By Eric Elezuo
Dr Anuoluwapo Adepoju is a professional cosmetic surgeon, reputed to have conducted over 300 successful beauty related surgeries. In this interview, she reveals what it takes to undertake a surgery and many other intricate details about herself and the medical profession. Excerpts:
Pls tell us in details who Dr. Anu is ?
My name is Dr. Anuoluwapo Adepoju. I graduated in 2015 with an MBBS degrees from the University of Lagos College of Medicine. I am registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and a graduate member of the Nigerian Medical Association. I have also had further trainings in this field and other branch of medicine.
Does just having an MBBS and belonging to NMA qualify you to perform cosmetic surgery?
I have gone further to get the necessary trainings to specialise in cosmetic surgery. I am a physician member of American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. I completed certified trainings in liposuction and in hair transplantation and other minimally and non invasive procedure from the United States and Estecenter Plastic Surgery Center Istanbul, Turkey. I also participated in the live educational body cadaver workshop in Florida Orlando where we performed different cosmetic procedures ranging from liposuction, tummy tuck, breast lifts, implants and Brazilian butt lifting.
Which other trainings are you equipped with for the job?
I did a three month intensive training and mentorship programme with Desoto Family and Surgery Centre, Desoto, Texas. And on the side, I am an alumni of Lagos Business School, Enterprise Development Centre (I received a scholarship to study there from World Bank).
Briefly explained what motivated your decision to choose medical and beauty profession?
I have always had a passion for health and beauty being an only child of my mum; it was actually her dream to see me become a doctor. As a little child, my mum would ask me to look into the mirror and tell myself that I would become a doctor. She put the idea in my head and I started to fall in love with medicine.
I have opened business lines in the lifestyle sector and had a SPA, a cosmetic store, a beauty school and a makeup outfit at a point in my life. I moved into cosmetic surgery which has always been of interest to me and took the requisite trainings to specialise in the field. It gives me so much joy to see confident women, so in my own little way, I try to boost the confidence of every woman around me with either surgical or non surgical procedures.
In Nigeria even though our women are naturally endowed, they still strive for perfection or try to be better versions of themselves. One of our most popular procedures is to fill out hip dips which gives a more rounded silhouette.
Well, one of your efforts to see another woman confident brought about a backlash you are facing today. How did it happen?
I will say it is one of the challenges of the profession, but unfortunately many people have been fed wrongly far from the truth or are being malicious.
Any type of surgery carries risks and when we consult with patients we make them aware of the risks involved. We also have discussions on their general health and lifestyle as these factors can impact on the outcome of a procedure.
I did a procedure on a patient two years ago, in 2018. She had liposuction done and fat transferred to her buttocks for enhancement. The procedure was successful however the patient had respiratory issues. We had to refer her to a specialist institution for expert management and she was diagnosed with pneumonia. However despite expert care and attention she died after about 31 days. As a medical professional I am deeply saddened when a patient dies as we develop a good relationship and rapport with our patients during the consultation and all through their medical journey with us. As a mother I know how heartbreaking it can be to lose a child and I deeply sympathise with her family.
There were a lot of rumours going around social media about the circumstances around her death and due to medical ethic and patient confidentiality I am unable to go into the specific medical issues. However every care was taken by me and my team during her cosmetic surgery which was successful. Her underlying medical issue was handled by a renowned institution with expertise in that field.
Medcontour has a very good success rate. We are guided by our professional ethics on patient confidentiality and cannot disclose information on the many successful surgeries we have done. This some times puts us at a disadvantage in defending muddled up online rumours.
You mentioned that she had pneumonia; did she develop pneumonia while in your custody or was it an underlying illness she came to you with?
I believe that it was probably an underlying problem. For a liposuction procedure, we do not take a chest X-ray routinely for patients younger than 40. For over 40s we take a chest X-ray, ECG and all. We only do the baseline investigation for those younger than 40, and we did all that for the patient.
Is that a standard practice or your hospital policy?
Yes, it is a standard practice not to take chest X-rays for patients under 40 as it is a minimally invasive procedure, however every other baseline investigations is done for all patients. For patients who are going in for liposuction, chest X-rays are not compulsory unless the patient is 40 and above. That’s the standard practice anywhere in the world. Liposuction is not something that is done routinely in this part of the world. It is a relatively new procedure in Nigeria and we don’t expose patients to radiation unless it is very necessary. It is very unfortunate what happened to the patient and our facility will now be making it compulsory for x-rays to be taken by all patients irrespective of age.
So what is this accusation that you are a fresher, and was experimenting liposuction with the lady for the first time?
I graduated from the College of Medicine at the University of Lagos in 2015. I have had extensive training in cosmetic surgery and have carried out well over 300 procedures. My success rate is high because we have a competent and well trained team and a well equipped facility. We also do an extensive background check on the patient pre surgery to ascertain their general health and provide detailed information and guidelines on post surgery protocols that the patient must follow. The media backlash originated from a patient who posted her issues about our work on social media which went viral. The issues could have easily been addressed at the facility. At the time I had done well over 300 procedures.
Did you mean 300?
Yes, over 300 actually and still counting, and the patients are very much out there confidently enjoying and flaunting our good job.
It is sad to see how unsubstantiated media posts can potentially cause damage to a business reputation. The outcry has caused my facility to be shut down by the Federal competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC). The case is presently in court.
Is your hospital still sealed or has it been reopened now?
Yes, it is and unlawfully done.
The sealing was prompted by a social media influencer who made an unsubstantiated claim about a procedure she received at the clinic. Without verifying the claim many bloggers posted the story on their blogs and some even went further to make insinuations about my professionalism and rouse the public against me. Based on this, the FCCPC, without reaching out to me to get information on my competence to run the medical facility, unlawfully entered the facility, vandalised and closed it up.
