Thinking of going for plastic surgery or non-surgical treatments? Here’s what you need to know

Dr Nombulelo Metuse. l SUPPLIED

Dr Nombulelo Metuse. l SUPPLIED

Published Mar 19, 2024


The beauty industry is buzzing with excitement as cosmetic doctors and plastic surgeons report a surge in bookings for both surgical and non-surgical treatments in recent years.

People are eager to refresh their appearance after spending so much time at home, and they're turning to a variety of treatments to achieve their desired look.

Injectables like Botox and fillers are leading the pack, followed by more involved procedures such as breast augmentation and liposuction, mommy makeovers and BBLs.

Skincare treatments, like oxygen facials and microneedling, are also gaining popularity, with Vitamin C and Retinol being the go-to options for a rejuvenated, smoother and brighter facial appearance.

But amid this beauty rush, there's a stand-out figure in the field: Dr Nombulelo Metuse, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

In a chat with Independent Media Lifestyle, she said: "My passion for the visual image, science, and art is what inspired me to be a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

“How privileged can one be that one speciality can encompass all my passions both at a personal and professional level? My definition of plastic surgery is an artistic division of health science."

Dr Nombulelo Metuse. l SUPPLIED

Metuse's journey to becoming a plastic surgeon was no easy feat. In May 2023, statistics showed that only 5% of all plastic surgeons in South Africa were female, and the majority were non-black females.

As the first black female plastic surgeon to qualify from the University of Pretoria, she faced numerous challenges but found support from her colleagues, mentors, and faith.

She explained: "The registrarship programme is a very tough and challenging journey irrespective of your speciality or race. It takes away from your social life, family, personal time, and finances. What helped me was support from mentors, friends, family, and my faith."

Metuse also shared her approach to handling challenges, categorising them into primary, secondary, and tertiary zones, and focusing her energy on achieving her goals.

“The most common misconception is that plastic surgery is very expensive. People believe that is only for the rich and if you do choose to go under the knife, you are not authentic or you are playing God.

“Frequently you will hear people say that if God wanted you to have a smaller nose, He would have created you with a small nose.”

During consultations, Metuse believes that an informed client is a compliant client. She takes the time to understand how much the client knows about the surgical procedure they are considering and fills in any gaps.

She also uses videos and pictures to show clients what to expect, ensuring they have a clear understanding before making any decisions. If the information seems overwhelming, she recommends another consultation or a second opinion.

Metuse also emphasises the importance of getting to know her clients on a personal level during consultations.

Understanding the patient’s home language, profession, family background, and support system is vital to establishing their cultural beliefs and boundaries, ensuring a personalised approach to their care.

When it comes to pricing, Metuse explained that it's not as straightforward as people might think.

The cost of cosmetic procedures is divided among several service providers, including the surgeon, surgeon's assistant, anaesthetist, and hospital fees. Hospital fees are further divided into general ward or ICU admission and theatre time, which is charged per minute.

Anaesthetists charge per hour and different hospitals may have varying tariffs. This complexity contributes to the variation in prices quoted by individual surgeons, making it difficult to put a blanket cost on cosmetic procedures.

Metuse stressed the importance of thorough research before undergoing any surgery, whether cosmetic or not.

“Verify your surgeon's qualifications and specialisations, practice number, This information can be obtained through a practice number (from BHF), which indicates their medical speciality and registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.”

In terms of recovery, Metuse pointed out that the duration varies depending on the procedure, the patient's preoperative condition and any existing health issues.

“For example, it might be a week for breast augmentation or liposuction and two to three weeks for bilateral breast reduction. A patient’s preoperative state and comorbidities will also influence the recovery time.”

Furthermore, Metuse flagged the importance of psychological readiness for surgery.

She said: "I work closely with clinical psychologists to ensure clients are psychologically fit for the procedure and to make sure they are choosing to undergo the procedure for the right reasons.

“This psychological support will also ensure the longevity of the surgical outcomes.”

She added: “Complications and risks are dependent on the patient’s pre-operative physiological state and the surgeon’s experience.”

In a recent interview, Metuse explained that patients at high risk are more likely to experience complications after surgery compared to those at low risk. She described low-risk patients as young, healthy individuals without other health issues and who do not smoke.

On the other hand, intermediate-risk patients may have well-controlled health conditions, recently quit smoking, or have a high body mass index (BMI).

High-risk patients, she noted, are currently active smokers with poorly controlled health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.

Metuse emphasised the importance of controlling modifiable risks such as smoking, high BMI, and other health conditions before surgery to minimise complications.

She also emphasised the need for patients considering cosmetic surgery to take the time to ensure they are physically and psychologically prepared, with guidance from their surgeons.

Informed consent, she stressed, was crucial for ensuring that patients understood the risks and benefits of the procedure.

Metuse pointed out that while the list of possible complications from surgery was extensive, many of them could be prevented with the care of a qualified surgeon and through careful patient selection.

She concluded by saying that an informed patient was more likely to comply with post-operative instructions and achieve the best possible outcomes.