, FEBRUARY 3, 2007 (STAR) JUST BETWEEN YOU & ME By Jacquilou Blanco - The coming of age of medical tourism in the country was signaled in January last year when the Departments of Health and Tourism launched the Philippine Medical Tourism program. Their efforts were later bolstered in November with the holding of the First Philippine Medical Tourism Congress at the PICC.

St. Lukeís Medical Center is at the forefront, being the only full medical tourism partner of the DOH to date, upon which it conferred the Gintong Sigla Seal of Approval. To merit the Gintong Sigla, the facility should have passed the close scrutiny of the Joint Commission International (JCI), which sets the worldwide standards in the medical and healthcare professions. To date, St. Lukeís is the first and only JCI accredited healthcare facility in the Philippines.

In the areas of aesthetic surgery, St. Lukeís has opened its Aesthetic Surgery Center in response to the increasing demand of cosmetic surgery procedure in Asia, Europe and America. So many of our balikbayans come home not only to shop or go to resorts but to have some cosmetic surgery done because it is cheaper here than America or other parts of the world.

I asked the surgeons manning the center composed of all board certified plastic surgeons headed by Rene C. Velerio some questions:

What is the difference between aesthetic surgery and cosmetic surgery?

Both aesthetic and cosmetic surgeries are under the specialty of plastic surgery in general. Aesthetic surgery is performed to improve or enhance appearance altered by congenital anomalies, diseases and traumas, while cosmetic surgery is done to enhance or improve appearance that is considered normal but unattractive. and life more than anything else.

Is liposuction really dangerous?

All cosmetic surgery procedures, not only liposuction, carry possible risks and complications. So, it is very important that patients intelligently select board-certified plastic surgeons and the internationally-accredited facility where the procedure will be performed.

To whom would you recommend liposuction?

Liposuction is particularly well suited for men and women who are of relatively normal body weight but have isolated deposits of fat that cause certain areas of their body to appear disproportionate. These localized fat deposits may sometimes be an inherited trait and typically do not respond to dieting or exercise. Liposuction is often the only way to eliminate them.

Is it better for the obese to jumpstart their weight loss program with liposuction?

Liposuction should not be considered a substitute or jumpstart for overall weight loss program especially for obese patients. Liposuction is not effective, even as a last resort, for people who are unable to lose weight by dieting and exercise. Obese patients almost always regain the weight that is removed by liposuction unless there is a dramatic reduction in calorie intake (by dieting) or significant increase in calorie expenditure (by exercising). Whenever large volume liposuction has been used in attempt to jumpstart their weight-loss program, or treat obesity by surgery, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of serious surgical complications.

Have you had to do repair jobs on aesthetic and cosmetic surgeries done by others?

Yes. About 40 percent of our cases in cosmetic surgery are revisional or repair jobs. We send back the patients to the previous surgeons who have performed the operation.

What do you do if you believe that a procedure is not best for the patient but he insists on having it?

Even if the patient insists on having the procedure done which is not suited for him, we still donít proceed with the procedures. We just explain to him the reasons.

What are the latest procedures that you perform now?

The latest procedure that we perform now is endoscopic cosmetic surgery. The goals of endoscopic technique include reduction of scars and decrease in morbidity through limitation of dissection.

We now also perform noselift (rhinoplasty) with the use of the patientís own tissue like cartilage taken from the back of the ear. In our eyelidplasty (eye bag removal), we do fat preservation instead of fat resection, because it has been proven that removal of fat from the lower lid in an ageing patient will result in a more sunken eyeball appearance which is an obvious sign of ageing of the eye.

In breast augmentation, our conceptual goal is to enhance the form and volume of the female breast in the most predictable manner with the least possible complications.

Our tummy tuck procedure yields very natural body contour because of modern techniques using combined liposculpture and tummy tuck procedure.

Whatever it is that one wants done, on any part of the face or body, always remember to put your health and safety at top priority.

Before making any final decisions, check all your options. Be as well-informed as you possibly can.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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