Article Medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)
Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics
Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
This narrative of private diary notes relates to this individual’s experience of having liposuction performed through the Victorian Cosmetic Institute in Berwick. The interpretation of these diary notes is a “guide only” and all inquiries should be related to the surgeon/doctor performing your procedure.
My decision to have liposuction:
The decision to have liposuction has always been on my mind for several years. I have had three pregnancies, two carried to full term , I also had a hysterectomy at 29 and two minor other surgeries hence after. My poor stomach looked flabby, untoned with many large scars, and out of proportion to the rest of my body. While I exercised and ate well all my life I still felt dissatisfied with the outcome, and my body just did not look good. I always believed I could improve myself, and look better. Having liposuction for me was not to make me look like a photographic model nor to please my partner or to fit into clothes it was to make look and feel “normal again”. So, the first stage of my journey was I that I decided to have a tummy tuck in Dec 2010, and it was very successful, and I was extremely pleased with the results. However, fat pockets remained on several areas of my body, these being my thighs, knees, waist, back, hips and arms. I thought I have come this far as may as well finish “my body work” and so my decision was easy…liposuction. It was the answer, to this long standing problem. Now, I caution one and all, just because one has liposuction this does not means one gets lazy and does not look after ones’ health or stop exercising. More importantly, liposuction is the starting point and the rest of the work is the continuation of healthy eating and regular exercise long after the surgery is completed. Ladies and gents this is a life – long commitment, one has to be mindful of not undoing all the good work done by the surgeon.
Research, Research and Research
When I had made up my mind to have Liposuction, my next task was to find a surgeon who I was comfortable with and informed me of all my options and risks for surgery and who above all was qualified. So, many hours were spent asking doctors, taking to people who had the surgery and researching on the Internet. Some things are “not negotiable” and having this kind of surgery is one of those things. My surgeon had to suit and my expectations as well as my high standards. Being in the medical field with my employment, well that entitled me to be even more fussy, but I was determined to do my homework on this issue. I decided I would research and have a consult with four prominent surgeons all of whom were well qualified. The first one (surgeon) was excellent, very qualified and extensive in his consultation, and I walked away feeling very confident he was capable in delivering me want I wanted to achieve. My only reservation was the cost of the surgery. His fees were excessive and the costs while not an option it can be for someone who has a limit on their finances. In my mind it is not worth it to but yourself through this and be in financial debt for a surgery, it has to be manageable. So, surgeon number two: He too was very qualified, but I did not have a good rapport with him. He was dismissive of my questions, and at time arrogant, his bedside manner was very poor. I felt I was an “inconvenience ” and not trusting his expertise, as I was asking lots of questions. He was dependant on his professional reputation to do the talking. Sorry, not my idea of personal service as I am patient not a number on a piece of paper! The final straw was that he keep me waiting one and half hours with no explanation over his tardiness and then the whole consultation was over in ten minutes and then I was handed over to a “nurse” to told me the process of the surgery. I felt professionally insulted and quietly got up and left the room. I went to reception and told the staff that I did not want to proceed with the surgery with this doctor. Oh, and did not pay for the consultation as I felt I did not receive an adequate service from him. Now, onto surgeon number three. Wow, he had beautiful surgery/rooms, very impressive with all the bells and whistles, very posh premises in South Yarra. Once again my gut told me sometime did not feel right. The surgeon was quick to “bully me into” doing the surgery and suggested that I only have a “twilight aneasthesic”. This shocked me, as I was aware that I need to have a general as I was prepared to have a large volume of liposuction on my body. While there are risks with anaesthesic, I felt having GA was the best option for me. This surgeon wanted me to have the surgery in two stages six weeks apart. This appeared sensible, but the down time did not suit me as I am self-employed and two recovery periods was not suitable. Finally, I was staggered to receive my surgery quote scribbled on the back of a “flyer” from the surgeon, and then told to ask any questions I had to the reception staff !. Once again, I left not booking a surgery date with this surgeon.
