Cape Town - South Africans may be tight-lipped when it comes to admitting they’ve had “work” done, but the local plastic surgery industry is steadily growing.
Dr Anushka Reddy, owner of Medi-Sculpt Aesthetic Solutions and president of the South African Association of Cosmetic Doctors (SAACD), says breast augmentation, followed by liposuction, are the top two most popular plastic surgery procedures in the country. A new trend emerging in the local market is genioplasty – or a chin implant – as well as buttock implants.
The country is also one of the world’s top destinations for “surgery and safari”.
Denise Hoogervorst, director of medical tourism company Surgical Bliss, places SA at number 5 or 6. She has found that plastic surgery plays a major role in the ranking. Other top destinations include Thailand, Singapore, India, Brazil and Malaysia.
Due to the recession, however, there has been an overall decrease in the number of medical tourists since 2009.
While clients come from across the world, many people from the UK are opting now to have surgery in neighbouring Eastern European countries, as South Africa is considered a long-haul flight, says Hoogervorst.
She has noted that people from other parts of Africa are becoming big role players in SA’s international cosmetic surgery scene.
Hoogervorst says clients choose Cape Town because of its world-class surgeons. She explains that clients vary, so packages are tailor-made to suit their needs and budgets.
“The priority is always the surgery and after that, the tourism. Some just want to rest and not run around sightseeing at all,” says Hoogervorst. She says some come alone and need care during their stay, while others come with family members.
And it’s not only women who are queuing for surgery. Reddy says at her practice alone the number of male clients have increased by 20 percent.
The most common procedure they elect is botox. She explains that botox is a quick, non-invasive procedure with virtually no recovery time needed.
“Men, especially those in the corporate environment, work longer. Many feel threatened because they’re up against younger, fresh-faced men straight out of college,” says Reddy.
This is part of the reason they opt for botox. Scores of men do it so that their face reflect their lifestyle: healthy and active.
Reddy says that in recent years, the deluge of reality shows around plastic surgery has got people talking, and more accepting of it.
However, a uniquely SA trait is that while people are more open to it, they are still secretive about admitting that they had procedures done.
“Vanity and guilt plays a big role in people being secretive about it,” says Reddy.
Reddy, 39, is a mother of two. She says she would definitely consider going under the knife for breast augmentation or a lift if she ever became unhappy with her body.
But for now, she has her regular fill of botox treatments.
“These are fairly safe procedures. As a doctor, when my patients ask, I can be empathetic and tell my patients, ‘Been there, done that’,” she says.
Health Professions Council of SA CEO and Registrar Dr Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba, has urged people to ensure they use practitioners who have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out certain procedures.
Mjamba-Matshoba says general practitioners can perform certain cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, provided they are able to show they are adequately trained and qualified.
Mjamba-Matshoba says the organisation has received a number of complaints regarding botched liposuction procedures. Some patients have even died as a result of complications.
In 2004, Dr Jan van Almenkerk was found guilty of culpable homicide by the Pretoria Regional Court after his patient died in 2001 of liposuction complications.
Van Almenkerk was sentenced to a fine of R240 000 or six years in jail. Half of this sentence was suspended for three years.
In 2007, the HPCSA charged him with disgraceful, unprofessional conduct. Mjamba-Matshoba says he was suspended from practice for a period of three years of which the first was not suspended, the second and third year are suspended for another four years on expiration of the first year on the following conditions: that he is not found guilty of unprofessional conduct similar in nature, and that he does not perform any liposuction procedures.
“The HPCSA advises that the public only consults practitioners who have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out such a procedure and that the procedure takes place in a registered theatre,” says Mjamba-Matshoba.
Mjamba-Matshoba added that the council is concerned about the general increase in offerings by beauty salons to perform botox and teeth whitening procedures. These procedures, by law, should by law only be performed by a trained healthcare professional registered with the HPCSA.
The HPCSA has an online register which the public can access to check a practitioner’s registration and qualifications. Alternatively they can call the HPCSA Client Centre on 012 338 9301.
Some well-known South Africans admit to having work done. Among them are:
When I was first approached about trying non-invasive laser treatment, I was duly sceptical. How could the treatment effectively zap away fat, and have you shed centimetres almost instantly?
I visited the Tygerberg Multicare Centre to try the procedure for myself. I had nothing to lose, but my love handles.
I filled out my medical history and Dr Liezl Voshol-Botha, a homeopathic practitioner and managing director of the clinic, explained the iLipo procedure.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US, the lasers simulate a natural biochemical change in the fat cell, breaking down triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol molecules. These smaller molecules escape through the cell wall and are transported to the lymphatic system to be used as energy during exercise.
Simply put, the fat cells are like “grapes”. The low level lasers would melt the fat inside the cell. Once this happens, the actual cell is emptied out within 10 minutes of exposure.
The centimetre reduction is caused as a result of the “grape-like” cell being emptied and reduced to a “raisin”. There is no damage to the fat cell.
Voshol-Botha explains it is important to exercise within 24 hours so that the energy could be used. Unlike liposuction – which removes the entire fat cell – the emptied cell is still present, and can fill up with fat again if it is not burned off with exercise.
Clients would have a session twice a week for four weeks. The procedure can be done on all parts of the body, except for women’s breasts due to the glands. The most popular area is the abdomen, says Voshol-Botha.
The loss of centimetres could vary between 2-5cm per session. Factors influencing reduction includes the body’s metabolism.
During and after the process, it is important to exercise and maintain a good eating plan.
But surely with any eating plan and exercise, one could achieve the same results?
Voshol-Botha says centimetre reduction would not happen as quickly, and it would be an overall reduction, instead of in targeted areas.
She takes measurements of my belly at three points, from the base up – 84cm, 88cm and 92cm.
Once my measurements are taken, it’s time to start the procedure. Three lasers are placed on my abdomen for 10 minutes a side. For the 20 minutes the lasers are at work, there is no physical sensation that tell me whether or not it’s being effective.
Once the lasering is complete, Voshol-Botha applies gel to my belly and uses the iLipo Ultra machine. The device sucks up the skin –like a vacuum massage – and squeezes out whatever fat is left in the cell. The process helps with cellulite reduction, skin firming and collagen production.
After about 40 minutes, it’s the moment of truth. Did it work or not?
We take measurements. At 84cm, I’ve lost 4cm. At 88cm, I’ve shed 5cm. At the top marking at 92cm, I’ve lost 1cm.
Now for the hard part: burning about 300 calories to ensure the released fat doesn’t go back to where it came from. - Cape Argus