Health: Flush your fat away
New Straits Times  |  July 2010

It's more gentle on the tissue, leaves less bruising and pain, and even has a shorter recovery time. KASMIAH MUSTAPHA finds out more about water jet-assisted liposuction.

FOR 10 years, Jane Ronaldson had been trying to get rid of her fat belly. She embarked on a healthy diet and exercised vigorously, but nothing worked.

"I didn't eat foods high in carbohydrate. I cycled, walked, jogged and worked out at the gym. I even climbed Mount Kinabalu, but the stubborn fat refused to budge," says the Scot, who has made Kuala Lumpur her home for almost three years with her husband. After the birth of her third child, she decided that it was time for another form of intervention liposuction.

Her friend, who went for the procedure which used water jet to wash the fat away, recommended it to her.

"It was quick and not as painful as I had imagined. I'm happy with the results as the fat in my tummy are gone. But I still need to eat right and exercise," says Ronaldson.

Prince Court Medical Centre consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Yap Lok Huei says body jet water-assisted liposuction is fast, effective and minimally invasive compared to the traditional method of liposuction.

Using a water spray, fat will be dislodged without the force used in conventional liposuction methods. The fluid separates fat from tissue efficiently as fluid is released under the skin. The fluid also helps to break up fat from other vital components such as nerves and blood vessels.

"The water spray 'dissects' the fat apart and washes them away. It is more gentle on the tissue and leaves less bruising and pain. This minimises trauma and discomfort for the patient and shortens recovery time. "The patient's faster recovery is good for surgeons as we can perform the procedure in less than an hour. It can be applied on the abdomen, buttocks, hips, knees, arms and thighs," says Dr Yap.

Introduced in the United Kingdom five years ago, the water jet technique has also been used in liver and prostate surgeries. It was later modified for liposuction.

Depending on the patient, the procedure can be done under local or general anaesthetic. Patients may need to stay overnight if they want to, but most patients are discharged a few hours after the surgery.

Dr Yap, who has done more than a dozen liposuction surgeries since last year, says the removed fat won't return unless the patient leads an unhealthy lifestyle.

"Liposuction is not a procedure to lose weight, but to shape your body. Although anyone can go for liposuction, there are criteria to meet. "If someone is obese, more fat need to be taken out, and there will be risks. If the patient is not fit, she can die, and people have died from massive liposuction before." If carried out properly and the patients selected carefully, Dr Yap believes liposuction is safe. "Some people go to unlicensed practitioners for cosmetic surgery because it's cheaper. But these clinics may not have an anaesthesiologist or a proper operating room. If something happens, they might not have the right equipment to save the patient," he cautions.

He also advises patients to exercise and lose weight first before they consider liposuction. Only when their body doesn't respond to these that he suggests liposuction. "Liposuction is not a quick fix as you won't get the same result as when you exercise."

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