What is liposuction?
Liposuction is the only proven way to remove unwanted and stubborn fat from areas to restore proportionality. It is not a treatment for weight loss or cellulite. The French physicians Yvez-Gerald Illouz and Pierre Fournier pioneered this procedure in the 1970s. Since that time thousands of men and women have undergone successful liposculpture, often with dramatic results. Liposuction removes localized deposits of fat that often exercise and diet alone cannot. This can make a difference to clothes fitting comfortably and can be very satisfying for those who opt to have the procedure. Liposuction can achieve results that gym work can not as fat can often lock into areas that are resistant to exercise such as hips and thighs on women and hips and chest on men. It is also great to help with muscle definition. At ARGERA, our doctor specialises in small to moderate liposuction and it might surprise you to know that our patients range from elite athletes, professionals, and celebrities to house mums. Not everyone, however, is suitable for liposuction and that is why a detailed consultation and assessment must be carried out on every potential patient.
What is the difference between liposuction, lipoplasty and liposculpture?
Liposuction is the most common name given to the procedure. Lipoplasty is the medical term used. However, doctors like our Dr Argie, prefer to use the term liposculpture. They feel that a good result comes from the ability to sculpt the body to restore balance and beauty. They are the Michelangelos of the medical aesthetic world and approach each patient uniquely to maximize their results. For the best outcomes, not only is a strong understanding of anatomy required but also knowledge of the human form. For this reason our doctor has also undertaken personal studies in classic art over the years. A liposculpture doctor is thus an artisan in body sculpture. Dr Argie prefers the term “liposculpture” but for the ease of potential patients uses the term “liposuction”.
Is it safe?
Twenty years ago liposuction was considered risky, however since the “tumescent technique”’ was mastered in 1985, it is now known as one of the safest surgical cosmetic procedures. Tumescent liposuction has 3 distinct advantages over traditional liposuction. The first is improved safety relating to the technique itself. Tumescent liposuction infuses saline with lignocaine (a local anaesthetic) and adrenaline into the areas to be treated. This lifts the fat away from dangerous underlying structures, reduces bleeding and bruising and, most importantly, anaesthetizes. The fat is then removed via controlled suction with a long hollow medical instrument known as a cannula. Dr Argie uses small cannulas known as microcannulas, which have the added advantage to give improved results to skin and promote skin tightening over the following 12 months. They also keep scars as small as possible (usually around 1cm or less). This leads to the second advantage, which also relates to safety in that the patient does not need a general anaesthetic, which has a high number of associated risks. Instead either appropriate analgesia or even a” twilight sedation” can be used allowing the patient to be relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. This leads to the third advantage of reduced cost to the patient since a general anaesthetic is expensive. For safety to apply however, the tumescent liposuction must be carried out in an appropriate medical environment such as a Day Centre or a Licensed Class B Day Hospital. This is the law. In these facilities there is strict protocols at sterility, structural and administrative levels to ensure the maximum safety for the patient. We would like to re-iterate that whilst the patient is awake for the procedure they are not in distress, comfortable and usually chatting happily to the clinical staff. The additional advantages for the patient of being awake during the procedure are multi-factorial. It means that the doctor can get the patient to tighten muscles to check contours and hence better results can be achieved than when dealing with a flaccid body of an unconscious patient, the serious risks of general anesthetic are gone and that patients return to normal daily activities faster. Like any medical procedure there are risks, which are explained to the patient in the detailed consultation process.
How long will I need off work?
The tumescent technique allows patients to return to normal daily life quickly in comparison to other forms of liposuction. Most people take off between three days to a week from work. Pain is usually not a concern, most patients equating the post-op pain as being similar to having gone for a long run after a period of inactivity. A postoperative garment must be worn after the procedure for 4 to 6 weeks to improve the final result. In the case of chins and necks this is 3 to 7 days. In fact the new fabrics make this garment extremely comfortable and discrete, and generally not a factor in returning to work. Exercise starts the day after the procedure with patient having to remain mobile. Return to normal exercise begins around the 2 to 4 week mark.
