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Loss of a Pop Icon

Dr Vivian Oputa

Michael Jackson has died. The news came as a shock. I was one of his biggest fans. I still cannot believe the King of Pop is gone. A man who constantly stated he was robbed of his childhood the price he paid for mega stardom. What happened to the cute button nosed kid from Gary, Indiana?

popI find that more remarkable than Michael Jackson’s transformation from a singing and dancing whiz kid to the world’s most popular entertainer was his metamorphosis from a dark-skinned, Afro-haired, broad-nosed cute adolescent to a white-skinned, straight-haired, slender up-turned nosed, chiseled faced man. Of all the changes, the transformation of his nose has been a topic of discussion and bewilderment amongst almost everyone from fans to members of the medical community. It had been rumoured that multiple cosmetic or plastic surgeries were responsible for the eventual pointed collapsed appearance of his nose.

Comments of some plastic surgeons that had seen photographs of his nose at its worst are as follows.

“What he has done is gone from a Negroid or black nose, which is round broad and flat, to a Caucasian nose that is narrow and projecting. To achieve that cartilage, silicone or bone must be placed in the nose like a tent stake to make the nose stick out but when this is overdone, the supportive material peeks through.”

“In his zeal to have this sharply defined nose, he’s had so many things done that the tissue is no longer able to withstand it. The skin is so thin from repeated operations that the bone, cartilage or silicone implant is pushing through.”

He clearly had some sort of nasal tip disaster. He is also thought to have had eye surgery, implants in his jaw and chin areas and tattooed-on eyebrows, eyeliner and lip colour. He is also thought to have had depigmentation treatments for a skin condition known as Vitiligo.

Vitiligo is a medical condition in which the skin loses the pigment responsible for its colour known as Melanin. This pigment determines the colour of the skin, hair and eyes. People of all races are born with approximately the same number of pigment producing cells. When the melanin producing cells die or no longer produce pigment, slowly growing irregularly shaped white patches of skin become visible. These patches start small and spread to become larger patches.

The change in appearance caused by vitiligo can affect the individual emotionally and psychologically and this may lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame or worry.
There is no cure for Vitiligo and treatment is aimed at stopping or slowing down the progression of depigmentation and to attempt to return some colour to the affected skin.
A treatment procedure known as Depigmentation describes a process where all the normally pigmented skin on the body is lightened to match the white patches. This may be the best treatment option if upwards of 50% of the skin is affected. Monobenzone (Benoquin) is applied twice a day to the pigmented skin until it matches the depigmented areas. Depigmentation is permanent and cannot be reversed and it causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight. In effect the individual is technically Albino.

It is unfortunate that drawing the line with some patients requesting plastic surgery is difficult. When the person is famous, powerful and wants things his way there are more than enough plastic surgeons out there who would feel special if such a patient came to them. As a result they would always find someone willing to operate on them.
On June 25th 2009 Michael Jackson died in Los Angeles after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 50 years old. He has been a topic of discussion because of the numerous plastic surgeries he has had. Reports say that when the paramedics arrived at his home, there were prescription bottles scattered everywhere. It is very likely that as a result of his many, many plastic surgeries he acquired a taste for painkillers, which when taken excessively, can lead to death. It is also thought that he suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder and received no help for it.

He kept having plastic surgery, instead of healing his mind. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychiatric disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by an imagined or minor defect in their physical features. The sufferer may complain of several specific features or a single feature,or a vague feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs occupational and/or social functioning, sometimes to the point of complete social isolation. It is estimated that 1–2% of the world’s population meet all the diagnostic criteria for BDD.

The Living Legend may be gone but his spirit lives on.
May his soul rest in peace.

Q: Dear Dr. Vivian, I have millions of blackheads on my nose, chin and around my lips. How do I get rid of them?
Hajara from Kaduna

A: Blackheads are formed when dirt, oil and makeup get trapped in the pores especially the enlarged ones. Not much can be done to reduce pore size but a lot can be done to keep them debris free. Steaming your face (or applying a warm towel) for 10 minutes once a week helps open pores and loosen the grime that blocks them.
Exfoliation is very important and can be achieved by the use of a gentle scrub or clarifying lotion containing glycolic or salicylic acid. Make sure you perform your 3-step skincare routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing twice a day. Try to resist squeezing aggressively as you can rupture capillaries which then become visible. It’s a good idea to have a professional facial treatment at least once a month.


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