“You are here to investigate me abi?” He smiled as he welcomed us into the Surulere office of the popular Grandville Medlasers Hospital.
“I hope this place is okay for you to do your recording, although I would have loved you to visit our Lekki branch. That place is bigger and more beautiful. But still, I thank you for coming,” he continued, all the while fiddling with his silver plated chain which held a bold Dr Grandville pendant. One would be forgiven for think he belonged to Davido’s 30 Billion Gang.
“I see you social media people and everything they say about me, but we are out here saving lives and making more people aware of the benefits of liposuction, breast augmentation and many other procedures,” he added still smiling and adjusting his green scrub.
Not many people knew that plastic surgery could be done in Nigeria until recently when word began to spread about Dr Aranmolate Ayobami, who is at the moment, celebrated as Nigeria’s most popular plastic surgeon.
During the day we spent with him, he eagerly shared his story with us as well as cleared some misconception about the work he does.
“You see, I have been a medical practitioner for over ten years now. I was not the one who pioneered it in my family; I have an uncle who specialized in helping burn victims, while I specialized in cosmetic surgery. At the time I started, there was nobody doing this in Nigeria. So I went to study in the United States, and then I later went to South Africa and decided to come back to Nigeria. But it was not an easy ride. There were other things I needed to learn, I discovered that there were so many things in the textbooks that were not being practised, so I did not want them to know more than me, I said I had to be at par with these people. So I asked my wife to take a loan of N370,000 It was with that money that I actually started my hospital,” he said.
That loan is what formed the bedrock on which his multi-million naira practice is now built on. At that time he started, cosmetic procedures used to be largely unpopular in Nigeria; they were widely regarded as a vanity endeavour unless used to address serious or life-threatening injuries and scars. Those who opted to enhance their appearances through cosmetic surgeries did so secretly, patronizing doctors and hospitals abroad for fear of harsh rebuke from a society that frowned at such actions. Modupe Ozolua– who pioneered cosmetic surgery in Nigeria at the turn of the century- was forced to defend her practice as she was seen as “encouraging bad behaviour.” Even at that, her clients have flown abroad for treatment.
According to Dr Grandville, “Only a few wanted to do plastic surgeries and even the few who were interested in doing surgeries were not ready to do the procedure in Nigeria – they would rather pay $10,000 to a US doctor to help them. My first client only paid me only four hundred thousand naira. While she promised to pay me the rest later, but I was not interested in the money. I was more interested in results, so I gladly took the money and worked on her body. In fact, she has been enjoying her new body for more than seven years now”
As he took this writer through the three-storey building where the hospital is located, Dr Grandville revealed that he and his team perform at least four surgeries daily, with each surgery costing an average of N1.5 Million naira.
Besides offering cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, vagina tightening and breast augmentation, Dr Grandville revealed that his hospitals also treat burn victims, cleft lips, cancer of the lips as well as patients who have cancer of the penis. Some of his patients have as well included women who have needed vagina reconstruction, having used caustic soda in an attempt to carry out D-I-Y tightening.
Although some of his patients have publicly credited him for their brand new bodies- think Cossy Ojiakor and Tonto Dikeh– Dr Grandville does not reveal the names of his celebrity clients, or any patient at all for that matter.
“I have done over a thousand surgeries and I don’t even think of them as celebrities. Everyone is equal once they walk in here. They come for a service and I deliver the service to them. Everybody is a celebrity to me but I have noticed that it’s my “regular customers ” pay better. I also noticed that whenever they come here for liposuction, some of them change their names. Some of them even ask me for promo and promise to spread the word to their friends but they never do. I don’t know why, but they never fulfil their promises.”
Dr Grandville believes that Nigerians still need to be enlightened about cosmetic surgery, “One day God will change their minds, you cannot convince people, you can only tell them that it is possible and it is not possible, even when some of them see that their friends have worked on their bodies, they will still fly out of the country to do what they want to do and when they realize that their friend’s result is better than theirs, they will humble themselves to come to us to treat them.”