Dr Kristina Sule is a cosmetic gynaecologist. It’s a relatively new branch of medicine that involves surgical and non-surgical enhancement and corrections of female genital structures.
“As I did hundreds of Cesarean deliveries during my Master’s degree internship, I realised that I was keen on symmetry and feminine beauty,” she told JACKSON BIKO over a phone interview.
“Surgery can also be artistic and it should help women feel better about themselves,” she says.
A mother of a four-year-old daughter, she has a Master's degree in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and founded Allora Medical Practice, a private clinic.
Who is your frequent client who walks through your doors?
(Laughs) Well, two types; one is a pregnant woman who mostly wants antenatal care. The second one is a woman who has gynaecological issues. So, it could be a woman who has an infection or one who has functional issues. Some come in after experiencing laxity and they want to tighten their muscles or one who says they don’t enjoy sexual intercourse or experience pain etc.
How do you treat sexual dysfunction?
(Chuckles) Well, some of it is caused by emotional factors that doctors can’t fix medically. But most of it is usually women who say that they don’t like how they look and that affects their sexuality. We are introducing a procedure called the O-shot therapy that involves using blood from the patient, centrifuging it to extract the platelet-rich plasma which is reinjected directly in the vaginal area. This improves function.
Where did you study cosmetic gynaecology?
There is no formal programme in the world for this branch of medicine. I learnt through apprenticeship which I did under two doctors here in Kenya; Dr Francis Were and, in more general gynaecological capacity, Dr Cromwell Mwakirungu at the Armed Forces Memorial Hospital.
After medical school at the University of Nairobi, I worked at Aga Khan University Hospital as an intern, then I volunteered at Pumwani Maternity Hospital as an obstetrics medical officer for a year, then at Kenyatta National Hospital for another year to gain ob-gyn experience.
I then did my Master’s degree and with the help of my husband, I opened my private practice.
Your husband is also a doctor?
Thank God, no. (Laughs) He helped finance my medical dream. He’s my biggest supporter. I always wanted to be a doctor.
Are there moral and ethical implications you have to consider when conducting cosmetic gynaecology?
The truth is a lot of women face sexual dysfunction and because of social and cultural constraints, they are unable to adequately address these issues.
In marriages and relationships, it is grossly under-informed. What we are doing is allowing them to break these barriers. There is no moral or ethical issue.
You look half something and half something…
(Laughs) I was born in Kiev, Ukraine. My dad is Kenyan and my mother is half Ukrainian, half Kenyan. But I studied here, at Precious Blood Riruta and University of Nairobi. I lived briefly in Kiev, when I was in primary school before we came here. My parents divorced when I was very young and I was raised by both my mom and my grandmother, the three of us are very close. My dad has also been very present in my life. I married my college sweetheart at 26, after dating for five years.
The supportive guy...
Yeah! (Laughs) And my greatest cheerleader.
What lessons have you learnt doing what you are doing now?
(Long pause) Nobody has ever asked me that. (Chuckles) I think it’s how patients want to be treated. Sometimes it’s not about knowledge, because we all gain knowledge. It’s about how you treat your patients, how you make them feel. A great doctor also learns to cure with kindness and genuineness. I think patients, at least the ones I see, want to be talked to. There is great power in talking to someone, not as a patient, but as a person. It also helps if you have a modern and very chic clinic. (Laughs)
I’m curious, the world is full of medics graduating. Is there pressure to find your edge in order to stand out in the field?
Definitely, especially lately. When you are done with medical school and you open a practice as I have, you realise that on top of running a clinic you have to learn about marketing.
And now in the era of social media, for instance just doing a Pap-smear isn’t enough. There is pressure to be different, to offer more. It’s even tougher when you start a private practice earlier in your career as I have.
Is that a double-edged sword? There must be some demerits at opening your clinic earlier, does it put you at a disadvantage in terms of experience?
Why wait for long to go into private practice? I think I got more than enough training. I’d conduct about seven Cesarean sections and three hysterectomies every day. It gave me enough experience, so why wait?
What have you found to be the biggest benefit of marriage after being in it for eight years?
I’m turning 34, I got married early. My husband paid for my Master’s education and supported me emotionally. I think the greatest benefit of our marriage is friendship, being married to someone who is 100 per cent on your side even when you're wrong. (Laughs). Someone who tells you that you are going to be OK, even when you doubt yourself.
And what is the disadvantage of marriage?
(Laughs) Well, the fact that you are physically and constantly in each other’s space, especially now during Covid-19. (Laughs) It causes bickering, useless bickering. Being with the same person daily for many years makes you know everything about them. There are no surprises, which can be good and bad. There is monotony in marriage.
But marriage is great because you get to discover the good and ugly side of someone. I think we all need to see the ugly side of the people we love then ask ourselves if we can live with that side.
Once past that, you can have a decent marriage. We both have our ugly sides. My husband is a very patient man to put up with my flaws. I mean, if I was a man, I’d not want to be married to me. (Laughs).