Must know lipoplasty basics

By Mari Hudson, Health24

Choose your doctor
Choose a doctor with a lot of experience of lipoplasty. Your chances of achieving good results are better – and the risk of complications like infection is very small. The chance that a piece of loose fat may end up in your bloodstream with possible fatal results is regarded as extremely small.

All plastic surgeons are trained to perform the procedure and many general practitioners are also proficient at it. There are however inexperienced doctors who have just stared performing the procedure. Ask the doctor about his/her training, success rate, for "before and after" photos of patients, and if you may talk to previous patients.  

At the moment there is nothing preventing a doctor without any experience from performing the procedure in South Africa. A course of a few hours is not sufficient. It is best to first observe the procedure performed by an experienced doctor and then to do the first 10 or 20 procedures under his/her supervision. Make sure that you’re not the doctor’s first patient. (Rather the 101st.)

South African plastic surgeons and a group of experienced GP’s who focus on aesthetic procedures are campaigning that doctors should have a minimum qualification for lipoplasty and other cosmetic procedures. The matter is presently under investigation by the HealthProfessionsCouncil of South Africa (HPCSA).

In America there are also currently many questions about doctors’ training and lipoplasty. This is after a 37-year-old nurse died earlier this year during lipoplasty. The doctor had had only 18 hours training in that area. He was a professional health specialist who did not do surgery on a daily basis.

Answers to your questions

Could the same fat roll reappear?  
No, because the fat cells were removed. If you gain weight, it will happen all over your body and not necessarily in the area where the fat was removed. The procedure will however not prevent you from gaining weight again. You should rather follow a healthy diet and exercise programme.

Does the procedure make me healthier?
Unfortunately not. Usually about 3 to 5 litres of fat are removed and you end up lookign slimmer and healthier, but it doesn't lower your risk for heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure and other problems associated with overweight. This is because only the fat underneath your skin is removed, not the dangerous, poisonous fat between your organs. If you are overweight, there is a lot of that kind of fat; if you are slim, a lot less. You can only reduce dangersous fat by means of diet and exercise.

Is it sore?  
Before the operation a diluted salt solution, containing among other things a painkiller, is injected into the area. It reduces your pain for up to 12 hours after the procedure. After that, ordinary painkillers should be sufficient. 

What happens after lipoplasty?
You will be advised to wear tight-fitting and supportive stockings and clothes. The small cuts are not sewn up, but stay open, so that the remaining salt solution can drain out. The cut will close by itself within four to five days.  

Will my medical aid pay?  
Most medical schemes regard it as a cosmetic procedure and don’t pay. For information about a company that can help you with finance, visit

How safe is it?  
It is very safe, provided...     

  • You are a suitable candidate. Forget about it if you have heart disease, diabetes, lung problems or poor blood circulation, or if you recently had an operation near the area where you want the fat to be removed. 
  • Your doctor is properly qualified to perform the procedure. (A weekend course or even a week’s course is not sufficient.)
  • The consultation room or theatre is very well equipped. 

What about mesotherapy? (Plant extracts are injected into the fat to dissolve it.)  
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons said in a statement about a year ago that no safety or effectiveness studies had been done on this treatment and it cannot replace lipoplasty.

*Source: Drs Barlodien Kotzé, Henry Claassen and Alex Nikolic.

Two success stories
Candice (24) has had two rounds of ultrasound lipoplasty. Firstly on her legs and buttocks and the second time on her stomach and hips. “I just couldn’t get rid of the rolls, no matter how hard I exercised. Now I have a lot more self confidence.”

Marelize du Toit (39) from Springbok’s rolls around her hips, central back and stomach were removed with ultrasound lipoplasty. “It was not sore and I could feel the difference immediately. I was scared that I was wasting my money because I’m not actually overweight, and that there wouldn’t be any visible difference. But I immediately dropped a whole dress size.”  

(This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared Sarie magazine. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now.)

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