procedure. If your medical history is significant, you will be evaluated days before your surgery by the anesthesia team so “tune ups” may be done. Some patients are turned down for surgery because their risks are deemed too great. Your procedure will be performed in a Level One Trauma Center (Mercy-St Louis) where unexpected complications can be treated by the appropriate physician with advanced life-saving equipment. Your post-operative care may be monitored in an overnight unit within the hospital just a few feet from appropriately equipped and 24 hour staffed operating rooms.
You will be well cared for by our qualified staff. Your safety is always our major concern.
Thomas J. Francel, M.D.