At 33, I am not fat but I have saddlebag thighs and a bulging tummy. I’ve tried body wraps, exercising and dieting, to no avail. I’m thinking of liposuction, but I’m no movie star. Is liposuction for people like me and what are the risks?

Contrary to public misconception, liposuction is not just for movie stars. In fact, most of our liposuction patients are people who find that certain parts of their body are out of proportion with the rest and they want to look nicer and have their clothes fit better.

In women, the problem areas are the saddlebags over the outer thigh, a bulge of fat below the belly button, the backs of the arms and a “roll” on either side of the hips. No matter what, these areas just don’t go down. If they diet, their faces slim down, their breasts lose volume but the problem areas remain the same. And when they start putting on weight, these areas bloat up faster than the rest of the body!

The gold standard for body contouring is still liposuction. A fine stainless steel tube or cannula is introduced via a tiny slit directly into the fat which is literally “sucked out” like vacuuming the carpet. Of course, there’s more to it than just sucking. The plastic surgeon needs to have a fair degree of expertise and artistic judgement when he runs the instrument up and down the fatty areas or else patients can end up with unsightly grooves, divots or an unpleasing, undulating surface. When done well, the results can be quite startling and give the patient the trim shape and confidence she desires.

Liposuction has evolved since it was first introduced 20 years ago. Back then, we used big cannulae (1cm diameter) and only sucked the deep fat, which sometimes resulted in the overlying skin hanging down. Now the cannulae are very fine (3-4mm in diameter) and we can suck much closer to the skin, achieving an effective tightening or “re-draping” of the skin envelope so that this problem of sagging skin is not encountered.

We also use a “wet technique” in which a solution of salt water and anaesthetics is pumped into the fat before sucking, making it safer and less painful for the patient. Some of us also use ultrasound to break down the fat first or power-assisted handles which make the job of sucking much easier and help achieve a smoother finish.

The best candidates are those with body disproportion – where some areas are fatter than the rest. Usually, these are patients who are slim above the belly button and fat below it. In them, a true contouring can be achieved with good results and they should be up and about within a week.

Small areas can be sucked under local anaesthesia but large, multiple areas need to be performed under general anaesthesia.

If performed by a properly-trained plastic surgeon, the procedure is very safe. Sensational horror stories of punctured tummies and deaths are invariably due to unlicensed practitioners or untrained physicians.

Fast Facts

Most effective on thighs and butt. But can also be used on tummy, calves, necks and arms.

It gives good and lasting results with a visible lift to the butt mound.

You have to take a week off as swelling and bruising is noticeable. Those who’ve extracted a lot more fat eg 5-6 liters may need hospitalisation and a blood transfusion.

Dr Woffles Wu
Dr Woffles Wu
MBBS (Singapore)
FRCS (Edin)
FAMS (Plastic Surgery)
Think of plastic surgery in Asia and one name immediately springs to mind – Dr Woffles Wu! This innovative and exciting plastic surgeon from Singapore has for years been the name on the lips of men and women seeking aesthetic perfection. Armed with an impeccable eye for beauty, balance and harmony Dr Wu, dubbed Asia’s Beauty Guru by the Hongkong press has reinvented and promoted the concept of Non Surgical Facial Rejuvenation(NSFR). He is today one of the most sought after speakers around the world on this topic demonstrating his combination of Injectables, Fillers, IPL Photorejuvenation and his invention, the WOFFLES LIFT to achieve facial rejuvenation without downtime.