By Salma Khalik and Francis Chan
THE chief executive of a $1 billion property firm died last week, following cosmetic treatment at an Orchard Road clinic.
On Dec 30, 44-year-old Franklin Heng was ferried by ambulance from the clinic to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
TTSH chief executive Lim Suet Wun said the case has been referred to the coroner.
'The patient came from a GP clinic and had had liposuction done earlier that afternoon,' he told The Straits Times.
Although Mr Heng showed no signs of life when he arrived at the hospital just after 5pm, doctors spent almost an hour attempting to resuscitate him, said Dr Lim.
A spokesman for the Health Ministry also said it was investigating the matter.
She added: 'As this is a coroner's case and investigations are ongoing, we are unable to comment further on the case.'
Citing the same reason, family members also declined comment.
Coroners investigate cases where the circumstances surrounding a death are unclear or the cause of death cannot be immediately ascertained.
Late last night, police said they had classified the case as one of unnatural death, and are investigating.
Mr Heng was the CEO of YTL Pacific Star, a property management firm, which among other things manages the Starhill Global Reit.
He was credited with growing the reit's portfolio from just stakes in shopping malls Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City, to 10 properties around the region.
A close friend of Mr Heng, who did not want to be named, said the divorcee and father of two was concerned about 'love-handles' although he appeared to be 'fit, trim and in the pink of health'.
It was not his first visit to the GP clinic, according to a security officer at the building where the clinic is based.
The security officer, who was on duty on the day of Mr Heng's final visit, said the ambulance arrived at about 4pm and 'the man was still alive when the ambulance left for the hospital'.
Official records show that the clinic is a two-man practice registered about six months ago.
Its website says its two doctors have together carried out more than 500 Vaser Liposelection procedures and 100 High Definition Vaser procedures.
- Official records show that the clinic is a two-man practice registered about six months ago.
- Its website says its two doctors have together carried out more than 500 Vaser Liposelection procedures and 100 cases of High Definition Vaser. Treatment in the 'tummy area' costs at least $3,000.
- When asked about the doctors' qualifications, the staff said they were both dermatologists - or specialists in skin problems.
- But a check with the Singapore Medical Council registry shows them both listed as general practitioners with diplomas in dermatology.
These treatments remove 'deep and superficial fat' followed by a 'detailed sculpting process', it explains.
Straits Times checks found that it costs at least $3,000 for treatment in the 'tummy area'. The procedure takes about three hours at the clinic.
Several attempts to contact the doctor who performed the treatment at both his clinic and his registered home address drew a blank.
Requests to speak to him were met with responses such as 'He's not here', and 'I don't know where he is - we don't have our doctors' schedules'.
Asked about the doctors' qualifications, the clinic's staff said they were both dermatologists - or specialists in skin problems.
But a check with the Singapore Medical Council registry of doctors shows them both listed as general practitioners with diplomas in dermatology.
Liposuction has acquired a variety of names, including lipodissolve and liposelection, while the procedures and solutions used, as well as the amount of fat removed, may vary.
But essentially, the process involves injecting a solution to dissolve fat in certain areas of the body. This fat is then removed through a tube inserted through a small incision.
Complications could arise if a patient has underlying conditions, such as a weak abdominal wall, which the doctor is not aware of. This could result in a tear that would require immediate surgery to correct. An inexperienced doctor might also puncture a vital organ, resulting in internal bleeding.
In 2008, the ministry introduced new regulations following debate on whether doctors who are not plastic surgeons should be allowed to perform certain invasive cosmetic treatments.
Among other things, such doctors must now confine themselves to removing no more than one litre of fat from a person at each session. They also need additional staff to monitor the patient
» CEO's death: Clinic barred from liposuction
» Beware sub-standard liposuction by unqualified doctors
» The liposuction process
» Fat hopes
» 5 medical clinics barred from performing liposuction
» MOH issues new rules for liposuction
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