What areas can I treat?
Anywhere superficial fat exists in the body can be treated i.e. fat that lies above the muscle layers. Fat under the muscle layers, such as the abdomen cannot be removed. It is known as visceral fat and is the fat most responsible for health. It needs lifestyle modification. This is the reason why liposuction can improve “beer bellies” but cant get rid of them fully. Similar is to be said for women who have had damage to their muscle wall after having babies. Liposuction can reduce the size of the abdomen protrusion but it can’t give a flattened result if the muscles are weak. Muscles need to be strengthened through exercise or in the case of the women with children surgically tightened in the abdominiplasty (tummy tuck) procedure. It should be noted that a tummy tuck can remove unwanted skin, whilst liposuction can only achieve a certain level of tightening. Tummy tucks however leave large scars that extend across the entire lower abdomen, have 6 weeks of downtime with no lifting and run the risk of other significant complications. This is why many people explore the option of liposuction first. Our doctor can advise a patient in more detail once she has made an assessment of the individual’s desires and physical condition.
Common areas that are liposuctioned include lower abdomen, upper abdomen, hips, inner thighs, outer thighs, upper arms, calves, male chest, female breasts, chin/neck and upper back.
The removed fat can be inserted into areas such as cheeks, lips (to give a rounder sausage look), and hands. This is known as fat transfer.
Can it treat "man boobs" (Gynaecomastia)?
Gynaecomastia is a medical condition usually affecting men in late puberty or later in life, resulting in the enlargement of the breast area. ‘Man boobs’ may be a simple accumulation of fat that can be either treated by fat dissolve injections or, more commonly, by liposuction if the breast tissue shows small to moderate enlargement. It can also be due to an increase in glandular tissue that results from a hormonal imbalance whereby oestrogen levels are raised relative to testosterone. This can be investigated by pathology tests if clinically necessary.
Machine assisted liposuction?
There has been a trend of recent to market liposuction that is machine assisted. Essentially a probe is inserted at the time of liposuction to melt the fat to allow it to be more easily removed by the cannula. These sorts of machines have been around for 20years and Dr Argie has seen her share of them from vibrating cannulas to ultrasound to radiofrequency. At this stage the research does not show that they make a significant difference to patient results. There has been controversy that the melted fat may in fact get into the bloodstream and raise cholesterol but this has not been proven. What we do know for sure is that the heat generated by the device can damage the overlying skin to cause areas of necrosis (skin death and scarring). The machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and that cost must be recouped in the patient’s surgical fees. At present ARGERA doesn’t see that the additional costs add any benefits to the patient’s treatment and so do not offer any of these machine-assisted liposuction treatments. The one thing that can be agreed upon my all liposuction doctors is that the results are determined by the original condition of the treated area and the experience of the doctor
Will the fat return?
Liposuction physically removes the fat and so the same fat will not be returning. It’s gone forever. It is possible to grow new fat but only if the patient’s lifestyle allows for it. That is why our doctor says, “Treat your liposuction as an investment in yourself and look after it: Practice good lifestyle habits of diet and exercise”. Dr Argie has made a number of observations over the years based upon hundreds of cases. She has a theory that because it is impossible to remove all the fat in a liposuction, as some must be kept close to the surface of the skin for insulation and for final skin results, that the remaining fat cells swell and shrink as a patient gains and loses weight. If a patient continues to put on weight after liposuction the shape created at the liposuction will stay in place until they have reached a critical mass of weight. This is about 7 to 10 kg. At this point the fat cell divides and leaves two fat cells to swell. The result is that fat has returned to the liposuctioned area. If patients only fluctuate by a couple of kilos and stay under 7kg of weight gain, the results can maintain them selves for a lifetime. This explains why women who have hormonal fluctuations involving weight such as pregnancy and menopause may require a second liposuction years after their first.
Is there a non-surgical option to remove unwanted fat?
