Radiologist whose face was savaged by dog saved by plastic surgery

Dr Segwe after her operation. She is a doting owner of two Pomeranian dogs, Simba and Nala. Picture: Supplied

Dr Segwe after her operation. She is a doting owner of two Pomeranian dogs, Simba and Nala. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 20, 2024


Dr Aobakwe Segwe, a radiologist, was looking forward to celebrating her 40th birthday, when just a week shy of the big day, a dog threw a spanner in the works and left her face seriously injured.

Her expectations for the perfect birthday were dashed.

Dr Segwe, who is usually the one caring for individuals in need of treatment, was forced to be on the receiving end of medical care as a patient after her effort to pet a relative’s supposedly friendly dog ended in a nose injury.

“My cousin owns a spirited one-year-old Doberman, Chase. On that day, he seemed excited and in good spirits. I had no reason to be afraid of him at all. But, when I leaned forward to say goodbye to him, he jumped up towards my face.

“I felt the hard thud as he connected with my nose. It really did not feel like he’d bitten me. But, when I looked in the mirror, I saw to my horror that I had a serious injury, and through the wound I could see my nasal bone. We rushed straight to the emergency department at Netcare Pinehaven Hospital in Krugersdorp,” said Segwe.

She said that the staff sprung into action and addressed her immediate medical needs.

“Although I was in some distress, I knew I had to keep calm. Later in the surgical ward, the highly skilled and compassionate staff took wonderful care of me.”

Dr Segwe stayed in the hospital for a week, under the supervision of Dr Brian Monaisa, a world-renowned plastic surgeon.

Dr Monaisa described the bite wound as “quite devastating”.

“There was skin and nasal cartilage missing. I had to reconstruct the right half and the tip of the nose. I used a forehead flap, which would be the standard choice to do that,” Monaisa said.

He explained that the operation included turning down a piece of skin from the forehead over the brow and rotating it vertically downwards to resurface the nose.

The surgeon also took concealed cartilage from Dr Segwe’s ear to help rebuild her nose.

“With Dr Segwe’s 40th birthday fast approaching, our problem was that you have to wait three weeks before you can attach the forehead flap. That can be emotionally difficult for the patient, and this is where patient counselling becomes very important.

“We did the flap division four weeks later and this was followed by a couple of minor touch ups. With black skin, hyper-pigmentation can be a problem, but this was addressed with topical treatment and we achieved a good result,” he said.

A thankful Dr Segwe stated that her really happy ending was that she, “forced to pause and appreciate every little thing in my life.”