Everyone is Altered: Why Nigerian Ladies Risk Everything for Breast, Butt Surgeries

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GLITZ Focus

The craze for boob jobs, butts enlargement, tummy tuck and other vanity magic is understandable. In a world of high-definition everything, the pressure is on for everyone to always look their best. This has given rise to a relentless drive for perfection, and the trend is now trickling down to every Tom, Dick and Harry who feels left behind and challenged by the images they see on Instagram no matter how fake they are. But this also comes at a price, writes Lanre Alfred.

Forget what you see on Instagram. Ignore the images projected on the screen and other social media platforms. Everyone is altered. Many a Nigerian lady now wants to have an artificial derriere that would make even a eunuch do the sign of the cross repeatedly, swallow spittle rapidly and feel a stirring in his loins, all in quick succession. As photoshop is to magazine photography, so has a compelling blend of plastic surgery, muscle-sculpting, implants, hair restoration, dental work and other dermatological tweaking been to celebrity images. But this has not always been the case.

In years gone by, the high society always cautiously guarded its vanity magic tricks. Plastic surgery, botox and diet pills were the high society’s pretty little secrets. Even in the entertainment industry, the latest glamour obsession, otherwise labelled as ‘beauty work,’ has stayed underground for more than a decade before now accepted as the norm. These days, big bums and ‘belfies’ are huge business, and celebrities with extra-large derrieres drive the trend forward.

Some months back, controversy-prone social media influencer cum nite club manager, Pretty Mike, weighed in on the trend.
In a two-part Instagram post, he wrote, “It’s no news that our ladies who aren’t comfortable with their bodies or parts have regained their confidence through plastic surgery from a breast lift to liposuction of the arm, abdomen and fat transfer to the butt known as the BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift). So, don’t think that your neighbour or ex-girlfriend (that) you haven’t seen in a while just added weight in the right areas; she’s definitely gone under the knife.

“We also have centres in Lagos where they do these surgeries. The most common which is Grandville Medlaser in VGC (Victoria Garden City, Lagos), he became more popular when he did the free surgery for ladies who had over 11k followers and didn’t mind posting their procedures showing their faces.”
He went on to mention social media handles of some ladies who had their bodies worked on, stating further that with N800,000 to N2 million, “you can get a banging body in Lagos, just get ready not to sit for at least three weeks (you don’t want the fat pumped in getting f..ked up).”

He lamented it is now hard to differentiate between real and fake derriere, “as Lagos has been littered with big bum bums and I can strongly say, I’m a big fan and I love the movement.”
In the second post, he mentioned names such as Oge Okoye, Caroline Danjuma, Princess Shyngle, Chika Ike, Dabota Lawson, Precious Thelma and Kika Goodhair as some of the ladies who are comfortable talking openly about the procedures.
Tonto Dike not only affirmed that she did a surgery, posting, “Where are the aprokos that said surgery is not good ooo? May my old body be your portion, rolling eyes…If I slap you, your eyes will shift.” She captioned a post showing before and after surgery pictures of herself; she also celebrated the doctor who did it thanking him for her bum and hips.

Her Nollywood colleague, Yvonne Jegede, declared emphatically in an interview, “Yes, I did surgery (liposuction) on my stomach after I had my son, so that made me look curvier. I had the surgery here in Nigeria. I don’t have issues with anyone on earth; I do whatever I want with myself and body.”

On-air-personality, Toke Makinwa, makes no pretence about her obsession with looking perfect, which has left many wondering how she juggles her much-vaunted spirituality with her in-your-face type of vanity. Done with completely altering her complexion from dark to very fair, Toke has since graduated to butt enhancement. She flaunts her new bum with reckless abandon. She stated in 2018, “This year, I stopped complaining and changed things. I hated my body. I fixed it (best decision ever). I hated hanging around certain people who made me feel small; I dropped them, learned to forgive (I still struggle but it’s a journey), and learned to be at peace… This year I experienced a dangerous level of freedom. I literally have no fucks to give, no explanation as to how I choose to live my life. I woke up one day and started living for me.”
So obsessed with her new curvy identity was Toke that when legendary actor Richard Mofe-Damijo stated that plastic surgery could never make one happy because “most of the things we do to show others we are beautiful, made, tough and/or connected are things that magnify our insecurities,” she went ballistic, questioning RMD’s audacity to tell an adult what to do with their body.

The openness with which she talks about it and eagerness to defend plastic surgery underscores the fact that society has come a long way on its views toward cosmetic surgery. Once a tightly guarded secret among the rich and famous, elective plastic surgery has become so mainstream and almost affordable that it’s easier to count the number of people who haven’t gotten a little work done.’ While insecurity and a warped sense of belonging are immediate causes experts say lead to a reconstruction of their body, other factors include the urge to be more attractive or more appealing to men who are believed to fall over themselves at the sight of a well-shaped butt.
The rush for a new body – breast implants, tummy tuck, Brazilian butt lift – has some downsides. Women who cannot afford professional treatments have resorted to deadly and illegal injections with substances found in home-improvement stores. Those who survive are left with debilitating scars and lingering health issues.

In a 2019 interview, Dr. Biodun Ogungbo, a neurological surgeon with a private hospital in Abuja, warned Nigerians to avoid unsafe plastic surgery.
“Recently, there has been a rash of complications following plastic surgery in Abuja. Many patients going to have liposuction or indeed fat transfers to have a bigger butt have ended up with massive infections and even a stroke in one case,” he said.