Finally, I had an appointment with Dr. Chan from the VCI (Victorian Cosmetic Institute). From the moment I walked into the premises I felt like this is it. This is where I belong. The staff were helpful and very friendly and informative. Dr. Chan was cheerful and very professional and made me feel worthy as a patient. I did not feel rushed, nor was I felt like I was “just another patient” All questions were answered and lots of info was passed around. I was given the option of a further consultation to decide, but I did not need it I had made my decision. This felt right and the surgeon and staff were beyond reproach. I spoke to staff, and booked by surgery for my liposuction.
I was then told to have several blood tests, and an ECG prior to the surgery date, I was given lots of paperwork, scripts for medication and a written quote and an extensive patient questionnaire to complete about my medical history. This needs to be handed in 10 days prior to surgery date, with the balance of payment. Surgery is booked for 3/08/2012.
ONE WEEK BEFORE SURGERY: Final check up and consultation with Dr. Chan. He runs through with me about the surgery again, and asks if I have any other questions. We discuss the patient information questionnaire and my blood tests and ECG results. 1 am fitted by staff with a compression garment for a (body suit) for after surgery recovery. All is good, and I depart knowing all is under control and ready to go!!
DAY BEFORE SURGERY: Today, I do the last of my preparation before the operation. I clean my house, do lots of washing of clothes, ironing and set up my room for post op recovery. This being preparation of some easy meals to which I cooked ( e’g. soup, light salads, light casseroles, and some microwave meals), lots of water, fresh fruit juice for the day after surgery. My bedroom is set up with lots of magazines extra pillows, a spare towel, water on my bedside table, medication, and the TV remote, mobile phone with charger. I walk the dog that day and enjoy the time out, as I am aware that she may have to wait a while for the next “doggie” walk while I recover. I go to the chemist and fill the required scripts from the surgeon. These being antibiotics, pain medication and my usual medication I take daily. Into the evening, I try and relax and before bedtime I have cleaned and scrubbed my body with Betadine (pre-surgery antiseptic wash) removed all traces of nail polish (fingers & toes), washed my hair, and done all personal grooming, removed all piecing and jewellery. Bedtime at my usual time 10.30, but I am wondering how will sleep tonight?
DAY OF SURGERY
A bit of a restless night woke a few times looking at the clock, knowing I had to be at the clinic at 8am. Trying hard not to think about breakfast, but I keep thinking about is how much I want bacon & eggs! Even water is totally desirable because I have been fasting from the night before. I am now wearing a loose top and track suit pants and slip on shoes, as I will be wearing these items on my way home after the surgery.
My husband and I arrive at 8am at the clinic, but I am quite surprised how calm I am. We say good bye and he wishes me the best of luck and a gentle kiss is given by him. I am taken into a pre-op room by surgical staff, they prepare me for surgery. We go through my medical history one more time, I am weighed, my BP is taken, body measurements and pen markings are done by Dr. Chan. I slip into a hospital gown and hospital cap and slippers, name tag on my wrist. The anaesthetist runs through with me with some questions. All is ready. I take a short walk to the operating theatre The theatreis very modem, bright and extensively equipped, staff are all gowned…I climb up onto the surgical bed, lie down and take a deep breathe Next thing I know I am sitting upright in a hospital recliner chair, I open my eyes and the surgeon and surgical staff are present in the room. They are quietly going about their business and I am still quite sleepy. A few minutes pass again I awake , I glance down at my body and I feel I am quite uwrapped up” as I am wearing a full body suit, and I have a IV drip in my right hand .but I have no pain I glance at the clock on the wall it is 4.30pm ! So, where did the day go….? 1 fall asleep again, but I am woken up by my husband’s voice calling my name. I am told by the surgeon that my staturation levels are a bit low and I am a bit anaemic, and that it needs to be monitored. It is suggested that I go to the local hospital overnight to be monitored as a precaution. I am told this is not the usually the case as most liposuction surgeries are very straight forward. The decision is made and I am transported (via ambulance) to the local regional hospital for an overnight stay. Still a bit sleepy but otherwise feeling quite okay.
