From infusing a solution to reduce blood loss to breaking up fat cells with machines, doctors now have better and safer ways to carry out the fat-busting procedure
The growing popularity of liposuction – a fat-busting procedure that is never medically required but can be life-threatening – has led to the tightening of rules on it in recent years. In 2008, the Ministry of Health (MOH) ordered both plastic surgeons and general practitioners (GPs) who perform liposuction in medical clinics, except those employed by hospitals, to obtain accreditation from the ministry before doing so. Hospitals accredit their own doctors.
MOH also required such clinics to comply with special licensing conditions. One of these conditions is that doctors cannot remove more than 1 litre of fat from a healthy patient in a session without being in an operating theatre and using general anaesthesia. GPs are allowed to do day surgery in day surgery centres. The accredited doctors are also required to keep records of all cases. They have also been asked to submit patient outcomes to an accreditation committee. After a man died during liposuction in December 2009, the ministry introduced new rules to further regulate the industry last November. Among other things, these specify that a patient must wait at least two weeks between two consecutive liposuction sessions. Doctors also have to conduct peer reviews on liposuction procedures – discussions of cases, complications and ways of improvement – at least every six months, in groups of at least four.
Patients – with the exception of foreigners who come to Singapore specifically for liposuction – also have to be given a seven-day “cooling-off” period before the procedure can be carried out. This is meant to give them time to reconsider their decision and, if necessary, seek a second opinion. This requirement has led to three in 10 patients pulling out of the procedure, observed Dr David Loh, an accredited GP who does liposuction in his clinic at Wheelock Place. Dr Loh, who also chairs the Liposuction Peer Review Committee of the Society of Aesthetic Medicine (Singapore), said this is for the better, as most realised they had harboured unrealistic expectations of what liposuction could do for them. Other doctors say the requirement has had little impact on their patients’ decision to go under the knife, as they come in after having done extensive research on their own.