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Why do you want cosmetic surgery? This is the standard question every patient is being asked, to determine if what you want is feasible and if you are a suitable candidate for surgery. Whatever the case may be, cosmetic surgery is a medical procedure that seeks to improve one’s physical appearance. If and only if, you fall in the right hands.

Despite the growing trend of having a big behind and an extremely cinched waist, the following words are strangely still taboos in several communities across the modern world: “fat and aging “. Nowadays the definition of these words varies greatly and looks shockingly twisted every time you hear a new version either on social media or in the streets. Our growing obsession with looking young and beautiful has simultaneously birth an excessive desire for cosmetic surgery as a means of attaining the “fantasy look.” Since the start of globalization, western ideals spread through the internet and cable TV have played a major role in influencing not only the African way of life but also the standards of beauty from the so called “big is beautiful” to whatever it is we identify today as beauty.

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One of the top destinations for cosmetic surgery is located in Africa. South Africa is famous for cheap and affordable surgical procedures such as tummy tuck, breast enhancement/reduction or facelift. Through medical tourism companies affiliated to top cosmetic surgery facilities, interested candidates from across the world can have the desired procedure and relax on a well-deserved holiday which will assist in their recovery. The South Africa’s Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, formed in 1956, now has more than 120 members. Local estimates suggest that surgeons dedicate 40-100% of their practices to cosmetic procedures.  Apart from South Africa other countries like Nigeria are beginning to pay more attention to these luxury medical procedures.

The “plastic market” in Nigeria is however, still too small for cosmetic surgery to be a full-time job for surgeons. Dr. Ozolua, a Nigerian plastic surgeon explains that because cosmetic surgery requires constant practice, there aren’t enough cases in Nigeria to keep doctors’ skills really sharp.  Dr. Daudu Abubakar Katagum, a pediatric surgeon in Abuja, told BBC News Online that there are more likely to be errors given that plastic surgery is not a standard practice in Nigeria. “Practitioners are only doing it for money. Since there are no aftercare facilities, there is a real risk of infection in the affected areas after surgery.” he warns.

Notwithstanding its growing popularity, some Africans continue to shun the act, referring to it as an inappropriate and unnecessary pleasure. In 2005 when former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo’s wife Stella Obasanjo died during a cosmetic surgery procedure, Africans contributing to a BBC online forum vehemently condemned the practice.

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Morfaw L. Rene, Cameroon: I think the idea of Africans going under the surgeon’s knife is one of those negative ideas borrowed from the West.

Anwar Sadat Issah, Ghana: Believing in ourselves and feeling good about the way we look will help us to automatically send off some positive signals about who we really are.

The “plastic” fan club was timidly represented but did not fail to display its devotion. Alvin Kennedy, African living in the USA: I support cosmetic surgery. If you have the resources (money) and want to look good, it is fine with me. People need to look attractive.

Other Africans like Maha Ayoub from Tunisia try to find a reasonable balance wherein cosmetic surgery comes as a miracle for those mutilated by disease or accidents. However, humans have always gone too far when no limits exist. “Africans may want Western waistlines, but they’ll have to draw the line at western featuresI’m not putting a Scandinavian nose on an African face” says Dr. Des Fernandes.

Just like trouble comes along with its chair, this trend has come to stay. Once you go plastic, there is no going back. It can be a bitter sweet addiction. Vanity at old age or a unique opportunity to live the perfect illusion? The choice is always yours.

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