Liposuction has gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the years. Most people think that it's an easy and convenient way to suck the fat out of people who are too lazy to lose weight on their own.
However, that cannot be further from the truth.
Liposuction is not the magic formula to weight loss!
To correct this misconception, DoctorxDentist Sessions featured Dr Christopher Chui, a trained, certified and accredited plastic surgeon in Singapore (and Australia) to enlighten all of us.
If you feel like liposuction is your best path towards a blissfully skinny future you, grab a salad and read on.
Not everyone is suitable for liposuction
Sorry to burst your bubble! Liposuction chooses you, not the other way round. According to Dr Christopher's exact words, "it is not a weight loss tool and has no proven medical benefits." (Yes, he spelt this out that clearly.)
Suitable patients must be able to tolerate general anaesthesia safely. Therefore, they should generally have good health, e.g. no heart problems, and good blood pressure.
Who can go for a liposuction then?
The best candidates for liposuction are people who have a stable weight, who exercise regularly, but for some reason can’t get rid of a stubborn area of fat.
Dr Christopher likens it to removing an imperfection in an otherwise perfect shape. If the shape was never perfect to begin with, one would have to change every aspect of it. That is not what liposuction is good for.
There you have it, the cold hard truth.
Liposuction is not about taking out all your fats!
Dr Christopher continues by saying that a good liposuction procedure doesn’t mean taking out the most amount of fat.
A well-done procedure should leave you with a more pleasing shape. For males, you can look forward to a more defined six-pack or biceps. As for females, you can expect a more hourglass figure where your waist is cinched and defined while preserving your other curves.
"What about non-surgical liposuction then? They must be suitable for everyone!"
I don't want to be a crusher of dreams but there's no such thing as a non-surgical liposuction. Dr Christopher explains that all liposuction procedures involve making a small incision in the skin.
A metal straw called the cannula will be inserted through this incision and this is where the magic happens. Your fats will be sucked out through this straw.
"Huh, then what are these non-surgical liposuction ads I see everywhere?"
Many spas and salons love to name their treatments as "non-surgical" liposuction, but the truth is, these treatments aren't liposuction at all.
Dr Christopher says that non-surgical fat reduction technologies work differently. These treatments use different energy to cause your fat cells to die, which will then be removed by your body. Regardless of the method used, their effectiveness is in the range of 20% reduction!
If I am the chosen one, how is liposuction performed in Singapore?
The basic liposuction operation in Singapore involves making a small incision less than 1cm long in the skin then inserting a metal ‘straw’ called a cannula into the fat and sucking the fat out.
Did you know the fat removed is not liquid? So the cannula needs to be moved in and out to loosen it so it can be removed!
You can expect to pay about $15,000 - $25,000 for liposuction in Singapore
A reader asked Dr Christopher what the damage would be (in terms of price) and the short answer is: it varies. Different surgeons use different techniques and charge differently.
As a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay about $15,000 - $25,000 for liposuction in Singapore in total.
Plastic surgeons in Singapore usually perform liposuction on a minimum of 5 body parts. Liposuction costs about $1,500 - $2,800 for each body part area.
Most surgeons will charge you an all-in fee that covers surgeon fee, anaesthetic fee, and an OT fee, but Dr Christopher doesn't think this is fair.
- If the operation is shorter than normal, the patient should pay less.
- If the operation is taking longer than usual, the surgeon may rush to finish the surgery without achieving the desired result. Because the excess OT and anaesthetic fees will be coming out of his/her pocket!
Dr Christopher charges a surgeon fee instead while his patients settle the rest. He gives an estimate of what the total bill will look like prior to the surgery.
There's more than one type of liposuction treatment
According to Dr Christopher, there’s more than one way to shed that fat.
- Your doctor can use a suction from a syringe or a machine. Of course, a machine can definitely provide more suction than a syringe.
- The cannulas (metal straws) comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- There are many special machines which can break down the fat in different ways. For example, powered liposuction can vibrate the cannula to break down unwanted fats while the bodyjet technique uses a jet of water to loosen the same fats.
- Other methods include VASER, which uses ultrasound energy to emulsify the fat prior to suction or lasers which can also be used prior to suction. However, this method is not common in Singapore.
Different surgeons come with different techniques so choose wisely
Dr Christopher also highlighted that different surgeons rely on different techniques. He uses a technique called SAFELipo, which involves using special cannulas to loosen fat before and after suction. This is to reduce the risk of contour irregularities.
According to him, this technique is efficient and produces optimal results when compared to traditional techniques. In fact, methods that use energy to break down fat like VASER or laser come with the possible risk of burn injury to the skin.
You'll want to take it easy after surgery
If you’ve undergone a successful liposuction session, congrats! The last thing you’ll want to do now is immediately take up gymnastics.
After liposuction, the treated areas will be bruised and swollen. They will be tender to the touch and there will be some pain on movement. The pain feels like a strenuous workout and is usually managed with painkillers. Of course, this pain should get better over time so give yourself a while to deal with the recovery process.
However, Dr Christopher warns that if the pain is very severe, it’s possible a haematoma or infection may have developed and you should seek a consultation with your surgeon.
What you need to remember
Liposuction works best for people who want spot fat reduction. It's much easier to get outstanding results when only small areas need to be worked on.
Hopefully, these tips from a certified expert have helped you on your quest to becoming who you want to see in the mirror!
Ever wanted to ask a health question to a specific renowned specialist in Singapore? DoctorxDentist Sessions are when these expert doctors answer all your questions, for free!
- Chia CT et al. Evidence-Based Medicine: Liposuction Plast Reconstr Surg. (2017)
- Vieira BL et al. A Risk Assessment Model of Liposuction and Lipoaspirate Volume on Complications in Abdominoplasty Plast Reconstr Surg. (2018)