Nip & Tuck Those Flabs!
Losing weight is no piece o’ cake for most people.
We know of many a beautiful people who triumphantly did it—Victoria Beckham and Christy Chung, who shed their pounds despite several counts of pregnancy pounds.
It goes without saying that the most well established method of weight loss is through a low-calorie, well-balanced diet combined with moderately intensive exercise. It’s nothing revolutionary. Yet, we all know it is easier said than done. Some pointers on how to put this talk into action: (1) Go for a low fat, high complex carbohydrate, high fibre diet with special attention to limit empty calories, and (2) Aim to accomplish 30 or more minutes of moderately intensive exercise each day, depending on your health status. The golden rule is to expend more calories then what you consume.
Exercise Must Come With The Right Diet
Exercise is also an essential component of getting into and keeping in shape. Understandably, the standard recommendation of 30 or more minutes of moderately intensive exercise each day is impracticable for busy working Singaporeans like us. What you can do is to incorporate some form of exercise or other into your daily routine. For starters, choose to get off the bus a couple of stops before your usual one or park your car slightly further away from your place of destination and take a hike there; you also can make an effort to take the stairs up to your flat rather than riding the lift up to your floor. Any exercise is better than no exercise— if the only exercise you can afford is 20 minutes of jogging a week, that’s better than nothing.
Moderate exercise complements rational dieting. Simply decreasing the amount of food you take forces your body to go into a mode of semi-starvation, which causes the baseline metabolic rate to drop. The net effect is that although total calorie input decreases, the overall output also decreases. Exercise keeps that metabolic rate up even as you diet, so there is a resultant net expenditure in energy.
There is no shortcut to a healthy weight loss regime. A good aim for weight loss should be a 10% reduction from baseline body weight over 4 to 6 months, after which it should stabilize or slow
There are several slimming pills available in the market that can be added to a weight loss regime—some are sold over-the-counter and others are prescription-only. Over-the-counter slimming pills are generally not yet rigorously tested in clinical trials and are not necessarily listed with the Health Sciences Authority as medicinal products, so they could be made of anything—from herbal to homemade. In the light of Slim 10 causing liver failure, amongst other horror stories of untested slimming pills, the only sound advice is to observe judicious use of such unproven slimming therapies and the saying “buyers beware” applies.
Prescription drugs for weight loss range from appetite suppressants such as Duromine to satiety enhancers such as Reductil (which was recently withdrawn from the market due to concerns about its safety) to prevention of fat absorption such as Orlistat. Strictly speaking, these weight loss pills are recommended only as an aide to obese people or during unsuccessful regimes and are meant for short term use only—the key is still in instituting dietary and lifestyle changes in the long run to achieve and maintain weight loss. They should never be consumed like candies or taken on a long term basis for maintenance of weight loss.
Now, you’ve worked hard to achieve your desired body weight and there remain stubborn areas of fat that persist no matter what you do to get rid of it. In men, it’s usually the tummy and flanks while in women, it’s usually the hips and thighs. These specific areas can be furthered toned with the help of medical (or sometimes, non-medical intervention). Some of such options offered in the market nowadays include liposuction, lipodissolve, mesotherapy and even “fat burner” machines.
Fat busting procedures may be somewhat classified into invasive or non-invasive techniques. Generally, the more invasive procedures are more effective, but they also have longer downtimes. Invasive procedures include tumescent liposuction, by ultrasound-assistance or otherwise. Minimally invasive procedures include plasmalipolysis and mesotherapy. Non invasive solutions such as cryotherapy or radiofrequency machines are not yet considered mainstream medical therapies currently.
Liposuction involves surgical suctioning of superficial fat and is a well-practiced method of body contouring in the local medical cosmetics scene. Until the advent of tumescent liposuction, traditional liposuction used to be done solely by suctioning fat tissue out with a cannula under general anaesthesia. No doubt, hospitalization was always necessary and recovery took weeks to months. Nowadays, with advancement in medical technology and expertise, liposuction can be performed as day surgery, often with no hospitalization is required and downtime has also been consequently reduced. One of these newer techniques includes Liposelection®, which uses an ultrasonic technology that is tissue-selective. The theory behind it is that energy generated by ultrasound targets unwanted fat while preserving surrounding tissues such as nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, therefore it claims to decrease the time needed for healing.
Mesotherapy is a method of injecting chemicals, e.g. phosphatidylcholine, into unwanted areas of fat so as to dissolve it. It is a minimally invasive procedure and many consider it an alternative to surgical fat removal. However, as of today, it is not considered a safe method of fat removal or skin rejuvenation in Singapore and is classified as a List B Aesthetic Procedure under the Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee guidelines.
Another minimally invasive method of lipodissolve is with Plasma Lipolysis (theoretically similar to Smart Lipo or Laser Lipo), where laser energy is transmitted through an optical fibre in a probe and emitted as plasma energy. This is then applied through tiny, needle sized points to the superficial fat in stubborn areas to melt it. The liquefied fat is subsequently absorbed into the lymphatic system and eliminated by the body. This method is a cross between mesotherapy and surgical liposuction. As compared to conventional liposuction, it claims to produce less pain, bruising and downtime and is therefore a more attractive option for some.
There have been exciting advances in fat-busting technology, such as with the invention of radiofrequency and cryotherapy machines which boast of being able to get rid of fat tissue without the need for needles or scalpels at all. These machines work by stimulating breakdown of fat tissue when applied over the trouble areas, either by generating heat and vibration or by freezing at low temperatures. Thereafter, the fat breaks down and is absorbed by the body. There is usually very little downtime. However, the effects are only temporary. This technology still lacks large scale and acceptable clinical trials to prove its safety and efficacy in humans and is therefore not yet widely accepted in Singapore as medical therapy. However, if they do eventually prove to be efficacious, we may very well move into an era of fat removal without needles or scalpels!
In conclusion, weight loss is not exactly the easiest task to accomplish—the most important ingredient in any effective weight loss regime is good discipline with strict compliance. We can take heart at the fact that it isn’t impossible, especially after watching one or two seasons of the Biggest Loser. For improving areas of resistant fat, several methods exist, of which liposuction is one of the more tried and tested. Inherent risks are of course present in any method of body contouring, so it is important to consult your doctor early and make informed choices before trying any of the above methods.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to dump that flab and get on to a whole new image of a confident you!