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Women spending thousands to lose weight

Health & Science - By Standard Digital | November 1st 2011 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

How far will women go in the pursuit for the desirable elusive trim figure? HAROLD AYODO explores

Carole Adhiambo holds her sagging belly in disgust. The mother of two has vowed to get rid of the stomach flab, at whatever cost.

So last week, following a tip from her colleague about a new laser treatment being offered in a facility at Yaya Centre, Nairobi, Carole did not hesitate to try her luck.

The procedure didn’t disappoint. In an hour at a cost of Sh30,000, she had lost 5.4 centimetres off her waistline.

"I developed a mean sagging belly after delivery of my second child two years ago. I tried dieting, the gym and swimming, without much success," Adhiambo says.

"I am just from my second session today and the doctor says I have about five more to go and I will be back to my former self," confides Adhiambo. In other words, Adhiambo ‘s budget for weight loss is Sh210,000 for seven sessions.

Despite the costs, women are trooping to the facility called Slim Clinique in the hopes of getting their sexy back.

Another client, Maryanne Mutiso, resolved to give the hyped procedure a try after trying assorted pills and injections to get her figure back, but in vain.

"It has been a battle that has led me into spending a lot of money without visible results, but this new technology is working for me," Mutiso says.

Patricia Kamau wants to quickly lose her flabby stomach in order to fit into her wedding dress this December.

"I have not missed any of my fortnightly sessions as prescribed and now I have two more to go and I’m already comfortable in my wedding dress," Patricia announces proudly.

Today, Slim Clinique has a client waiting list two weeks long.

Slim Clinique cosmetic laser surgeon Dr Pranav Pancholi says the new treatment uses ultra sound and advanced Radio Frequency (RF) technology and the results are immediate.

"It is a non-invasive treatment that ensures tighter, smoother and rejuvenated skin firmness with a toned youthful look," explains Dr Pancholi, adding that the procedure, referred to as Accent your Body Dual-Layer Thermotherapy, promotes healthy collagen production and improves the body contours.

He notes that the treatment is quick and doesn’t require anaesthesia, with patients resuming their daily activities immediately. A session takes 45 minutes depending on the size of the treatment area and the whole treatment is spread over two weeks.

Post-treatment care entails drinking two glasses of water immediately and at least eight to ten glasses of water a day for three days. However, excessive exercise, sweating, hot baths or saunas are prohibited for at least three days after the treatment.

Consumption of alcoholic drinks is also prohibited for three days as it can drain water from the body and skin.

Laser technology is the latest slimming technology to hit the Kenyan market, slowly edging out liposuction, cosmetic surgery, mostly preferred by wealthy women. The change has been occasioned by the fact that liposuction is a medical procedure, which may be performed under local anaesthesia and its safety depends on the overall health of the patient.

But a side effect of liposuction is that unusual dents may be visible on the body when the doctor suctions excess fat during the procedure.

At the same time, the more fat removed, the higher the surgical risk.

Other side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue or dizzy spells.

Ironically, majority of the women trying this new slimming option first started with the gym. According to fitness consultant Bob Otieno, some women spend up to Sh120,000 per year on physical fitness. "They (wealthy women) go to gyms in classy hotels, which have additional incentives like a warm pool, jacuzzi, sauna and in-house restaurants," Otieno says. According to him, some middle class women spend up to Sh45,000 annually for gym and aerobics alone.

"Gym facilities in five-star hotels are a favourite amongcorporate women," he says.

According to Otieno, the costs of the training often shoot when services of a personal trainer are paid for.

"Most personal trainers charge between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000 per session (45 minutes), depending on the gym," Otieno says.

But gyms are obviously the less sensational options. Assorted weight loss pills that are bought over the counter are also gaining popularity despite their exorbitant cost of about Sh15,000 for eight tablets.

Local doctors who preferred anonymity and researchers from the US concur that majority of weight loss drugs are unsafe despite their ability to speed up metabolism.

For instance, Brookhaven National Laboratory medical research chairman Dr Gene-Jack Wang says weight loss cannot be that easy when using pills.

"Weight loss stimulants speed up metabolism but can cause strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular problems," Dr Wang says on a medical site on CNN.com.

Another researcher at the University of South Carolina, USA clinical assistant Professor Patricia Powel, says in a study that side effects —including high blood pressure — are associated with the pills.

Therefore, as women shun the good old methods of losing weight, they need to be aware that they may be courting endless health complications.

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