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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Suck out your stubborn fat like Rosette Ncwana if you have R60K to spare

Liposuction is a procedure that is common for women who have put in the work but struggle to get rid of stubborn belly fat.

Model Rosette Ncwana earned the praises of her social media followers earlier this year after being honest about her weight-loss journey following the birth of her second child. Social media followers sent her messages asking how she had managed to lose baby fat and still have perky breasts after the birth of her children.

In response, she said: “I’ve always had big boobs, but after baby Tali they looked like raindrops. I blame Gabrielle, she breastfed for 3 years. I struggled to do lingerie/swimsuit shoots, so I went under the knife for an augmentation. Baby belly was hard to get rid of, regardless of diet and gym time I put in. So I had a liposuction done. F* that sh* is painful. Giving birth has nothing on it mommies. Now I just maintain.”

Though Ncwana seemed to have achieved her weight loss goal following the procedures, people should still put in the work to reach their goal and go for cosmetic surgery in addition to their fitness regime, says Dr Dr Alexandra Grubnik, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Nip Tuck at the Netcare Milpark Hospital and Netcare Rosebank Hospital.

Liposuction is a procedure that is common for women who have put in the work but struggle to get rid of stubborn belly fat.

The procedure entails making a very small puncture on the stomach and putting in a tube that is connected to a liposuction machine and essentially sucks out the fat. It works very well, especially for diet and exercise-resistant fat.

“An ideal candidate is somebody who is at their ideal weight – fit and lean – it’s more of a shaping tool than a weight-loss tool. There is a lot of misconception about liposuction. Some people think ‘I will eat as much as I want and gain weight, then go to the doctor and take all the fat out’. It doesn’t really work out because the result is different for someone who is at their ideal weight and training regularly as opposed to someone who doesn’t take care of themselves. There will be results, it’s an operation. We usually take three to five litres of fat. Obviously you would notice it, but for the ideal result for liposuction, I would recommend someone who is already quite lean,” says Dr Grubnik.


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Getting rid of most of the fat through exercise is highly recommended because surgeons can only take so much fat from a human body without causing damage.

“If you take more than five litres of fat in one operation there can be massive fluid shift in the body, then it becomes dangerous. So it’s better to limit the amount that we take out. The recommendation is that you shouldn’t do more than five litres of fat because you don’t want to put your patient at risk.”

Like any other medical procedure, liposuction has side-effects and can be risky.

“No operation in the world – no matter how small it may seem – is completely innocuous. So when we have a consultation with a patient beforehand, we would discuss what needs to be done and what are the possible side-effects, and an experienced surgeon will do everything to stay away from complications,” says Dr Grubnik.

Side-effects include:

  • Bruising. “Because when we are moving the tube around to suck the fat, there will be bruising to some tissue that usually resolves within a week to 10 days.”
  • Discomfort. “Some patients feel like they’ve had quite a vigorous abdominal workout with their muscles.”
  • Swelling. “Because we inject some fluid to try minimise the bleeding during the surgery. We ask them to wear a compressive garment afterwards, which helps reduce swelling, which takes about six weeks to subside.”
  • Loose skin, which can be taken care of by a tummy tuck. “The skin needs to retract. That takes place over a period of up to six months and there are ways to encourage the skin retraction, but if there is a lot of loose skin, that’s also what we discuss upfront with the patient. So if there is a lot of loose skin then we would recommend something like a tummy tuck so we can take the fat and cut the skin out.”

The procedure is patient-dependent, as some have little fat and excess skin – which would require a tummy tuck instead – while others have equal fat and skin, which would require a combined liposuction and tummy tuck.

“Sometimes when the patient has excess fat and skin, we suck out the fat first, wait for six months for everything to settle and then do the tummy tuck.”

While Ncwana said the liposuction procedure was more painful than giving birth, the difference was that the former was done under general anaesthetic, meaning the patient goes to sleep and feels no pain during the operation and wakes up with no recollection of surgery time.

Just how painful is the procedure?

“We always give strong pain medication. We commonly give blocks into the area that was operated, so we inject local anaesthetic in the area and we also give pain medication afterwards that will control the pain. Everybody’s pain threshold is different. Although we’ve given them the pain medication, some patients will not even take it because they feel they have no pain. They only take Panado.

“I’ve had a lot of patients, for breast lifts specifically, that say they have absolutely no pain. Some of them don’t even take Panado at all. There are other patients who have a lower pain threshold and need a little bit more medication, but we normally prescribe a lot after the surgery and you’re allowed to take something frequently to maintain a pain-free level because the way pain works, if you allow for pain to escalate then it’s much more difficult to control, so I would rather have you at a pain free level continuously,” says Dr Grubnik.

The procedure is costly, as it includes the hospital stay and the hospital fee is time-dependent and how much time the patient spends in theatre.

“Usually for a tummy tuck it’s two hours in theatre. For liposuction, depending on how many areas, it might be one hour or how much fat we’re expecting to remove – so maybe one to three hours and the price is determined by that.”

Though Dr Grubnik advises patients to call the clinic for full prices, you can expect to fork out at least R65,000 for a tummy tuck and at least R60,000 for a liposuction.

Other non-surgical body slimming procedures:

  • Abdomen – R700 – R1,000 per session
  • Love handles – R700
  • Thighs (back and front) – R1,400
  • Upper arms – R700
  • Upper back – R700
  • Chest (male only) – R700

With a special interest in breast surgery, breast reconstruction, body contouring and cosmetic surgery, Dr Grubnik completed her training at the University of the Witwatersrand with a Masters of Medicine in Plastic Surgery (MMed) and is a Fellow of the College of Plastic Surgeons of South Africa (FC Plast Surg SA).

She also holds full registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the General Medical Council (GMC) of the UK.

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