A Quest for Beauty Leads to Devastating Consequences: Marlene’s BBL Journey

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By Sarah Brou

Marlene, a 22-year old student in pursuit of enhancing her physical appearance, made the fateful choice to undergo a widely popular cosmetic surgery. What she anticipated as a transformative experience turned into a harrowing ordeal, leaving her with life-altering disabilities. She’s now left with a damaged spinal column, making it extremely difficult for her to walk again.

“My friend had it done in Turkey, and it seemed wonderful. When she shared her experience, I didn’t fully weigh the consequences. She looked soooo good. I saw the way she looked in her dress with her new butt and I wasn’t happy with the way mine looked. And so, I decided to get my butt done,” began Marlene, a resident of Yopougon, Côte d’Ivoire.


After all, Moesha Boduong had done it. The Ghanaian social media sensation is famous for being curvaceous. She had liposuction and some work done around her stomach to attain that look.

Nollywood star Tonto Dikeh also did it. The Nigerian actress did not like how she looked and so she had plastic surgery to fix her bum which she thought was shapeless.

South African rapper Mshoza has had several procedures in her quest to look like Nicki Minaj. Social Media has it that she’s undergone breast augmentation, nose job, dimple chin, skin lightening and lip enhancement.

And so, Marlene decided to get the Brazilian Butt lift (BBL).

The Procedure

This procedure is a cosmetic trend often flaunted on social media. The BBL is a multi-step buttock enhancement surgery that uses fat harvested from your abdomen, hips, back, and/or thighs with liposuction to augment and lift your derrière. Your donor fat is injected into various parts of your buttocks to sculpt and add volume to your backside with the aim of achieving a more sculpted and voluminous look.

In 2020, an estimated 396,105 people had buttock augmentation surgery, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. This figure represents a 19.3% increase from 2016 as having a fuller butt and curvier figure is becoming an increasingly popular aesthetic.

The Dark Side

Notwithstanding the huge successes recorded in cosmetic procedures, quite a few of them have been spectacularly unsuccessful. While exact figures vary, some reports say that BBL-associated mortalities could be as high as 1 in every 3,000 procedures, making it the deadliest cosmetic surgery. And according to a 2023 article published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, BBL-associated mortality numbers have risen since 2019.

Marlene nearly died. Her aspirations for beauty have resulted in unforeseen complications, emphasizing the perils of conforming to societal beauty norms. This incident sheds light on the prevalence of butt lift surgeries among young women in Ghana today, serving as a cautionary tale to those considering similar cosmetic procedures.

Nigeria’s former First Lady Stella Obasanjo was not so lucky. She died while undergoing cosmetic surgery in Spain. Ghanaian celebrity and former Ghana representative of Big Brother Africa Confidence Haugen had a failed plastic surgery while trying to look pretty. She said she was unhappy with her sagging breasts and wanted something done about them but the operation cost her natural beauty.

Along with hundreds of thousands of women around the world, as many as 300 South African women were in 2019 affected after plastic surgeons performed their breast augmentations using defective silicone breast implants, supplied by French company, Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP). The implants leaked and were found to contain industrial-grade mattress silicone, a potential carcinogen, according to a report.

Marlene’s Experience

Marlene’s journey began with her discovery of the Brazilian butt lift through a friend, who had undergone the procedure abroad. It ended in her being crippled.

Without fully comprehending the potential repercussions, she went online to research available local facilities, and then she proceeded to the Madeu Hospital in Abidjan and consulted Dr. Alin Diagou, ultimately consenting to the surgery for the equivalent of US$3,350.

“I remember going alone due to the stress and pressure. The hospital staff surprised me with a warm welcome, showering me with flowers and numerous gifts,” Marlene continued.

She said the staff seemed professional: she was prepped, and within two hours, the procedure was finished.

“The initial stages of the surgery went smoothly. The staff provided attentive care, even after my discharge. I felt pains, but I thought it was normal. However, as time went on, the persistent pain became unbearable, depriving me of sleep.”

Marlene reported to the hospital. Despite her concerns, the hospital assured her that everything was fine.

“It was only after I returned for a check-up that I learned of the complications, leading to subsequent surgeries and my current condition.”

She soon found out that her liposuction procedure was botched and had subsequently damaged her spinal column, making it extremely difficult for her to walk.


Given the rising cases of failed cosmetic surgeries on the African continent, the CEO of wellness firm Premier Aesthetic Clinic Jahara Osman says people should not be ashamed of enhancing their bodies but be bold enough to go look for professionals to mitigate the effects of a failed procedure.

“People do not have any idea where they can get things done without anyone noticing or having it done well. Instead, they search for solutions online and end up with bad doctors or underground doctors who do not do it well.”

Marlene’s distressing account highlights her struggles post-surgery, including the discovery of a botched liposuction procedure and the subsequent damage to her spinal column, rendering her unable to walk.

Her family has rallied around her during this trying time, diligently seeking answers and solutions. Marlene’s father expressed his remorse, acknowledging his daughter’s misstep while emphasizing, “I understand it wasn’t a prudent decision she made, but she should not have had to endure this.”

This cautionary tale serves as a poignant reminder to carefully consider the consequences before opting for any surgical procedure. Marlene’s story underscores the importance of thorough research and comprehensive understanding before embarking on any life-altering decision.

MedContour, 2023

Cosmetic procedures are available for almost any part of the body with often long-lasting effects but the choice to undergo cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly. It is important to be sure about the decision, to consult an expert and to have the right motivation. This is because a patient may sometimes show signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and think there is something wrong with their appearance when actually there is none.

While Marlene and her family continue to grapple with the aftermath of her botched surgery, we can all draw upon her experience as a lesson, prompting us to make informed choices and prioritize our well-being over societal expectations. We join in their hope for Marlene’s eventual recovery and restoration of her mobility.

Since the Brazilian Butt Lift is such a nuanced and potentially dangerous procedure, choosing the right plastic surgeon is an integral part of your treatment.

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