15 February 2007

Big bums and micro-fat surgery

If you watched “Bootylicious” on TV, you are probably contemplating micro-fat surgery to have your buttocks enlarged. Here's why you shouldn't jump on the bandwagon too soon.

If you watched the TV programme called “Bootylicious”, you are probably contemplating micro-fat surgery to have your buttocks enlarged.

On the one hand it is refreshing that larger, well-shaped buttocks are in fashion. This is an improvement on the desire to make all women look like planks or skeletons. It also represents a more realistic approach to the female figure.

But the downside is that women who do not have perfect Jo-Lo buttocks are subjecting themselves to surgical interventions to achieve their desired shape.

Fat depots and why we have them
Our bodies in the 21st century are the product of millions of years of evolution. During these eons humans were most often exposed to conditions of severe famine, rather than plenty.

Consequently it was an evolutionary advantage to be able to store fat as an emergency food reservoir for those times when food was in short supply. Since women not only have to make provision for their own survival, but also for the survival of their infants and thus of the human race as a whole, women have larger fat depots and more body fat than men.

Fat distribution due to gender - A fact of life
Females have fat depots around their reproductive organs - the breasts, hips and pelvic region, including the buttocks, stomach and thighs.

Males tend to deposit fat on their necks and stomachs (the typical beer boep).

Average percentage body fat
The average percentage body fat in normal females who are not overweight varies from 20% to 25%. Of this percentage, 12% is classified as essential fat. This essential fat represents the extra 5% to 9% of sex-specific body fat in the breasts, pelvic area and thighs.

In normal-weight men the average percentage body fat equals 15% of which only 3% is classified as essential fat.

According to Prof Tim Noakes in his book ‘Lore of Running” even elite female athletes have twice as much body fat as their male counterparts, namely 10% vs. 5%. So if you are female and even if you exercise to total exhaustion, you will always have a higher body fat percentage than a male of the same weight and fitness. It is, therefore, senseless to try and alter your biology in an attempt to achieve body fat percentages that are impossible for women to attain.

Many people who are already bordering on underweight and/or anorexia want to know how they can reduce their body fat percentage to below 20%. The answer: stop punishing your body and take care that you do not become anorexic.

Big buttocks
The big buttocks trend is just another fashion fad. If you have curvaceous buttocks, enjoy the fact that you are in high fashion, but don’t start having your body fat redistributed by means of micro-fat surgery.

In the programme “Bootylicious” a young woman had this surgery performed on her body. The surgeon sucked fat out of parts of her body such as her waist and stomach and then injected this harvested fat into her buttocks to produce the Jo-Lo look.

Many people will probably regard this type of surgery as a dream come true and the answer to their most fervent desires. There are, however, disadvantages to micro-fat surgery, which you should keep in mind before rushing off to have your body resculpted.

Disadvantages of micro-fat surgery

  • Patients have to undergo a full anaesthetic, which is always associated with risks and can even be fatal in some cases
  • The procedure is associated with pain and discomfort
  • The procedure is very expensive and no medical aid will pay for it
  • The change in appearance is not instantaneous - it takes months for the swelling to go down
  • The body reabsorbs up to 50% of the redistributed fat over time, so the procedure is not permanent
  • Some patients may develop scarring and unsightly lumps and bumps in the areas that have been injected

My advice to women who want to change their appearance is:

  • Be realistic - are you trying to achieve impossible reductions in body fat percentage? If so, then you will either become anorexic or your attempts will be doomed to failure which will make you frustrated and bitter
  • Accept that you are a woman and that you have a higher body fat percentage than a man
  • Revel in your female shape, this is after all what attracts men to women
  • Think carefully of all the implications (physical, psychological and financial) before you go for buttock enlargement - after all, next year fashion may dictate that big bosoms are all the rage!

- (Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc


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