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Michael Obeng: Don’t repeat Tessica Brown’s “Gorilla Glue” mistake

The Ghanaian-American plastic surgeon shot to fame last week after a successful four-hour procedure to remove the glue from Tessica's scalp

Story Highlights
  • "I hope we all learn from this mistake and we should all be cautious whenever we pick a bottle, whenever we pick up anything to use on ourselves or our love ones, we just have to be careful, read it and make sure that we don’t make the mistake that Tessica made."

Dr Michael Obeng, the Ghanaian-American plastic surgeon who successfully removed “Gorilla Glue” – a polyurethane adhesive – from the scalp of Tessica Brown, who had been unable to get rid of the glue for a month, has advised the public to read the instructions on products carefully before using them.

The Beverly Hills-based surgeon shot to fame last week after a successful, four-hour procedure to remove the glue from Tessica’s scalp.

In an interview with Nana Yaa Mensah on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Tuesday (16 February) Dr Obeng said: “I really don’t know how this story went viral and of course I think God put me in a position to be able to help this lady.”

Learn from mistakes

He added: “Accidents do happen all the time and throughout my 15-year career as a plastic surgeon I have seen some horrific stuff. I have done some incredible things to restore people.

“I hope we all learn from this mistake and we should all be cautious whenever we pick a bottle, whenever we pick up anything to use on ourselves or our loved ones. We just have to be careful, read it and make sure that we don’t make the mistake that Tessica made.”

Obeng says Tessica’s story went viral because of social media and her sincerity, which made people relate to her.

The Harvard-trained doctor offered to perform the $12,500 procedure for free when he heard about Ms Brown’s plight after she shared a video on TikTok two weeks ago.

Tessica Brown, a 40-year-old native of Louisiana, told the celebrity news agency ET earlier this week that, in a hurry to leave the house, she used the adhesive when she realised she had run out of hairspray, thinking that she could “wash it right out”.

She took to TikTok to seek help when several personal attempts to get the glue out with tea tree and other oils failed.

Get it off

“The reason I took this to social media was because I didn’t know what else to do,” she said.

She “didn’t think for one second when [she] got up the next morning it was gonna be everywhere”. All she wanted was “for somebody out there to tell [her] something”.

But Brown became the target of unwanted attention and the object of a backlash, with many even referring to her as the “Gorilla Glue Girl”.

She said that people “wouldn’t say half the stuff” they have said about her if they knew her.

“Who in their right mind would say, ‘Oh well, let me just spray this in my head and become famous overnight?’ Never! … Who would want them to do that? I needed somebody to tell me how to take this off, that’s all it was.”

After having her hair stuck to her scalp for a month, Tessica found help with Dr Obeng, who carefully removed the adhesive in a four-hour surgical operation on 10 February. Dr Obeng says she will now “take two to three months to recover”.

Unique situation

Dr Obeng, who has a background in chemistry, said he used a medical-strength solvent and acetone to break down the polyurethane which is the main ingredient of Gorilla Glue.

Meanwhile, the Gorilla Glue company wished Brown well in a tweet, saying that “the situation is unique because this product is not indicated for use in or on hair as it is considered permanent”.

Profile of Dr Obeng

Michael K Obeng is a Ghanaian plastic surgeon based in the United States. He migrated to the United States when he was 20 years old and went on to train as a surgeon at Midwestern State University, the University of Texas Medical School and Harvard University.

He specialised in cosmetic surgery, with specific expertise in hand and neuromuscular surgery, ageing and complex reconstructive surgery. His skill in his field made him a prime choice for many seeking plastic surgery, and he soon became a celebrated surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. His clients include celebrities and royalty.

Obeng is the founder and chief executive officer of RESTORE Worldwide Inc, a non-profit organisation which donates free reconstructive surgery in African countries to people with some kind of disfigurement, including deformities from birth, disease or accidents.

He is the owner of MiKO Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills, a board-certified plastic surgeon, and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

The Consumer Research Council of America named Dr Obeng among the top plastic surgeons in 2011 and 2014. He is one of a handful of surgeons in the world to have reattached a limb successfully.

He has received many awards, including a research grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the much-coveted Herman B Barnett Award in Surgery and Anesthesia and the GUBA Humanitarian Spirit Award in 2017.

He was chief of plastic surgery for the St Elizabeth Health Centre and is currently on the staff of Cedars Sinai Hospital. Dr Obeng has also appeared on Second Wives Club, a reality TV show.

Fred Dzakpata and Nana Abena Boakye-Boateng

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