Sunday, 4 May 2014

Want to lose weight?

Numero uno: According to WHO, we're the fattest nation in South-East Asia. - WHO

Numero uno: According to WHO, we're the fattest nation in South-East Asia. - WHO

Of non-invasive weight and fat loss methods.

I’M not proud to say that Malaysians are a seriously overweight and obese lot.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Non-Communicable Disease Country Profile in 2011, Malaysians are the most obese amongst citizens of South-East Asian countries.

Our penchant for nasi lemak, roti canai and char koay teow explains why a staggering 44% of all Malaysians have a body mass index (BMI) of over 25, which is the criteria for being classified as overweight or obese.

The fact that most of us avoid exercise like the plague does not help matters.

It’s human nature to opt for the easy way out, which is why weight and fat loss treatments are amongst our local aesthetic clinics’ most sought after procedures.

An affordable, effective way of shedding the pounds is to take appetite suppresants containing phentermine. Phentermine is the active ingredient of a well-known brand of diet medicine.

This United States Food and Drug Authority (FDA) approved medicine is also a controlled item, meaning the patient would need to consult with a medical doctor each and every time before getting the prescription.

Phentermine works by reducing one’s appetite. That fragrant, mouth-watering fried chicken will suddenly seem less appetizing.

Those on phentermine might find themselves satiated, and even full, with a few spoonfuls of rice, whilst previously, they could easily wolf down a fourth helping at the buffet restaurant.

Since he or she is consuming much fewer calories, the body will utilise the person’s fat storage as fuel due to the calorie deficit.

I have seen clients losing eight kilograms, or even more, monthly when they are on phentermine. The heavier the person is to begin with, the more pounds he or she will lose when on this prescription drug.

Before starting the potential patient on this medicine, the friendly neighbourhood doctor will first take a complete medical history to ascertain that there are no contraindications such as heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Those who are only slightly overweight are not suitable for this drug, as dieting and exercising alone will probably reduce those extra few kilos.

Next, the physician will conduct a thorough physical examination. The patient’s weight, waist measurement, body fat percentage and blood pressure is recorded during each visit.

Instead of getting the patient to just completely rely on the medicine, we doctors would advise the patient about healthy eating habits and exercise routines. The results are much better if our clients are committed to helping themselves in the long run.

Most doctors will give a month’s supply of phentermine to their patient and get them to come back for subsequent monitoring.

We would track the patient’s weight loss progress regularly, besides ensuring that he or she does not have intolerable side effects, such as hand tremors, palpitations, insomnia, feeling thirsty or mood swings.

Additional phentermine may be prescribed if the patient needs to lose more weight.

Losing weight is not the most difficult part of weight loss; maintaining the result after stopping the drug is.

Once taken off the medicine, appetite goes back to normal and it may be difficult for some to resist the temptation of that heavenly buffet spread or the latest delicacy, especially after being deprived of such tantalizing yummies for a period of time.

We remind our patients that they will need to continue practising healthy eating habits and slog away at the threadmill regularly even after discontinuing the medicine to maintain the results.

Some clients are keen to lose their belly, love handles and back fat bulges, but are not keen to go under the knife. Liposuction may give excellent, significant results, but it comes with the risk of anaesthesia, scarring, discomfort, swelling and time taken off from regular daily activities or work.

Wearing a stifling compression garment for the subsequent months may also not be some people’s cup of tea.

An exciting development in non-invasive body contouring and fat loss is selective radiofrequency. Called Vanquish, this machine was launched last year to many good reviews by clients.

The Vanquish system is a non-invasive, non-contact procedure that heats fat over the treated area at a temperature of 40-45°C.

At this temperature, the fat cells are damaged and undergo a process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death, whilst the surrounding tissue remains unaffected.

Fat cells that reach and maintain the desired therapeutic temperature will slowly die off within the next few months and be removed by the body’s immune system.

The result is a safe and natural decrease in the adipose tissue layer.

The procedure is done once a week for at least four sessions. Each session takes half an hour and covers the tummy and love handles or the back.

Clinical studies show that the Vanquish procedure produces visible, measurable results with high client satisfaction.

The technology is suitable for those who are of normal weight or slightly overweight individuals who have pockets of fat that are resistant to exercise and dieting.

For example, many ladies develop an unsightly pouch below the belly button after pregnancy. Men may notice love handles, which simply refuse go away when they are middle-aged.

These are examples of ideal candidates for this new radiofrequency treatment. The Vanquish is not a weight-loss procedure as one will not lose many pounds. Rather, it is an “inch-loss” or body-contouring procedure.

Phentermine and Vanquish are just examples of the various fat reduction methods that aesthetic doctors can employ. Many new fat-busting technologies are being developed as we speak, and a day may come in the future when everyone can afford to look fabulously slim if they so desire.

Enough of writing from me this time. Now hand me that awesome bar of Kit Kat.

> Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping expresso latte when he’s not attending to his beloved patients. For further information, e-mail The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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