Several women who went to Med-Contour Hospital and Laser Centre run by Dr. Anu Adepoju for cosmetic surgery complained about suffering from post-surgery complications. A popular social media personality, Omotola Taiwo Temilade, known as Omohtee, called Dr. Adepoju out following a botched surgery that left her with complications. Some of the victims had reportedly approached some government regulatory agencies like the Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), the Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) and the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC). While the HEFAMAA in 2019 was forced to seal Dr. Adepoju’s facility in 2019, she, in defiance of the agency, opened in another location in the same vicinity under the name Med-Contour Aesthetics and continued her operations.

Then, when one of her patients Nneka Onwuzuligbo) died at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, following a botched cosmetic surgery, the management petitioned the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Investigation Panel to investigate Dr. Adepoju. The LUTH management accused her of professional misconduct following the patient’s death, who developed complications after cosmetic surgery.

In a petition dated June 11, 2020, and signed by LUTH’s Director of Legal Services, O. O. Olajide, the hospital she continued to perform surgeries even though her facility was sealed off by the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency. LUTH alleged that Dr. Adepoju referred Nneka to LUTH on January 3, 2019, on the pretext that she was referred from the General Hospital, Odan, Lagos Island, and was brought to her hospital with severe respiratory distress and septicaemia with infected surgical wounds.

The affidavit noted, “The patient was well until she developed a sudden onset of breathlessness within 24 hours after the said surgical procedure. The breathlessness was progressive and necessitated her being taken immediately to the General Hospital, Odan, from the theatre. There was no reference in the referral note from the General Hospital, Odan, about the details of the type of tumescent fluid that was administered; neither was the volume and the type of anaesthetic used provided.

“The breathlessness was said to be progressive. During the said two days, the patient received oxygen and intravenous fluids at Med Contour Hospital. The patient was referred to (LUTH) without an informative referral letter. The accompanying note from the General Hospital, Odan, stated that the patient developed orthopnoea 16 hours after the surgical procedure. The informative referral letter from Dr Adepoju, who performed the surgery, was provided on the fourth day of presentation at LUTH upon my insistence and persistent request. The said referral letter dated, January 7, 2019, is attached herewith and marked as ‘Exhibit A.’

The petition added, “She was noted to have significant deterioration of the vital signs before referral to LUTH for intensive care management on account of progressively worsening symptoms. Details of the surgical intervention subsequently received from Dr Adepoju (Exhibit A) showed that she had liposuction of the anterior abdomen, back, flanks, and arms with fat transfer to the buttocks and hips. The surgery was done under spinal anaesthesia. The tumescent technique was used where three litres of fluid were infused into the patient and five litres of fluid were aspirated. She had two pints of blood transfused before presentation on account of anaemia.

“The account given about the patient further had it that there was no previous history of similar presentation in past surgery of myomectomy done three years before the liposuction and fat grafting. It was revealed that on the second day after the surgery, she was noticed to have persistent foul-smelling discharge from all the surgical sites.”

The hospital added that upon admission into LUTH, the first surgical debridement performed on the deceased on January 10, 2019, revealed extensive sloughing, with foul-smelling discharge from Nneka’s debrided hips and purulent discharges from puncture wounds on the anterior abdominal wall. It added that after the surgery, there was no improvement in the patient’s clinical state, hence, the need to perform a second surgery on her and that after the second surgery, the clinical state of the victim improved till the 28th day of admission when her vital signs deteriorated.

The LUTH petition posited that the victim developed multiple organ failure of cardiac, respiratory (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome), and renal failures and had a cardiac arrest on the 31st day of admission. The victim was certified dead around 9 am on February 3, 2019, after cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was unsuccessful.

However, LUTH decided to take the position claiming Dr. Adepoju had in a series of misleading and incorrect public statements on social media absolved herself from liability in the management of the patient and put the blame on LUTH and its personnel, adding, “She (Adepoju) accused the medical team at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital of being responsible for the death of Miss Nneka Onwuzuligbo.

“She claimed this was due to wrongful positioning of the patient, stopping all antibiotics resulting in mortality. She stated in her video that liposuction and fat grafting is a new area of surgery, and doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital are ignorant of post-operative management of the condition.

“Dr. Adepoju instigated the relations of the patient and the public against the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and its doctors by saying that the plastic surgeons and doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital should be asked about the death of Miss Onwuzuligbo Nneka.”
LUTH also alleged that Dr. Adepoju performed the surgery on Onwuzuligbo in December 2018, four months before she was fully registered as a medical practitioner. While insisting that she’s a qualified cosmetic surgeon and had undergone the necessary training, LUTH claimed that she didn’t undergo a residency training programme. Neither is she registered by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

Consequently, the FCCPC arraigned Dr. Adepoju before Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, and was subsequently suspended from the medical profession in Nigeria following multiple malpractices and botched surgeries in her clinic.
Quackery is still a major bane of the medical profession, and Dr. Adepoju may have been debarred from practising. Still, it would not stop many young ladies aspiring and angling for plastic surgeons’ services, whether qualified or not. Where and how does the government wade in to nip this fatal practice in the bud?