Nip, Tuck & Cosmetic Procedures: A Conversation With Dr. Hilda Titiloye
What started as an in-house conversation(between the Acting Editor, Onah Nwachukwu and her family) brought forth last week’s cover story issue on Body Enhancement. Conversations like, why it has become rampant in today’s Nigeria and what brought about the spike in patients looking to go under the knife to correct a flaw was dissected.
Although said discussions explored the stories of patients and their testimonials it was from a singular perspective. With that, we knew it would be an injustice not to highlight those whose roles are crucial to the story and introducing their medical takes on the surgeries and why they think the society we’ve found ourselves in is comfortable surrendering themselves to a high risk-reward.
To help clear the air and shed some more light on the topic, we sought out the opinion of Nigerian registered and licensed medical practitioner, Dr. Hilda Ashio Titiloye. Among her memberships are the Nigerian Medical Association, the Nigerian Association of Dermatologists, the International Association of Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine, and the European College of Aesthetic Medicine.
With a postgraduate training in dermatology and aesthetic medicine from the prestigious Queen Mary University of London and University of Cordoba, Spain, she developed a great interest and passion for skincare and beauty.
Currently serving as the Clinic director and lead Aesthetic Physician at the SKIN101 center, a full spectrum cosmetic medical facility, she’s able to guarantee her patients are given the utmost care and attention.
Despite being an avid advocate for the promotion of healthy ethnic skin and wellness, she went the extra mile to undergo Tummy tuck, documenting the whole process from start to finish. In this interview with DOWNTOWN’S Ayodele Johnson and Tilewa Kazeem, she touched on subjects that further broaden why aesthetic surgery has become glorified in today’s world.
Chronicles of My Tummy Tuck was such a fun read. It showed first-hand what you went through. You stepped into the shoes of a patient and went under the knife yourself. Did you have any fears or reservations that nibbled at you before and after the procedure?
Thank you for taking out time to read it. lol.
Funnily enough, I had absolutely no fears nor reservations. It might be because I am an insider. At our center, I see these plastic surgery patients come and go so these type of procedures have lost their novelty to me. I had no fears.
Throughout your career as a medical practitioner, you always advocated for body positivity and how the taboo mentality behind cosmetic surgery should be unlearned. What does believing in your country’s capability and that of your doctor to give you the right results do for women who feel abashed by the procedures?
Let me say first that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, the perception of beauty is completely subjective. What feels beautiful to me could be completely different from what feels beautiful to you, and we should individually embrace what makes us unique while accepting what makes every other person unique. We should also accept that not everyone is happy or satisfied with how they look and wanting to fix one thing or another really shouldn’t attract any shaming. We still have a long long way regarding this taboo mentality but I would say the subject of plastic surgery is much less of a taboo now than it was 5, 10 years ago.
As a doctor what does that do for the confidence of Nigerian surgeons?
Nigerian plastic surgeons have indeed come a long way. Well enough to even attract patients from other countries, so they have succeeded in reversing medical tourism in some cases which makes us all proud. I am not a plastic surgeon but I can speak for the ones I know. They are very confident and pleased at how the industry has grown in the last couple of years.
Would you be open enough to share with us some of the prices? How much do these beauty surgeries cost?
Hmmm. It’s a wide range depending on the procedure and the patient. Also depending on the surgeon. I will rather not say.
What role does social media play in pushing people to extremes just to attain elegance and beauty?
Social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, we use it as a tool to increase and raise awareness about the quality of work we do, on the other hand, everyone there, especially on Instagram puts the best version of themselves out there, showcasing unattainable levels of perfection which drives a societal desire for standards of beauty that are impossible to achieve.
In the recount of your surgery, you talked about your tummy itching. Is that a normal reaction to the surgery, and why?
Yes, it happens in many patients, it is part of the healing process.
Post Op what are some warning signs that indicate that all isn’t well with the procedure?
There are a number of signs. Excessive pain, excessive bleeding, excessive swelling, heat from the surgical site, fatigue, fever, bad-smelling exudates, pus-like exudates… there are a number of them.
People who carry out these procedures are often referred to as fake. I’d like you to clear the air about this.
The truth is there will be a subset of people that will always have reservations about this topic. And that is ok! If the next person thinks having plastic surgery makes me fake, so be it. I personally categorize it in the same place as having veneers, hair extensions, fake nails… etc but with different risks!
In my opinion, once you have decided to do this, you should just shut your ears to other opinions, especially condescending ones. Simple.
In your opinion how necessary are some of the procedures you’ve had to carry out?
Same as I tell my patients, we don’t need these procedures per se, we want them. Lol. They are not necessary. We want them because they improve our perception of self or improve our quality of life, but they are not necessary. There are some that are necessary don’t get me wrong, but I could have been ok without a Tummy tuck too.
You spoke about the pain five days after your tummy tuck as “not bad at all” Is this a healing process unique to you or is it a normal experience?
For me, I think I expected much more pain so I kept waiting for more pain and it never came. So I overestimated what the pain would be like. I have had patients complain about a lot of pain and others say it’s not bad. I would say it’s patient-dependent.
Fatal results such as the one that occurred in 2018, at the MedContour clinic show a need to verify the capacity of a surgeon to perform an operation. Are there specific checks that patients need to consider before submitting to surgery?
Yes, there are checks. Apart from Instagram and other social media platforms where most people seem to find their surgeons and sometimes encounter charlatans, in Nigeria, one can verify the credentials of the plastic surgeon they are interested in working with on the official website of the Nigerian association of plastic and reconstructive surgeons (www.napras.org.ng)
The focus when plastic surgery is discussed is usually on celebrities but the market expands to other demographics. Is the procedure common with any particular generation or class of people?
From my experience and encounters with patients that see the plastic surgeon at our center, the typical plastic surgery patient has a disposable income because the procedures are not cheap. Middle class to upper class. I find it’s mostly women in their 40s, 30s, and late 20s, especially after childbearing. Yes, a good number of celebrities come in but a good number of professionals do too.
Do the patients who seek an enhancement of their body have permanent closure regarding their concerns or do they have to commit to frequent bids to improve their imperfect bodies?
This is different for different people but for most patients, if satisfied after the first procedure, they hardly come back for anything else. There are a smaller group of people that would come back a second or third time either because they are perfectionists or the procedures didn’t meet their needs.
How often do you have men come in for one procedure or another in Nigeria?
Not as many as women. Certainly. The procedures our men mostly come for is liposuction and gynecomastia reduction surgery (male breast reduction surgery).
What procedure has the highest risk factor?
A body lift. Because it’s several procedures in one.
Which one has the lowest risk factor?
Every surgical procedure carries some risk, so anyone looking for procedures with the least risk better to go for non-surgical or minimally invasive procedures like Botox, dermal fillers, laser etc.
From your experience, especially after undergoing a procedure yourself, what are the biggest surgery mistakes doctors and patients make?
Some doctors overpromise. Big mistake.
And patients mistakingly think all the results are gotten on the surgical table. The aftercare will determine how well the outcome will be.
How far have patients gone in terms of their request to achieve a smaller waistline: have Nigerians gone as far as taking out a lower rib yet?
Not yet. We aren’t there yet. Lol.
Truly, what is your perspective on plastic surgery?
It is a very personal decision. I can’t say there is a right or wrong reason to have a plastic surgery procedure. For me, the Tummy tuck was life-changing, greatly improved how I view myself, and made me more comfortable in my skin. Simple. If given the choice again, I would do it again.