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Why Nigerians are embracing cosmetic surgery

By Josephine Agbonkhese, Ebunoluwa Sessou & Florence Amagiya

Once upon a time, surgical procedures were dreaded and avoided whenever possible. They were considered too risky and were required solely for medical reasons.

Hence, consent forms must be duly signed prior to the commencement of any major surgical procedure. So frightful were such procedures that even women developed high blood pressures at the mention of birth via caesarian section.

They would do everything humanly possible to avoid a hospital “Theatre Room” for fear of possible death.

But that was in the past.

Today, with exposure, knowledge of technological advancement, and obsession, nothing qualifies to be called ‘a big deal’ anymore; including going under the knife at will to enhance various body parts as often as one’s bank account would allow.

Thus, plastic surgery, one of the most audacious and contentious trends of modern-day designed to enhance the shapes and sizes of body parts such as buttocks, tummy and breasts through fat extraction and transfer, has become increasingly popular globally and among Nigerians who can bear its financial cost; particularly celebrities.    This is not to mention the great amount of confidence required to flaunt a ‘suddenly’ improved body curve.

Though there has been a hush about it due to public perception and the fear of being ridiculed, leading to many who have undergone the procedure preferring to keep mum except for Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh who has been very open about hers, quite a number of Nigerian celebrities have been rumoured to have had a plastic surgery. This includes Iyabo Ojo who was rumoured to have undergone a tummy tuck, Toke Makinwa who was said to have had a buttocks enlargement, Nigerian barbie Bobrisky and former beauty queen Dabota Lawson.

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Growth in spite of risks

This growth in acceptance is surprisingly in spite of the copious risks, including loss of life, common with such procedures. In the United States of America for example, no fewer than three Americans were reported to have lost their lives between June 20th  and July 4th  this year, while undergoing the procedure. Back home in Nigeria too, earlier this year in February, a former beauty queen, Onwuzuligbo Nneka Miriam, was reported to have died following a complicated plastic surgery carried out on her by a Lagos-based cosmetic surgeon simply identified as Doctor Anu.

“The popularity of the procedure in recent years may have to do with the improvements that have been made in the cosmetic industry.  Today, there are more procedures to choose from, with radical transformation,”    Dr. Juliet Ottoh, a Clinical Psychologist with the Department of Psychiatry, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, told Weekend Woman.

For Dr.  Aranmolate R.Ayobami, Medical Director/CEO, Grandville Medical cum Laser Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery/Healthcare,Nigerians’ acceptance of plastic surgery is not unconnected with the growth of education and the influence of social media.

“People are aware of what is happening because they read very wide. These days, there is a lot being done and pictures being posted on social media; and since the world have become a global village, everybody knows what everybody is doing. Some of these people have friends who have done the procedure here and outside the country. So, with this common knowledge, it is understandable why Nigerians see nothing wrong with a plastic surgery,  Ayobami explained.

Psychological issues, body-shaming

For him, psychological issues stemming from body-shaming and more, form one of the common reasons people would dare every risk to have a plastic surgery.

“A lot of people are having image problem these days; especially when they are being mocked because of their body shape or size. For those who have not given birth to children, who have fats stored in the wrong places and really want to look good, they would rather go for a plastic surgery that allows for the retribution of fat. Yes, a lot of them are aware of the risk involved. But definitely, the advantage of having one far outweighs the risks. The most important thing, to them, is that they look good after the procedure and when people compliment them, they feel good about themselves; they are happy and feel fulfilled. For the ones who have had babies, they feel they have become very bloated in the stomach region and that this takes away their self-pride. Hence they decide to opt for this procedure.”

Post-surgical experience

Considering that undergoing plastic  surgery to enhance body parts is often viewed in a negative light by the general public, Ottoh emphasized that its benefits are largely dependent on the goals individuals set for themselves regardless of societal perceptions.

“Individuals who went in for the surgery with realistic expectations and achievable goals often saw great improvement in their self-esteem, depending on the success of the surgery. It is known that plastic surgery is not a ‘quick fix’ or a final solution. It is not fundamentally offensive either. The difference between the positive and negative experience depends solely on the individual’s expectations,” she said.

Medical, psychological effects

On whether the procedure could have some form of medical effects thereafter, Ayobami said: “There is nothing like effects; whether long term or short term. But there could be complications after the procedure. But if the patient is healed, then he or she is good to go.”

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He however freely rendered some words of advice to individuals considering undergoing plastic surgery.

“Find out about the selected surgeon and his or her experience. Find out what he or she can do and who he or she would be working with. Find out how safe it is to undergo the procedure. Whether the cost is cheap or expensive does not necessarily determine the safety of the procedure. Also, go online and do a review of the surgeon. Make sure you also carry out personal investigation about the procedure you are about to embark on,” Ayobami said.

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