Explained: What is the ‘fat-free’ surgery that allegedly killed Kannada actor Chethana Raj?


Looks can kill or in this case, the attempt to look a certain way led to death.

A 21-year-old Kannada television actor, Chethana Raj, died following post-operative complications after she underwent a ‘fat removal’ surgery at a private hospital in Bengaluru on Monday.

Reports say that Chethana, who was being body-shamed, had gone to Dr Shetty’s Cosmetic Clinic in Bengaluru’s Rajajinagar for a ‘fat-free’ surgery, without telling her parents. Her friend had signed her consent form.

After the procedure, there was accumulation of fluid in her lungs and she was rushed to Kaade Hospital, where according to a statement, efforts were made to revive for 45 minutes, without any results.

Chethana’s parents have filed a case of medical negligence against Dr Shetty’s Cosmetic Clinic, alleging that the private clinic had violated rules by not taking their consent before the surgery and the procedure was done in an ICU that lacked proper facilities.

Her father, Varadaraju, was quoted as telling News Minute, “My daughter died due to the negligence of the hospital. The doctors have conducted surgery without parental consent and without proper equipment. My daughter was hale and hearty. She was absolutely fine. She had gone to hospital with her friends.”

Speaking to NDTV, he added, “Without any precautions, they conducted this surgery. The doctors should have suggested a surgery only if there was a real need for removal of fat. It was her friend who signed the consent form before she was taken into surgery.”

The tragic loss of Chethana, who had acted in popular serials such as Geetha, Doresaani, Olavina Nildana, has once again brought the spotlight on these cosmetic surgery and the risks involved in them.

We give you the answers you are looking for.

What is this ‘fat-free’ surgery?

The surgery that Chethana opted for at Dr Shetty’s Cosmetic Clinic is better known as liposuction. In this surgical procedure, a suction technique is used to remove the fat from specific areas of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, arms or neck.

Other names for liposuction include lipoplasty and body contouring.

MedicalNewsToday explains that in this type of surgeries the fat is removed through a hollow instrument, known as a cannula. This is inserted under the skin. A powerful, high-pressure vacuum is applied to the cannula.

Most medical websites state that liposuction isn’t typically considered an overall weight-loss method or a weight-loss alternative.

Dr Adhishwar Sharma, Senior Consultant, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, reiterates this fact. Speaking to Hindustan Times, he says, “People with near ideal weight and who have got little fat excess and want to get rid of that are candidates for liposuction. Some people are selling liposuction as a cure for obesity. No it is not.”

The Mayo Clinic explains that liposuction reduces the number of fat cells in a specific area. The amount of fat removed depends on the appearance of the area and the volume of fat. The resulting contour changes are generally permanent — as long as your weight remains stable.

After liposuction, the skin moulds itself to the new contours of the treated areas. If you have good skin tone and elasticity, the skin is likely to appear smooth. If your skin is thin with poor elasticity, however, the skin in the treated areas may appear loose.

Liposuction doesn’t improve cellulite dimpling or other skin surface irregularities. Likewise, liposuction doesn’t remove stretch marks.

Liposuction, despite its risks and the pain involved, continues to be one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the world.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons report that even in the pandemic year of 2020, more than 210,000 liposuction procedures were performed in the US, a trend that reinstates its popularity.

Are these procedures risky?

Those who opt for liposuction have to undergo general anaesthesia and as with any other major surgery, there are risks involved. One also has to contend with pain after the procedure. Doctors state that recovery can be painful after liposuction.

Complications emerging from liposuction range from severe bruising and inflammation to very serious ones such as thrombophlebitis — a blood clot forms in a vein, causing inflammation and further complications, kidney or heart problems — as fluids are being injected and or suctioned, the change in the body’s fluid levels may cause kidney or heart problems, pulmonary embolism in which fat gets into the blood vessels and travels to the lungs, blocking the circulation in the lungs or in most serious cases — death.

Although the procedure is considered to be safe, a survey conducted in the US in 2000 found that the incidence of death among those who undergo liposuction was higher than fatality rates among victims of road accidents.

What precautions should one take?

When going under the knife, educating yourself about the procedure and risks, and clearing the doubts with the doctor will help one to reduce the risk of complications.

Be totally open about your medical history with the doctor and inform about all past surgeries or sicknesses and even about allergic reactions.

Also ensure that you opt for a reputed surgeon and those who have the proper accreditation.

Doctors say that those opting for these surgeries will have to give up on smoking and alcohol and avoid doing any heavy activities or driving.

With inputs from agencies

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Explained: What is the ‘fat-free’ surgery that allegedly killed Kannada actor Chethana Raj?
Explained: What is the ‘fat-free’ surgery that allegedly killed Kannada actor Chethana Raj?
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