Over the years there has been some success for removal of fat via lipolysis, which involves injecting a substance to dissolve fat. This however is only suitable for very small areas of fat, requires multiple procedures that add up in cost, has variable results and can result in swelling for up to 2 weeks after the procedure. There are now multiple machines on the market that claim fat loss with no downtime from ultrasound to cold (cryo) treating the fat. The truth is that these machines have variable results and require multiple treatments. The cost of the treatments often adds up to make it more expensive than a true liposuction. Remembering that true liposuction has proven results because the fat is physically removed and disposed of. In addition these machines need to be medical grade to have any significant effect, are quite painful at the time of treatment, results are not seen for months and often require a diet and lifestyle modification and rarely give the outcomes that are advertised. Liposuction provides proven results with ongoing skin tightening and 70% of the final result usually seen at one month post procedure, minimal discomfort at the time of procedure and a return to normal pain free activities within days to weeks. The cost of tumescent liposuction can be far less than the accumulated treatments of any machine. As the ARGERA Centre specialises in fat removal, be assured that when we feel the technology provides value for money results for our patients we will buy the necessary machine.
What are the costs?
Liposuction is a tailored procedure and thus a quote cannot be given without a full assessment of the patient. At ARGERA we have a set theatre fee, garment cost and then a variable procedure fee depending upon the areas that the patient wishes to treat. There are no other costs. We have made all attempts to make the costs as low as possible without compromising on standards and quality. Dr Argie requires the patient to understand the procedure fully and encourages them to ask questions. For this reason she conducts two consultations for liposuction. The initial consultation provides information and ensures the suitability of the procedure, and the second (free of charge) to answer additional concerns the patient may have, to book a time and to arrange any pre-op medicals and garments.
How is Argera different?
Our doctor has been performing liposuction since 1998 and has trained with some of the top liposuction doctors in the world (European and South American) including the prestigious Dr Pierre Fournier. Dr Argie holds a Fellowship with the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery and a further Diploma in Lipoplasty. She sits on their registry as fully trained and proficient in liposuction. Dr Argie has performed hundreds of cases and attends both National and International conferences regularly to keep her knowledge and skills up to date. She has also lectured on the topic of liposuction and has published studies in medical journals on the topic. As mentioned Dr Argie has also done some personal studies in classic art, as she believes in the artistry of liposculpture. In addition Dr Argie is proud to let patients know that she practices what she preaches and believes strongly in the procedure she performs, so much so that she is wiling to admit to having liposuction in the past herself. Dr Argie can thus give a truly unique perspective to potential patients. She fully understands a patient’s motivations, concerns and desire for results. She cares deeply about her patients and will do her very best to achieve the maximal results possible.
The ARGERA Centre is one of Perth’s premier cosmetic medical centres and the only one exclusively licensed by the Health Department of WA for liposuction. The Joondalup rooms underwent extensive renovations to make it a Class B Day Hospital. This means that it has been assessed and passed to function with the highest standards in architecture, sterility and management protocols.
The care at the ARGERA is second to none. Our staff are committed to patient safety, care and satisfaction. All the clinical staff are highly trained and have experience in other areas of medicine such as emergency, coronary care and intensive care. They are have all been working for over 15 years in medicine and thus are senior. Our administrative staff are all experienced in the daily running of ARGERA and should be able to help solve any simple queries. All staff undergo ongoing training and education.
When choosing your doctor remember that picking one who is in your State means that if you have any complications or even just concerns that you have fast access to the operating surgeon. This can not occur if the operation is performed overseas or by an interstate doctor who is flying around the country. Liposuction is a surgical procedure and good aftercare goes beyond the first 24hrs. This is why our doctor has opted to work only in WA despite regularly being invited interstate to perform cases. It's so she can provide personal and exceptional after care to all her patients. Consider an no-obligation consultation and see the difference that a personal touch makes to the success of your surgery.
For important considerations prior to liposuction click here.