This is totally against the rule of law.
There are processes and procedures that should be followed before coming to a conclusion.
All these actions have caused a huge damage to my reputation and has affected my business as well as my family.
The emotional damage cannot be quantified as due to the actions of a blogger who threatened to release my physical address online. I now live in fear as to the safety of my children and family.
How did this particular new threat come up?
A recent video was released on social media of a lady claiming she had complications for a fat transfer procedure to her bum and breast done at the Med Contour Clinic. The video did not show the face of the person so I cannot verify if she truly was a patient at the clinic. However we have had a patient who had this type of procedure and developed complications because she did not follow the post surgery protocols. This is a recurring issue with many Nigerian patients who are eager to show off their bodies after surgery and ignore the directives given to them. This includes wearing of special clothing, massages, instruction on not smoking and drinks etc. I am mindful of doctor/ patient confidentiality and will not be able to give full disclosure. However the patient was unable to attend the facility for a full examination because we were closed during the period of COVID-19 curfew. She was referred to another facility which is the standard procedure and was managed by an experienced colleague and was later discharged.
The patient called from time to time to complain about her health issues and I managed it in the best way possible. I visited her in her home on several occasions, examined her and brought drugs to her for free. I also asked for a loose culture which was not done till date. It was therefore shocking to see the viral online video claiming Med Contour had botched yet another pàtient.
But how are dissatisfied patients managed in this industry?
If a patient has issues, the first line of action is to call the doctor who then manages the issues and corrects it.
It is sad that in Nigeria a number of people resort to posting their issues on social media without first talking to their doctors. I found out about the issues of the patient was facing online.
I have been approached by a blogger with a demand for money or else I will be targeted with negative publicity. From the first night we had a conversation, the blogger started posting different things about me, like my house address, pictures, my spouse’s pictures and all online. I was confused because I don’t understand why I should succumb to blackmail and bribe a blogger because of an issue with a patient. Because of my stance to not succumb to their pressure to release money, they have been posting bad report endlessly about me and my family.
Did the blogger make any demand before they started posting, and what was the demand?
Yes, they asked for Two Million Naira but I refused to pay, then they said I should pay 1.5 Million Naira, and they sent me Bitcoin account details as well as the contact of the person to buy the Bitcoin from. This process made me realise they were professional blackmailers.
When he made his demands, was it via a voice conversation or…?
No, it was via chat with a friend of mine. The blogger called themselves Gistlover blog requested an initial payment of N2 million to make this all go away and later came down to N1.5m. The blogger sent details (a bitcoin account and that we should buy it from Greentech Empire).
I refused to make the payment and from that moment the blogger became very angry and told me I would be dealt with.
The blogger started posting false stories about us and the brand Med Contour. The blogger has put it out that I do not have the requisite trainings to carry out cosmetic surgeries.
Can the chat be screenshot?
Of course yes.
Alright, you said you have done liposuction on well over 300 persons, is it possible to have at least 5 of those people speak on your behalf?
Yes, I have quite a number of patients who are willing to show their faces in order to prove that I have worked on them without problems, but I cannot give out their information. I believe they can appear live, have their pictures taken and be interviewed.
Again, there were accusations that the lady who died was your first patient which you have debunked. Another thing which was circulated was that the same year this happened was the same year you graduated from medical school.
No, I finished in 2015 from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
Aside being a member of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), are you also a member of Plastic Surgeon Association?
I have never called myself a plastic surgeon.
I am not a plastic surgeon.
I did not do residency.
I am a cosmetic surgeon.
There’s a big difference between both. Plastic surgery deals mainly with cleft lips, nerve damage, burn injury, nerve repair, skin graft etc.
I have never referred to myself as a plastic surgeon and when I see them call me that online…well there’s only so much people I can correct.
Cosmetic surgery is mainly deals with tummy tucks, liposuction, breast implants and the rest. Now, I don’t even do all that; I strictly do liposuctions and fat transfers which is minimally invasive. It is like the most basic of all cosmetic procedures.
Cosmetic surgery is elective and focuses on improving appearance while plastic surgery repairs defects or reconstructs damages to the face or body.
A plastic surgeon undergoes more intensive training than a cosmetic surgeon because the procedures and outcomes of both surgery are different.
As I stated earlier I have undergone the necessary certified trainings to competently carry out cosmetic procedures.
So, in actual fact, what you studied and what you are licensed to do, covered the procedure that was done on the lady that died?
Absolutely! The degree we get from school is Bachelor of Medicine and I can perform any medical procedure provided I am trained to do it. I am trained to do Liposuction.
Are there any risks involved in cosmetic surgery, and liposuction in particular?
Like every life endeavour, yes. However, cosmetic surgery can be a relatively safe procedure if the patient is healthy, a non smoker with no underlying medical condition and follow up care instructions are maintained. It is also important not to do too many surgeries at a time as the body needs time to heal properly.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure, and all surgical procedures inherently have an element of risk.
Some complications that can be caused by liposuction include infection, bleeding, swelling and pain.
We must not forget that a one time First Lady of this country died during a liposuction operation, and hers was with one of the best in the world.
Yes, there are risks, but the risks associated with the procedure are minimal when compared to other types of surgery.
An experienced surgeon in a properly equipped operating room rarely sees serious complications set in.
At Medcontour, we do at least 30 or more cases in a month and about a thousand cases so far since we started. A few complaints from patients who were not compliant to a given set of post-operative instructions turned public opinion against my facility, unfortunately.
How do you want to be remembered as regards this job?
As one of the very few female cosmetic surgeons in Nigeria who has paved the way and opened the doors in a fieldd that is dominated by males. I want to inspire young women to know that by hard work and determination they can achieve their dreams.