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‘Patronising Quacks Can Lead To Infertility And Death’




As the desire to get quick beauty fixes continues to rise immensely, especially amongst women, the Senior Registrar of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ekiti, Dr. Ayorinde Olowookere, has warned that apart from issues of infertility which may likely arise from these unauthorised procedures, death is also a very likely possibility.

In an interview with The Guardian, Olowookere explains that cosmetic surgeries should only be done by highly trained plastic surgeons. In order to be a specially trained plastic surgeon, the individual in question has to be trained as a medical doctor first, before proceeding to run a postgraduate programme in general surgery for a couple of years. After these, the individual has to pass Part 1 of the professional postgraduate examination, before proceeding to be trained as a specialist in plastic surgery. After being certified as a consultant plastic surgeon, the individual then proceeds to another highly specialised training in cosmetic surgeries.

Given the procedure they have to follow, he says “It is obvious that cosmetic surgeons are superbly trained over and over again, and so these procedures being performed by quacks in suspect environments leaves much to be imagined, because these surgeries in question are difficult procedures to perform,” he said.

He explains further that both short and long term dangers are common in the hands of these poorly trained personnel and he has encountered some cases in the line of duty. Some of these dangers range from poor patient preparation for these procedures, which in turn may likely cause complications during the procedures, such as excessive bleeding, damage to other body organs and/or introduction of infections into the patient’s body.

Complications may even arise as a result of the anaesthesia (in cases where it is used). All these can cause death of the patient immediately or soon after surgery. Poor management after these badly performed surgeries can also kill the patients.

Still speaking on the several dangers that are associated with this unwholesome practice, Olowookere points out that introduction of infections can sadly kill these women looking for cheap beauty fixes and if she luckily survives, several debilitating conditions could still arise, such as intestinal adhesions which lead to intestinal obstruction and eventually death or pelvic adhesions which may lead to infertility. All these may arise from a relatively simple ‘Tummy Tuck’, which involves the abdominal cavity.

On breast enlargements and reduction, Olwookere reveals that breast cosmetic procedures usually damage the nipples with resultant loss of sensation, if not handled properly. Most of the time, the breasts usually become disfigured and tend to lose shape and so the original purpose is usually defeated and that is why many people undergo several procedures to correct the previous one and on it goes; it becomes an unending cycle. Rather than beautify the breasts, one may end up damaging it completely.

Furthermore, there is the risk of the implants exploding in the breasts or buttocks after surgery, which has severe consequences. The implants contain liquid-like substances to allow the breasts remain soft and smooth, but if these implants begin to leak unknowingly into the breast, this may lead to loss of life. Worse still, because the breasts have very rich blood supply, if the surgery is done by a quack, this is a recipe for death as the blood loss would be quick, sudden and uncontrollable. On another hand, the breasts may remain deformed, loose sensation or the implant may serve as a carcinogen, causing breast cancer in the future.

Olowookere also discloses that when the body is disfigured from a botched procedure, apart from the original purpose being already defeated, regrets usually follow which may even lead to loss of self-esteem, depression, suicidal attempts and in some cases, psychological or psychiatric problems might arise. Most Nigerians are aware of Stella Obasanjo’s case, where complications arose from a tummy tuck and her intestinal organs were sadly affected by the liposuction procedure she underwent, which eventually led to her death. Hip enlargements and/or reduction fall into this category as well.

Complications that arise from a botched procedure are usually irreversible if the person does not die. Pelvic organs might become affected during a liposuction, giving room for infections, which lead to pelvic adhesions and infertility.

Olowookere lamented our Nigerian system that does not keep accurate records, and so getting the exact number of casualties of unauthorised quacks is almost impossible to obtain but he believes that it is on the high side.

Going further, he adds that unsterilised instruments could transmit HIV, Hepatitis and other blood borne infections, and these are not diseases to joke about, as they are usually terminal. Other infections are also possible, which can complicate the surgical sites, leading to wound infections, wound breakdowns and fistula formation.

He warns that the skin is a protective layer for humans and once damaged, the internal organs are automatically exposed to myriads of dangers from simple infections to something as serious as electrolyte imbalance in the body. The skin is protected by a layer (the melanin covering), which protects the skin from the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun, which as we well know, over exposure to these rays can cause cancer of the skin.

Tampering with this layer either in the form of invasive or non invasive surgeries or worse still, through skin bleaching or toning would strip the skin of this melanin protection gradually and expose the individual to skin cancer, probably sooner, rather than later. The skin suffers chemical burns as well, and when the skin suffers burns of any kind, it loses its protective functions.

On the assertion that many people use all kinds of ‘herbal creams’ and drink all sorts of herbal concoctions to aid the process of tummy reduction, breast and hip enlargement/reduction or even skin bleaching, he insisted that herbs are also chemicals and like all chemicals, are handled and processed by the liver.

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