AN OVERVIEW OF SAFER LIPOSUCTION
Liposuction has been around for three decades, since the procedure was introduced by French surgeon Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz in 1982. It is a way of ridding clients of unwanted fat from the body and it is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures. In 2010, 3,369 liposuction operations were carried out in the UK by members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), whilst at present 450,000 are carried out every year in the US.
Despite its popularity, many who are considering liposuction have not researched all the aspects necessary to ensure you have a safe and effective procedure. Here are a few points to think about:
1. When would liposuction be the answer?
Surgeons agree that the best candidates for liposuction are patients with areas of fat that are out of proportion to the other nearby areas of the body (such as ‘love handles’) and who have found that these areas are particularly stubborn, not reducing with a healthy diet and exercise. Suitable candidates should have good skin tone and no significant excess skin.
2. What is the best type of liposuction?
All suction-assisted liposuction procedures involve a tube passing over the areas to be treated and a vacuum pump removing the fat. There is now ultrasound and laser technology, which can break down or melt the unwanted fat. However, as with any procedure, patients should not presume that newer procedures are automatically safer and need to consult with their surgeon to discuss which liposuction method best suits their body and requirements.
3. Is liposuction safe?
Only when performed by a fully trained and qualified registered surgeon who will bring to bear medical experience, judgement and best techniques. As an invasive procedure there are a number of potential risks including bleeding, nerve damage and the possibility of infections. As a matter of course one should expect to experience some bruising, swelling and numbness as well as retaining small scars. Due to the physical impact it is vital to consult an experienced surgeon, such as a member of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgeons), who will be thorough in working to minimise the risk of complications.
4. Will the fat go permanently?
This depends on the patient’s lifestyle and behaviour following the procedure. Each of us is born with a set number of fat cells – remove them through liposuction and they are gone forever. However, overeat and the excess calories will still be stored as fat within enlarged remaining cells. In order for the effects of liposuction to last, the patient must not eat more calories than they burn.
5. Can I pre-empt any problems?
BAAPS advise patients not to take aspirin or any anti-inflammatory drugs for a fortnight prior to having liposuction. If they are anaemic, they should take iron before the operation. However, those taking the contraceptive pill may be advised to stop in certain cases. In all instances, patients should refer to their surgeon and abide strictly by their advice, which will be tailored to individual cases.
GOOD SURGEONS CONDEMN BAD ADVERTISING
We welcome the call by BAAPS to curb inadvisable or potentially damaging advertising practices within the cosmetic surgery industry. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has declared that whilst they would ideally like a ban on all advertising relating to cosmetic surgery procedures, they most vehemently wish for a ban on discounted and so-called ‘special offer’ surgery. This includes group deals, money off vouchers and buy-one-get-one-free marketing hooks. We thoroughly support this as a way to improve the safety of cosmetic surgery throughout the UK.
We also concur that all vulnerable people need to be protected from the increasing number of cosmetic surgery advertisements, especially the under 18s. BAAPS feel that advertising to minors, who may be unduly influenced and pressurized, should also be banned. This includes restricting the use of ‘youth’ celebrities and the slogans and imagery that are so effective in targeting teenagers. It should also cover the use of Photoshop editing to promote unrealistic body images and set misguided expectations.
The former President of BAAPS, Fazel Fatah, said of the call to ban such advertising: "What we are talking about is [banning] advertising which encourages this group of people who are at a very tender age to go through a life-changing surgical procedure."
At the start of 2012, a report by MPs stated that advertising relating to cosmetic surgery should have its own set of regulations and asserted that pre-pubescent girls were unduly worrying about their physical appearance. MEP Linda McAvan made a plea for further regulation to the European Parliament, pointing out that: “A ban on advertising cosmetic surgery already exists in Belgium and France.”
In the first move of its kind in the UK, a TV advertisement promoting a slimming surgery procedure was banned from daytime schedules. This move fell in line with the treatment of general slimming ads, which are already banned from children’s programming.
The Department of Health is currently reviewing the regulations surrounding cosmetic surgery and a dozen recommendations have been sent to the Committee of Advertising Practice, which is the industry regulator. Like BAAPS, we hope that a more responsible approach to advertising relating to cosmetic surgery will be the ultimate result.
SIGNIFICANT GROWTH IN COSMETIC SURGERY INDUSTRY
This period of reform for the cosmetic surgery industry is also a time of sustained growth. The whole market, which includes both surgical and non-surgical procedures, has grown significantly. The UK market is set to reach the unprecedented value of £775 million by the end of 2012. That marks a growth in terms of value of more than 9 per cent.
This continues an upwards trend for the cosmetic surgery industry. By the end of last year, the market had grown to £711 million, showing an increase in value of over 10 per cent. The same study, by market researchers Key Note, forecasts that the market will have grown to £840 million by the end of 2013.
So what is the nature of this remarkable growth in the industry? From 2007 to 2011 there was an increase in the number of procedures of approximately 90 per cent. Non-surgical procedures were the highest growing area, featuring 110 per cent growth, with breast surgery being the next most dynamic area, having grown by nearly 57 per cent.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has provided figures relating to the growth in other areas of cosmetic procedures. The most marked area of growth other than breast surgery is in rhinoplasty, or ‘nose jobs’, which has demonstrated an increase of 7.4 per cent in the past year.
Such figures make interesting reading in a period that has had to deal with the fall-out of the PIP breast implant scandal. It would suggest that, perhaps thanks to the prompt response of governing and advisory bodies such as BAAPS, the general public ultimately retains faith in the industry. Or, could the public even be gaining confidence, thanks to the tough approach being taken to review industry practices? Whatever the perception of the industry at this point in time, it is vital, as the number of patients increases, that we continue to promote safer cosmetic surgery and best practice throughout the UK.
DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA ENCOURAGES COSMETIC SURGERY?
The rise of social media and the proliferation of digital file sharing are key features of life in the 21st Century. There have been countless effects from these developments and one which has recently emerged is that people appear to be seeking out cosmetic surgery and other non-invasive procedures as a result.
Now that a staggering 1 billion people use Facebook each month, in other words one person in every seven on the planet, it is rare to come across someone who has not got a cache of images of themselves somewhere online. Most people we know will have experienced having been ‘tagged’ in a photo, which means having had an image of themselves put online by someone else, regardless of how flattering or otherwise they perceive it to be.
Such modern phenomena, the increased sharing of photos as well as Skyping and FaceTime, plus the democratisation of taking photos with mobiles has apparently got us, quite literally, looking at ourselves more closely. However, research shows that clearly not everyone likes their close-ups.
Surgeons have reported a rise in the number of people who have turned to them for a facelift, or work on their nose and eyes, citing that they don’t like their online appearance. Whilst a mirror may seem unforgiving, a digital image can capture every angle and threaten to be ‘out there’ forever. This seems to be the focus of image conscious social media users.
As one US surgeon put it: “When you look in the mirror you’re seeing the mirror image of yourself. But when you see yourself on social media, you’re seeing yourself the way the world sees you.”
Another contributing factor is the fact that through Facebook and LinkedIn, we may be in touch with old friends and acquaintances who last saw us in person with a face twenty years younger. This is actively prompting greater numbers of people to consult their cosmetic surgeons.
It is important to be aware of the prompts for people to consider cosmetic surgery, in order to ensure that those seeking it are basing their decisions on valid reasons. Whether an unflattering film clip has made someone ask about a nose job, or a virtual school reunion has given rise to thoughts of liposuction, every reputable, qualified surgeon will always ensure that a decision is a considered, reasonable and final one, prior to moving forward. Make sure your surgeon is a member of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS, such as the members of SaferCosmeticSurgery.
A NEW PRO-SAFETY PRESIDENT FOR BAAPS
October sees the first full month since the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, or BAAPS, announced the appointment of Mr Rajiv Grover as President. BAAPS describe themselves as a 'not-for-profit organisation established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. ' This is an important appointment at a time when the cosmetic surgery industry is coming under greater scrutiny.
The choice of Mr Grover is a prudent one, as he has a proven track record in communicating safety messages to the public. As the outgoing President Fazel Fatah explains:
"We are delighted to announce the appointment of Rajiv Grover...This past year has presented a unique set of challenges... and as a long-standing Council member Rajiv has been instrumental in promoting the BAAPS message of patient safety and education."
A BAAPS council member since 2004, Mr Grover is eminently well-qualified with a triple distinction in Medicine from London University in 1989 and numerous outstanding professional qualifications and accolades. These range from the Hallett Prize, via Harvard, to being appointed a Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons. But amongst his many awards and prizes, one that may be of great interest to the public is that in 2001 he was awarded the Mentor Prize by BAPRAS for his published work on improving safety in the field of facial cosmetic surgery. He has written several internationally acclaimed papers on improving safety and enhancing outcome after cosmetic surgery.
Mr Grover himself is optimistic that the spotlight being shone on the cosmetic surgery industry since the PIP scandal may result in safer cosmetic surgery for all. He says: "The recent upheavals will hopefully herald a new era of healthier scepticism in the media and public, less 'fads' and a more robust regulatory framework for our field."
At SaferCosmeticSurgery, we're delighted with the appointment of Mr Rajiv Grover, as he has long been promoting the message of SAFER Cosmetic Surgery. All members of SaferCosmeticSurgery belong to BAAPS and/or BAPRAS and similar to Mr Grover, we believe that the patient's safety comes first.
7 REASONS NOT TO HAVE COSMETIC SURGERY ABROAD
1) Firstly and most importantly, if you go abroad to have cosmetic surgery, there is no reliable way for you to ensure that the surgeon is properly qualified. In the UK, cosmetic surgeons are registered with the GMC and official bodies such as BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and/or BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons), but it would be difficult for you to check a surgeon’s accreditation abroad, which makes having surgery abroad extremely risky.
2) Many patients book cosmetic surgery abroad because it looks like the cheaper option. Often, cheap treatments cut corners and are booked without any proper consultation with the surgeon. This can be disastrous. BAPRAS says it is best practice to have two consultations with a surgeon before any surgery, plus a cooling-off period to allow you to change your mind.
3) There is usually no aftercare provided for cosmetic procedures carried out abroad - in the worst cases once you pay up and leave the theatre, you cease to be of any interest. Problems can arise several years after the treatment (or even shortly after) and aftercare is a vital component of the surgical process. Even if there were aftercare abroad, could you afford to fly back out if something goes wrong? How much of a bargain would the surgery be in that case?
4) Travelling too soon after procedures may pose risks to health and hinder recovery. Both surgery and air travel increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. Some surgery packages include a 'holiday' after the procedure - however as alcohol, sunbathing and swimming will all be off-limits, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a fun option.
5) Most travel insurance agencies will not cover emergencies arising from this type of trip. The Association of British Insurers advises that companies will not pay claims for anything that goes wrong as a result of planned treatment abroad.
6) Misunderstandings that arise due to a language barrier can be very dangerous, with important advice or questions missed.
7) Crucially, there will be no system of legal redress when things go wrong. There are no international standards for plastic surgery that can be enforced, so the surgery will be undertaken entirely at your own risk, with no safety net.
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