I do notice that my hands and feet are a bit swollen, as my wedding ring is quite tight on my finger, I feel a bit like the “Michellan tyre man” so very bloated . Staff in hospital are wonderful, and I finally have a drink of ice water not hungry just tired. Could not sleep all night as the hospital ward was quite noisy, all I want to do is go home and lay down in my bed !
So, the process begins to heal. While I am not in any real pain (I am convinced it is all the drugs still in my system) I am very stiff and my muscles are very sore. This would be a 9/10. It is like having done a very hard severe personal training session plus that feeling like you someone ran over you with a car! Hey boot camp has nothing on this !! Walking is painful, but I am persistent and gentle on myself. Going to the toilet is an exercise of self determination and lots of patience. I pull myself out of bed every hour on the hour and go for a few minute walk about the house. I do this to allow my body to readjust from the trauma of surgery. Taking all my meds, but I decide to sleep without taking Panadiene Forte (as prescribed). I do okay, and wake at 6.30, had 6-7 hours sleep. Get up go to the toilet, take half a tablet of pain medication then go back to bed.
Once again, I am having difficulty getting out of bed, because I am so stiff and sore. I take two Panadol tablets and have breakfast. My darling other half (husband) serves me breakfast in bed ! read the Sunday papers, hey a girl could get use to this… bliss !!!!
Again I plan to get up and move around and make sure I am not lying in bed all day. I gently shuffle around the house, and slowly tidy the house up, I even clean the dishes from breakfast. Back to bed, rest, then up again an hour later and walk for a few minutes. I have noticed that I have a sore throat, and this is due to the breathing tube insert into my throat, while I have had many aenaethstics previously this is the first time I have had this small problem. I am keeping my diet very light and drinking lots of fluids and, avoiding tea and coffee and all fatty or greasy foods. But I have a craving for ice-cream…so it is what I eat.
Stilt very stiff and sore, sleeping okay at night, it is uncomfortable with the body suit on but bearable. Today I drive my car to the surgeon for a review post op, lucky for me it was only a 8 kilometre trip, and I drive like a “old nanna” hunched over the steering wheel of the car. I should have taken that offer from my girlfriend to drive me to the surgeon’s rooms. Still feel very bloated sore but it is bearable. The foam which is placed over the stitches where the cannulas were inserted to do the liposuction is itching and I want to pull it out from under the garment.
This was a tough day, feeling very tired had a bad headache and the nausea was not good. I learned a golden lesson today also. Do not allow yourself to become constipated after this kind of surgery. It is a whole world of pain and discomfort that is unbelievable. Take medication to keep your stools soft and you will keep a smile on your face. Stripping down (out of the compression garment) to go to the toilet several times a day is a skill….and one needs to think in advance especially if you need to go in a hurry!
Another surgical review today, as I had the foam removed, and clean body compression garment replaced. Did feel a quite faint when I removed the suit, this is a normal reaction after having been so tightly compressed for several days, it is just the muscles and blood flow readjusting again. Quick drink of water, a quick lie down for a few minutes and I right to go. When I removed the garment I looked down at my body, as this was the first time I had a opportunity to see “the new me” after surgery. About 70% of my body was bruised. It was every colour of the rainbow…with several wound entry sites. I was told I had had a massive amount of liposuction on my body. This being thighs (both back and front) hips, waist, back and stomach and even on my arms. But I was fully aware of this, but it is a bit of a shock when you see yourself for the first time in this condition.
Today, the surgical nurse is going to remove all the stitches from the surgical sites all 61 of them !!! Quite a long process, but we got there in the end. I am determined not to take any more pain relief medication as I want to manage it through other ways. I listen to relaxation tapes, listen to music, and I meditate and use deep muscle relaxation techniques on my body…. and it works .
I return home and have my first full body shower, and wash my hair. OMG I feel half human again. I was afraid to stand next anyone in case I had bad body odour, but I am very conscious of sweating and make sure I change the compression garment often. I also manage to find a soft bra to wear under the suit as it was pressing my breasts very flat and making them quite uncomfortable as I am 14D (38″) busted girl I was looking for relief. I am still quite bloated and still very bruised but time heals all.
