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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Taking plastic surgery to Nigeria
Modupe Ozolua
Modupe Ozolua is a walking advert for her services
Businesswoman Modupe Ozolua is a pioneer with a difference.

She is spreading the word about plastic surgery in Nigeria which is a largely conservative and traditional society.

She set up her company, Body Enhancement, in 2001 and says she has been surprised by its success.

But some members of Nigeria's medical community are less than impressed, criticising both the medical and commercial aspects of the operation.

Men are having their faces done, stomachs and breasts, because some men have large breasts
Modupe Ozolua

Ms Ozolua says she has organised surgery for more than 100 clients in the past two-and-a-half years.

"I had to educate millions of people that it was OK, you didn't have to feel guilty," she told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Sexual surgery

The daughter of a traditional chief, she was aware that she was breaking new ground in Nigeria.

Hernia patient
Some surgery is for people with medical problems, such as hernia

"People knew nothing about it at all... it could have been a complete disaster," she said.

Ms Ozolua herself has had her breasts enlarged, becoming a walking advert for the services she offers.

While it is often assumed that plastic surgery is for women, some of her clients have been men.

"Men are having their faces done, stomachs and breasts, because some men have large breasts," she said.

Both men and women are having surgery on their sexual organs.

Men are interested in penis enlargement, while some women want to tighten their vaginal muscles, she said.

"Vaginal reconstruction" is for both single women who want to pretend they are virgins and for mothers who want to feel "tighter" after giving birth, Ms Ozolua said.

Flying doctors

"Nigerian men can be pretty cruel," she said, recalling a man who threatened to leave his girlfriend unless she had the size of her breasts reduced.

Hernia patient after surgery
This hernia operation was a success
"I found that very disturbing, that you would want to leave a woman, simply because she has big breasts."

"There's a lot of pressure on women here," she said.

Although she says she is happy with the way business is going, she does not have any full-time surgeons.

Instead, the doctors fly in from the United States once or twice a year, when she has enough clients to make it worthwhile.


Dr Daudu Abubakar Katagum, a paediatric surgeon at Abuja National Hospital, says he is concerned that because plastic surgery is not standard practice in Nigeria there are more likely to be errors.

He also says the lack of continuing healthcare is a real problem.

"Practitioners are only doing it for money," he told BBC News Online.

"Since there are no after care facilities, there is a real risk of infection in the affected areas after surgery is performed, " he says.

He adds that cosmetic surgery "does not address the main reason for excess fat or sagging skin which means affected areas can easily revert back to their previous form or even worse".

Country profile: Nigeria
07 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Nigeria
23 Aug 03  |  Country profiles

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