Cosmetic surgery: Death by choice? Tonto Dike, Onyi Alex, Ini Edo, Toke Makinwa, Rukky Sanda and Caroline Danjuma


Crave for cosmetic surgery has become a norm among Nigerian ladies, particularly celebrities, despite condemnation by religious leaders. For some, it is fashionable to adopt cosmetic surgery to correct what they termed as “inadequacies” in some parts of their bodies like the breast region, buttocks and the stomach.

To them, the procedure enhances their beauty. It is commonplace to find old people wanting to remain young, no thanks to social media which seem to have changed the way many people view beauty.

Consequently, many Nigerian women are eager to undergo the procedure in order to achieve their dream of perfect women regardless of the implications. Meanwhile, stories abound about those who successfully benefitted from the procedure while there are others who attempted it but never lived to tell the story due to unforeseen complications.

Nigerian women alleged to have successfully undergone the cosmetic surgery procedure include popular actresses Tonto Dike, Onyi Alex, Ini Edo, Toke Makinwa, Rukky Sanda and Caroline Danjuma who were said to have had liposuction and breast implants. However, one-time beauty queen, Nneka Onwuzuligbo, was not as lucky as she reportedly died as a result of complications arising from alleged cosmetic surgery.

The story of the late Mrs Stella Obasanjo, who died after a tummy-tuck in a Spanish hospital, is still fresh in the minds of many Nigerians. Just recently, the news of the death of a 27-year-old lawyer made headlines.

The lady, identified as Eno, was said to have had a buttock enhancement surgery at a private medical facility in Abuja but died due to complications. In the ensuing controversy, while the hospital said the surgery was successful, many Nigerians are wondering why the deceased is not alive today.

The risk involved in cosmetic surgery has inevitably triggered many questions: Is cosmetic surgery really death by choice?   Is the supposed ‘ideal’ beauty or perfect looks worth the stress? Does the part of the Bible that says, “You are carefully and wonderfully made”, have meaning to Christian women procuring the services of cosmetic surgeons? While medical experts say cosmetic surgery is just a part of medicine and safe, some religious leaders believe it is a sin against God.

According to a plastic surgeon at the University Teaching Hospital Benin, UBTH, Benin, Prof Olugbenga Oludiran, cosmetic surgery is remarkably safe but charlatans exist. Oludiran described cosmetic surgery as any surgical procedure carried out to enhance one’s looks, appearance, etc, essentially to make him beautiful, younger or both. It may be as simple as removing perceived blemishes, or as complex as changing facial or body features to enhance body image and social appeal.

READ ALSO:  Meet Top 10 Nollywood Actresses Who Ride Range Rovers

Oludiran acknowledged that cosmetic surgery was not risk- free, noting that side effects, complications and even deaths may occur depending on what is done. He said: “People die on sports field or get injured, it doesn’t make sports unsafe. People die on the dance floor, in their houses and on the road. It doesn’t make all that unsafe.” Like every other surgery, the surgeon, he said, is expected to assess the patient on the safety of the proposed procedure, adding that the surgeon and the patient must know when to stop. “Avoid ‘Michael Jackson’s curse’. It’s a trap for the rich patient and greedy surgeon. Less is always more. Keep it simple always.”

Listing some of the complications that may arise from cosmetic surgery, he said there could be body reactions, scarring, loss of facial expressions, blood loss, disfigurement or even dismemberment and death can occur but cosmetic surgery is remarkably safe. “In the trained hand, the success rate is excellent.

Success drives demand. Unfortunately, accidents can happen anywhere in the world and in the hands of even the ‘best expert’”, he said. Oludiran traced the growing quest for cosmetic surgery to man’s huge consideration for looks, appreciation of beauty and appeal, as well as body image, adding that, in some cases, some are obsessed with identity. “There have been and there will be more need for it going forward. It’s a world of fashion and possibilities. As long as it is possible and affordable, people will go for it.” Noting that a lot has happened in the last two decades, he said pioneers had established the discipline of plastic surgery in most of the teaching hospitals across the country and many trainees developing private units for cosmetic surgery and diverse reconstructive procedures. The doctors who trained much earlier, according to him, were driven to greener pastures during the economic collapse of the 80s.

READ ALSO:  How I chose to die for my daughter - Caroline Danjuma


Further explaining that not all doctors are trained for it, Oludiran said it is the preserve of plastic surgeons to conduct cosmetic surgery but added that in a few instances, doctors and nurses can be trained in simple procedures like liposuction which they are not expected to go beyond. He, however, regretted that ‘charlatans’ exist in the practice, saying they are threats to the society, and so must be discerned and avoided. Stressing the need for regulation to stop quacks behind deaths and complications, Oludiran stated that in Nigeria, enforcement is often weak. Types Throwing light on the types of cosmetic surgery, he said: “There is a whole range of procedures that can be carried out on several parts of the body to enhance those parts, balance and promote symmetry and harmony in relation to the whole of the part, and overall body shape. “For instance, there are procedures for the nose, the lips, the cheek, the eyelids, the chin and so on, either on those parts alone, or as a set of procedures involving the whole face. There are lesser interventions on the face to promote youthfulness like facial injections of Botox to remove wrinkles and make the face look smooth. “Various substances can be injected on facial parts for similar results or to make the parts appear full.


These are called body fillers. Hair transplants can be done to remove baldness in men. Further down the body, the nipples can be customized to the wishes of the patient. “Saggy breasts can be lifted; breast size can be tinkered with to meet the desires of the patient. It can be reduced or enlarged, or in cases where the right and the left exhibit discrepancies, they can be balanced. “The shape of the tummy can be altered to remove tummy fat and eliminate redundancies by way of abdominoplasty. There is slouch flexibility depending on what exists; the wish of the patient and the experience of the operating surgeon. “Butt enhancements are also popular procedures. Operations on the vaginal are also possible to create ‘restoration of virginity’, tighten vagina, lengthen and or increase the size of the male organ.


There are procedures on the arm, the calf, etc”. Corroborating Oludiran’s views, a public health advocate and general practitioner, Dr Excellence-Oluye Olukayode, dismissed reports that many people are dying of cosmetic surgery, saying more people are benefiting and coming out successfully. “If it is killing people, more people will not be demanding for it. Like every surgery, there are possible complications that can arise and every surgery has a risk”, Olukayode said. He argued that people are dying from fibroid operation but that has not deterred thousands of people from undergoing fibroid surgery. Religious perspective  One of the religious leaders opposed to cosmetic surgery is a Senior Pastor, Shepherd Hill Baptist Church, Obanikoro Lagos, Reverend Israel Kristilere. Kristilere said, “It is wrong not only for women but also for men.

It is like an attack against God’s rule which He is not pleased with”. According to him, apart from medically recommended cosmetic surgery, any surgery done to enhance beauty or to look sexy is an act of playing God and telling Him he failed in His creation. “If it is done because you want to be more beautiful, it means you are telling God that He did not create you well. Such surgery done to enlarge the breast, the buttock, hip or any part of the body to make you look sexy is a sin”, the pastor stressed.

“But if there is a medical challenge or condition, maybe a man or woman has to do cosmetic surgery to correct an abnormality, it is okay. Probably fire burn or accident, cosmetic surgery can be used to correct such body damages.” He lamented the rate at which Nigerians are getting involved in cosmetic surgery. “The Bible says all God’s creation was good and perfect. By doing cosmetic surgery, it is a way of telling God that His work wasn’t perfect and good and you need to make it better. It is a no-go area for every child of God because you are offending Him by doing cosmetic surgery”.

Read more at: