Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fatal vanity

The tragic consequences of unnecessary plastic surgery have been shown yet again with the death of a 33 year old Dublin man who was afraid his wife would leave him for a better-looking man.

After extensive cosmetic surgery in Colombia, which his 23 year old wife begged him not to have, he died of a heart attack. She said she had lost “the most beautiful thing” in her life, and had been left to look after a new baby.

But Pierre Lawlor was convinced he was "fat and ugly and had big ears" and was terrified his young Venezuelan wife Andrea would leave him for one of his friends. So he arranged for liposuction plus work on his eyes, cheekbones, nose and neck.

The surgery proved disastrous and the Dublin coroner concluded that the physical strain of the lengthy procedures had led to a cardiac arrest.

Andrea had told him he was "foolish" to get the surgery. "I didn't think he needed it," she said. "He was paranoid all the time about his looks and getting old and what people would think when they see us together."

The huge risks of plastic surgery, even for fit and healthy people, are constantly trivialised but are very real. It’s crazy to embark on it if it’s purely for reasons of vanity and insecurity.

Even if he thought he was not too attractive and was maybe disappointing his wife, he should have accepted the risk of her going off with someone else rather than having himself ‘improved’. Who knows, she might not have liked the so-called ‘improvements’ anyway. We all know how false and unnatural such surgery can make people look.

It seems he had the same problem of distorted body image that many women have. He was convinced he was ugly even though his wife denied it, and he just refused to listen to her. What he really needed wasn’t surgery but some serious counselling on his abnormal view of himself.


  1. This is really sad. And to me, someone who has occasionally considered surgery, even sadder because the man did have a wife, who said that she loved him and did not want him to have the surgery. Totally needless.

  2. South America has a disproportionate percentage of the worlds total cosmetic surgery procedures. Argentina and Brazil in particular have an alarmingly high rate of procedures (lipo, nose jobs, boob jobs etc)

    There are so many mature women with 'Body like Baywatch, face like Crimewatch' features - it's obvious they have been under the knife!

    I'm no oil painting and my gut grows by the day but I would hate to feel the intense pressure of needing to get surgery so you can fit into that size 2 as obviously many of these people do.

  3. Goodbye - That's the really poignant aspect, that his wife tried desperately to dissuade him but in vain.

    Quicky - Baywatch and Crimewatch, I love it! And he didn't even have the size 2 pressure, he just convinced himself he was ugly and undesirable.

  4. I just don't understand how people could endure the pain and take the serious risks of undergoing plastic surgery. The results aren't exactly guaranteed, just look at Joan Rivers and the previously beautiful Teri Hatcher. And they weren't discount-shopping for surgeons. It's terribly sad. It's becoming such a widespread cultural phenomenon even among under-agers - apparently Britney Spears had a breast augmentation before she turned 18 and she's not by any means an isolated case.

  5. This stuff makes my flesh crawl, Nick. Such an awful risk and an awful waste. A friend of mine suffered a stroke on the operating table and is incapacitated 12 years later.
    People are so concerned with the 'outer' and not enough with the 'inner'.
    I can only say he must have been very shallow: he had a lovely young wife and was terrified of losing her. It begs the question: Did he base his relationship solely on physical appearance?

  6. Caro - Very true, the results aren't at all predictable and people can end up looking very strange when they could have stayed their ageing but natural-looking self.

    www - That's terrible about your friend's stroke. But disasters like that are more common than people realise. As you say the inner self is often lost sight of in pursuit of the perfect image.

  7. So sad. So many people with so little sense of their own personal worth. So many people who compare themselves to Posh, Becks. Tom Criuse, Nicole Kidman whoever. I once knew a midget cripple who had a gorgeous girlfriend half his age. I was almost jealous of him! (She was a babe) and wondered how he did it. Compatible personalities maybe. Your man's wife must be distraught.

  8. What a horribly sad story. How do you explain to your child that they don't have a parent because of vanity? I wonder what sorts of dynamics they had going on in their relationship that he was deaf to the reassurances of his wife. It's so easy to fall into the "I need a little work" mentality though. Gosh, I was having a moment this morning where I was looking at my stomach and bemoaning the effects of two kids. But I'd rather have stretch marks and a pooch than never see my kids again because of wanting to look better. :(

  9. TH - That's it, people compare themselves unfavourably to all these much-publicised celebs, but the celebs themselves often have crumbling love lives.

    Liz - Exactly, how do you explain to your kid that daddy or mummy has died or become ill because they wanted to look like some twenty-year-old icon?

  10. Phew! Nick, you might have just saved my life with your post. I was going under knife to get my sense of humour surgically removed tomorrow morning. After reading your post I cancelled the operation immediately. My amazingly funny comments will continue... :p

    PS: I only deleted the previous comment because I forgot to include the word "surgical" in the comment.

  11. Gayé - Yes, a sense of humour can make a woman so unattractive, don't you think? They shouldn't be laughing, they should be doing the dishes. A good job plastic surgeons can't deal with that yet....

  12. Great post Nick. It is very sad that so many people go for the operating table rather than eating properly and getting down the gym.
    I have rarely if ever seen a transformation from ugly to beautiful on any of those 'Extreme Makeover' type programs. Sure there is an improvement in their looks but not enough to justify all the pain and the risks involved.

  13. Aidan, you're right, people seldom look better after surgery. Either they look much the same or they look noticeably 'altered'. It's hardly worth the thousands of pounds they fork out.

  14. the last sad case of cosmetic surgery in my opinion is the case of Kylie Minoque. Geebus, she is turning into that cosmetic surgery monster woman, I can see the resemblance already by the ends of the eyebrows and eyes being pulled up towards the temples. Eeewwww.
    It is so sad. I'd rather grow old gracefully (even with an odd sense of humour) and have saggy bits, eyelids and neck and all. The crows feet are great, they show how much you like to laugh to the whole world (or squint I guess, buy a pair of sunglasses).

  15. Gayé - Must say I hadn't noticed any sign of Kylie being 'updated'. Though I certainly noticed that tantalising dress! I do agree, why not grow old gracefully? I'm always attracted to lines, wrinkles and crow's feet because they suggest someone with experience, wisdom and compassion. Like Vanessa Redgrave or Helen Mirren.

  16. A terribly sad story.

    Liposuction is no substitute for eating healthily and exercising, and a good therapist would have been a better idea than dying under the knife. If his wife hadn't liked the way he looked, she wouldn't have married him.

    I would rather look old than deformed.

  17. Heart - Indeed, if she thought he was ugly, she wouldn't have married him. But he saw physical defects that simply didn't exist in reality.

  18. The surgeons involved had no ethics whatsoever and should have known the risk. They deserve a horsewhipping.

  19. Medbh - Very true. I don't understand how plastic surgeons can happily carry out such hazardous procedures, knowing full well they're totally unnecessary. I suppose it's the usual answer: money.