My first reaction to seeing my body after the surgery was of amazement. It looked so different… the excess fat on my hips (saddlebags) were gone, it was gone off my waist, back and stomach, and my arms looked slimmer. The “tuck shop” arms are gone too.
Finally, I have a perfect hour glass shape.
I return to work today, with some caution. I am lucky that I have a sit down job so I can rest. I keep my work load light, and my loose clothing hides the extra bulk from the compression garment. No one at work is aware that I have had liposuction surgery. I am becoming an expert at stripping down out of the compression garment each day to have a shower and then get back into it. I learn to only undo a certain number to hooks and eye fasteners as to undo them all takes forever. It is quite tricky to wiggle one’s self back into if you feel sore and bruised. I found by lying down on bed on my back and pull the suit together I was able to complete the task in only a few minutes. I am not taking any more pain medication only antibiotics for possible infection at this stage.
Could not help myself today, after I had my shower I allowed myself one hour of freedom from the “suit”. I put on a light robe and walked around the house before work naked it was bliss. Still very bruised and swollen every part of my body but I love my new body.
Looking forward to my first MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) massage with the therapist which should help with the bruising swelling on the many areas of my body. These massages are bliss and are quite a a comfortable procedure, in fact quite relaxing and enjoyable. I am scheduled to have several more of these types of massages to assist the swelling and bruising until my body is healed over the next six weeks.
Still wearing the compression garment 2417, must admit I am getting tired of it is not the most comfortable item to sleep in but I am aware it has a vital role in aiding my recovery, so I am willing to make the sacrifice for beauty. I have noticed very dry skin on the lower half of my legs and some peeling on other areas of my body, but I put this down to the “non breathable fabric” on the compression garment. I just apply lots of body cream daily I found Sorbelene does the job nicely.
Yes, I am getting fed up wearing the compression garment, but it is necessary. Bruising now starting to look different…slowing fading but legs are still very numb and swollen still.
After my shower today, I tried on a “skinny black dress that I not worn for two years It looked amazing on my body. I almost cried as I just stared at myself in the mirror…is that really me? Also, I went back to the surgeon for check-up today. He is thrilled just as I am over the results but he cautions me and says we still have a long away to go, and that it could take up to twelve months to see the final results of liposuction surgery.
Still wearing compression garment 2417. It would be an understatement if I said I wasn’t sick and tired of wearing it but I am aware it is allowing the swelling to be reduced and assist the overall bruising especially on my legs. The surgeon suggests on this review visit that I now change to a different compression garment. This one is slightly lighter to wear and it frees my arms and top half of my body. I am able to wear my normal underwear and bras and this makes for easier to wear my normal clothes. I have also begun exercising again. This being I am taking a daily walk each day despite my legs still feeling numb. Did step onto my bathroom scales this week to find I had lost some weight 8 kgs !!! That’s a significant amount for someone of my age (56) and height (163cm) Am I thrilled with the result you bet !!!
SIX WEEKS POST OP
My legs still feel a bit lop heavy” and there is still areas of numbness, hips, back of arms and especially the front of my thighs. The surgeon said this is normal and the numbness may last for up to four months. Not much bruising left on my body, some areas still bruised top of thighs, hips, and around back area. Looking forward to re-starting my gym training as I have understood the importance of maintaining this “new” body and the liposuction was only the kick start of the transformation. The gym work will be vital in toning my body as the swelling subsides over the next few weeks. I am seriously thinking about buying my first bikini in years !!
SIX MONTHS POST OP
Progress so far, has been excellent, swelling all gone, no bruising and the numbness is greatly reduced. Toning through gym work and regular exercise has helped my body “bounce back” after such a radical surgery
A friend asked my recently “Any regrets, doing this surgery and going through with it all’? My answer: “It was the best thing I ever did for my body” !! Thank you Dr. Chan & the team at the Victorian Cosmetic Institute dreams do come true.
POSTSCIPT: Patient was in excellent health prior to surgery and within correct BMI for her age and height at the time of surgery.