The Stunning Amount Of Plastic Surgery Joan Rivers Had During Her Life

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Joan Rivers became a star as young comedian on "The Tonight Show" in the 1960s. Viewers saw her as a regular fixture on the NBC late-night show, and in 1982 she was named Johnny Carson's first-ever, permanent guest host, per IMDb. Four years later, the ever-popular Rivers scored her own talk show, "The Late Show," on Fox, thus burning a bridge with Carson forever.

Throughout her long career in show business, Rivers' looks changed dramatically. The "Fashion Police" star often joked about plastic surgery — "I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I'd look like without plastic surgery," she once quipped, per ABC 7 — and there was speculation about how many surgical procedures she actually had before her sudden death in 2014 at age 81. The Sydney Herald once reported that Rivers' first plastic surgery was thought to have been an eye lift when she was 32. If that's the case, Rivers started changing her face at the same time that she started out on Johnny Carson's chatfest in 1965, the outlet noted.

But just how many procedures did she have in her lifetime?

Joan Rivers joked that she had more than 700 plastic surgery procedures, but the real number was much lower

Joan Rivers talked openly about going under the knife. She once told NPR that she was "very lucky" to have a friend who was a plastic surgeon. "So he would do little things," she said in early 2014. "I never had like a full thing. So I would go in maybe once every two or three years, and he'd do a little here, a little there; tweak you, like you tweak your car. Then I became the plastic surgery poster girl."

Despite her claims that she never had a "full thing" done, The Sydney Herald claimed that Rivers had rhinoplasty, at least two facelifts, and countless Botox procedures during her life. The number of procedures Rivers had done was once estimated to be 734 (via TooFab), but she claimed the number was 739, per The New York Daily News. While she later said the "739" count was a joke, Rivers did admit to getting Botox injections every five to six months.

After Rivers' death, her daughter Melissa opened up in her 2015 tell-all, 'The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation," to reveal that her famous mother "didn't have as much work as people think she had" (per the Washington Post). Melissa put her mom's final surgery count at 365 — still a super high number. She also explained that her mother had also been insecure about her appearance but had finally been at peace with her looks before she died.

Joan Rivers died during an elective surgery

While Joan Rivers was a prolific plastic surgery patient, it was a surgical procedure that also caused her death. Rivers died on September 4, 2014 following an elective procedure at a clinic in New York City, according to CNN. The throat procedure was considered minor, but Rivers stopped breathing while under anesthesia, per The Hollywood Reporter. The outlet noted that in 2016, Rivers' daughter, Melissa, settled a malpractice lawsuit against the clinic where her mother died. In her suit, Rivers' daughter alleged that doctors at the clinic performed "unauthorized medical procedures" on the Emmy-winning comedian and talk show host.

Even more shocking was the revelation that the doctor who performed the procedure was caught taking a photo of Rivers while she was under anesthesia. Melissa Rivers' attorney, Jeffrey Bloom, told USA Today that the doctor used his cell phone to take "a picture of Joan on the table, while she was crashing, by the way."  Rivers, who had been under anesthesia many times for her past plastic surgery procedures, died due to "lack of oxygen to her brain" during the routine throat surgery.

Joan Rivers once compared death to plastic surgery

Joan Rivers never stopped talking about plastic surgery — it was a key part of her comedy repertoire — but in her later years, she also started to talk about death. 

In a 2010 interview with The Times of London (via The Daily Beast), Rivers revealed that she thought about death "constantly" as she approached her 80s. She also admitted she would not want to live if she couldn't perform comedy, but noted that she was not all afraid of death — mostly due to her experience with being put to sleep for her many plastic surgeries. "I don't fear it," she told the outlet of dying. "With plastic surgery the general anesthetic is like a black-velvety sleep, and that's what death is — without waking up to someone clapping and going, 'Joan, wake up, it's all over and you're looking pretty.'"

Rivers ultimately told her last joke about death the night before she went in for her fatal surgical procedure. According to ABC 7, during what would be her final performance at a Manhattan theater, Rivers told the crowd she could "go at any moment" and that the audience would have bragging rights to say, "I was there the night Joan Rivers passed."