big hips

Women in the city are buying and using unverified products to make their hips, busts and other feminine features bigger, putting their health at risk. 

| Shutterstock

What women do in search of fuller and shapely bodies

In the middle of River Road in Nairobi is a tiny shop. There’s no business name on the door, just a phone number. Inside is one compartment with a variety of drugs - tablets, creams and injections.

The shop sells beauty products - enhancement products for the butt, hips and bust. The serums packed on shelves have no labels.

River Road is an enterprising part of the city, where one can get just about anything - car spare parts, electronics, cereals and garages to knock cars into shape, as well as illicit trade like prostitution.

And here uncertified beauticians are making a killing from women also desperate for a body makeover. The injections, pills and creams contain high levels of chemicals to enhance their beauty.

They look at your body shape to determine whether you will get tablets, creams or injections.

An injection serum that costs Sh100,000 with no label on the bottle is administered to you depending on how wide you want your hips and bottoms to be. You get 5ml for the normal size, 10ml if you want it a bit bigger and 15ml to 20ml for an even larger size.

Injection serums

“We get the injection serums from 'Nigerians'. We don’t even know the names of these serums. They bring it to us and say this works for the bottoms and this works for boobs. We don’t need to get into much because we know the serum works,” a beautician said

Asked whether she could share the phone number of the Nigerians, she hesitated before declining our request.

A packet of pills costs Sh5,000 or you can get a bottle of 30 pills. You have to mix the tablets with a different kind and you can take up to three packets or bottles.

A prescription for boobs cream costs Sh3,500, while lightening cream costs Sh1,500.

She is determined to sell the products, despite side effects such as dizziness, nausea and diarrhoea, not to mention that the effects on the body are irreversible.

On the counters in different bottle sizes are serums - yellow in colour for the butt injection and skin lightening creams, with no labels on them to differentiate which works for what - but the seller says she understands them by just looking at them.

“I have not labelled them, because I don't know their names, but I can differentiate them by how I have placed them in the counters. For the bottoms, I place them on the left and the lightening I have placed them on the right,” she said as she giggles.

“I do trust my suppliers, so there is no way I am going to question them, but for the butt cream it does not work and if it works, you either get one bigger but and a small one."

She adds: “I have high-end clients, most of them are willing to pay Sh100,000 for the bottom enhancement.”

She noted that the injection to enhance the bottoms is more efficient and is more effective than pills.

"For the injection, results come after two weeks, but for pills, you will take more than 60 of them and start seeing the results. But the cream often never works and if it works maybe one bottom will be bigger than the other," she says.

Creams and pills

However, she continues to say that most of her clients are university students, who buy pills to enhance their bottoms, and women in their late 40s and 50s.

But the effects of the injection, creams and pills are not reversible. Once you make the decision, there is no turning back, you will have to live with the consequences.

"Most of my clients come for bottoms and hips. It's rare to find them coming for breast enhancement. They refer their friends to me, and that means it is working. If someone comes here and wants an injection, I first tell them the effect is irreversible and if they insist I go ahead, that is good business for me," she adds.

Florence, a mother of one who has used the hip-enhancement pills since 2016, said the reason for using the pills was to boost her confidence.

"My self-esteem was always low. I was really small, sometimes I would go out with my friends and I did not feel confident at all. I tried working out but it did not work out for me. Then my friend introduced me to the hip-up pills. So far, they have worked for me perfectly,” she said.

“The experience was not easy, because I used three bottles of pills, each costing Sh5,000 for a total of Sh15,000. I took them for three months. The side effects were diarrhoea, I was always hungry and had nausea but I never wanted to stop because I wanted to be confident about myself. When I stopped, my body did not go back to the way it was but I figured it was because of childbirth.”

Boost confidence

Plastic surgeon Kenneth Aluora said many people undergo surgery to boost their confidence and feel good about themselves and others because of the influences of social media.

"Most clients we get want a liposuction, which costs Sh300,000 and up, the Brazilian butt lift, which goes for Sh600,000 up, a breast reduction or breast increase, depending on the body, and a tummy tuck for Sh400,000,” he said.

“Plastic surgery in Kenya right now is picking up, but many people are still sceptical about it.”

He adds: “There is nothing like a perfect body, only normal, but there is something like a good body, so we try to make it as perfect as possible.”

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary General Davji Bhimji Atellah says the quality of every product that is released into the market should be certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

And if they are medicinal products, they are subject to scrutiny by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council.

 "Many products that are not standardized tend to have a lot of issues and that's why we have a standard quality control in the country," Dr Atellah explains.

 “People tend to pick anything that is in the market which is not usually safe for their body. That's why there should be public education on the need to embrace only things that have gone through Kebs and National Quality Control Laboratory.”