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The Real Truth Behind Plastic Surgery

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What Moms can learn from the tragic death of Kanye West's mother.

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The news that Dr. West died as a result of complications of plastic surgery serves also as a harsh warning about the potential dangers for all moms contemplating cosmetic procedures. In 2006, 325,000 so-called "mommy makeovers" were performed on women ages 20 to 39, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

But is it safe? We asked Dr. Greg Wiener, a board certified plastic surgeon in Chicago, who Consumer Reports lists as a "Top Surgeon" what moms need to know if they're considering it.

Tell your doctor everything. Keeping information hidden about your medical history or medications (even over-the-counter pills) could be the difference between a successful surgery and one with complications. Giving a plastic surgeon access to your own primary care physician is also a good idea.

• Pre-operative testing. A good plastic surgeon will request blood work and possibly a cardio exam. Avoiding these tests could be putting yourself at higher risk.

• Manage your expectations. Dr. Wiener says patients who are realistic about what surgery will accomplish are happier with the results.

• Find a board certified plastic surgeon. Board certified doctors have extensive training in general surgery as well as plastic surgery and understand the physiological changes a body goes through during a procedure and can foresee potential complications, Dr. Wiener says. "The plastic surgeon who performed Mrs. West's procedure was not board certified," says Dr. Wiener. "That is a key point."

• Talk to your primary care physician. "Ask if you're at higher risk of complications than the general population," advises Dr. Wiener. It's important for your doctor to weigh in about this.

• Don't combine too many surgeries at once. "The longer you're under anesthesia," Dr. Wiener says, "the higher the risk for complications like infection or pulmonary embolism." Donda West was reportedly in surgery for eight hours. Dr. Wiener says he keeps his surgeries under
six hours to avoid potential complications.

next: Seriously, Don't Pick Your Nose
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