Microlipo: We test out the new discreet surgical fix with NO anaesthetic or bruising
Is it possible to slim and reshape your body instantly without surgery? Notebook beauty editor Lynne Hyland trials a new, less invasive way to remove fat…
Thunder thighs. Muffin top. Hippo hips. We’ve all got THAT area we’d love to instantly slim down, right? For me it’s always been my bingo wings, ever since my gran remarked to me, aged 11, “You’ve got very chunky arms, don’t you?” Harsh, but true.
I’ve seriously considered liposuction but don’t like the idea of either general anaesthetic or my husband berating me for having full-on surgery for vanity. But what if there was a less invasive, less risky alternative I could have, ideally on the hush hush?
With that aim in mind, I’m headed to the Private Clinic to hear about Microlipo, their ultra-discreet alternative to liposuction. Pioneered in the States, it can suck out up to 3.5 litres of fat at a time, and all under local anaesthetic. The before and after pictures are ridiculously impressive.
The technical term is tumescent (in plain English: swollen) lipo because the area being treated is first pumped chock-full of saline, adrenalin and anaesthetic. The saline swells the fat cells, so they’re easier to suck out without damaging the surrounding tissue. The adrenalin stops the bleeding.
Dr Puneet Gupta, the only doctor in Europe trained by the technique’s US inventor, tells me: “Using local anaesthetic removes the biggest risks of traditional surgery.” Moreover, the claim of near-invisible incisions, virtually no downtime and minimal bruising removes the biggest risks of my husband realising exactly what his wife is up to.
Lynne with her arms pumped full of saline
Photograph by Lou Denim
Before the procedure, I’m given a chill pill which leaves me giddily relaxed while Dr Gupta marks me up then inflates my arms with litres of saline. The ballooning effect is so comical I feel like I’m wearing armbands.
Lynne during the op
Photograph by Lou Denim
Once my arms are totally numb, he inserts a tiny cannula, then commences plunging it vigorously like he’s unblocking a loo. There’s no pain, just a mild ‘eww’ moment as I register an orangey-red fatty liquid squirting into a beaker. Forty minutes later, it’s up to the litre mark. I’ll never look at a smoothie in the same way.
The fat in the beaker
Photograph by Lou Denim
Incidentally, you can opt to have your fat transferred to either your bum or bust rather than sent in the bin. Tempting though the thought of Kim Kardashian-worthy tush is, I decline this little add-on.
Finally, I’m bandaged up and hooked into a compression garment, which looks like an ugly bustier with sleeves. By now I’m feeling pretty hazy and glad to be getting a cab home. I’d planned to work from home afterwards but all I can manage is a few rambling emails before crashing out. Luckily, when my husband finishes work to discover me already asleep in bed, he assumes I’m being lazy.
THE NEXT DAY
Saturday morning, and time to change my dressings. When I peel off the compression garment, I realise my punctured arms are dripping watery blood all over the bedroom carpet. “What ARE you doing up there?” my husband shouts up the stairs, who’s still in the dark about what I’ve done. It’s tricky to re-dress the wounds without help and I make a hash of one arm. I’m on painkillers but still feel like I’ve overdone the tricep dips at the gym then been mugged on the way home.
Minimal bruising after the op
The compression sleeves are off. One arm has a few livid streaks of bruising around the elbow where I cocked up the dressing but the other is practically unscathed. The incision marks look like tiny mosquito bites and are no longer leaking. My arms do feel incredibly raw though, and the skin feels so tight it’s a struggle to get dressed.
Bruising has faded after three days
Monday morning, off the painkillers and into work. I’m amazed at how quickly the bruising has faded after just a day; with help from concealer I’m even able to wear short sleeves without anyone passing comment. There’s still a lot of undrained saline trapped by gravity at my elbows though, and if I raise my hands I can literally feel the wetness trickling down my arms… under my skin . It is a truly horrible sensation.
ONE WEEK ON
My arms feel seriously odd: numb on the surface and tender underneath. My husband has registered I’ve had some unspecified ‘body treatment’ (me wincing when he accidentally bumps my arm is a giveaway) but he’d never guess I’ve had anything as full-on as lipo. When he sees the tiny scabs on my arm he assumes they’re insect bites.
ONE MONTH ON
Puckering is a normal part of the process
The puffiness is deflating but there are still pockets of trapped fluid. I panic when I inspect my arms in the mirror and notice an ugly puckering of the skin when I tense my arms. The effect is somewhere between a stretchmark and cellulite. Cue panic: what HAVE I done? I rush to Dr Gupta who is quick to reassure me that this is all a normal part of the healing process although it may be several weeks before my skin is totally smooth again. The tenderness, he adds, may take up to ten months to disappear completely.
THREE MONTHS ON
The final results
Phew. The puckering has completely settled down and I can finally assess the full effects. I wouldn’t go as far to call this a ‘lunchtime’ treatment but it IS incredibly discreet and the actual downtime is very small. My husband still just thinks I had some kind of ‘body wrap’.
As for the results, well, I’d been warned that I wouldn’t see the dramatic transformation you’d get from treating an area like the stomach but to my mind, the difference is HUGE. I’m thrilled. My arms look leaner and more sculpted – I can physically feel how much their contour has changed – and the hated bulky, flabby area at the top is considerably slimmer.
The biggest difference of all though is psychological. I can finally look at pictures of myself in a sleeveless dress without mentally drawing of ring of shame around my triceps.