In recent years, there has been a rising awareness of the condition called lipoedema (American spelling Lipoedema).
Lipoedema is a common chronic condition occurring in 1 in 11 women where they have significant fat accumulation, particularly around the thighs and legs.
What is lipoedema?
Although there is not currently a single cause for the condition, it has been found that lipoedema develops after a woman experiences a specific hormonal event. These events include puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or a combination of gynecologic surgeries.
It is a condition that is associated with the change in the lymphatic system, which over time causes deposition of fat and fluid in the thighs, lower legs, ankles, knees, and sometimes upper arms.
What are the symptoms of lipoedema?
Patients with lipoedema may be healthy body weight, though they are sometimes overweight, leading to a delay and confusion with the diagnosis. Patients are particularly troubled by excess fat in their lower limbs which is often reported to be very painful. The fat has a lumpy quality to it, and there is usually a sharp demarcation where the tissues return to average below the ankles (the feet are spared). There may be varicose veins or dilated capillaries, and the skin becomes soft, fragile, and bruises easily.
Over time, with the progression of the condition, there may be obstruction or damage to further lymphatics giving rise to fluid accumulation and eventually lymphodema (Lipo-lymphoedema or stage IV lipoedema)
Which doctors can treat Lipoedema?
Lipoedema is often misdiagnosed as lymphoedema, obesity or quite frequently other diseases. Patients who believe they might have Lipoedema should seek medical advice immediately to establish treatment options.
For appropriate patients, even if overweight, liposuction is one of the most suitable treatments for these women. The liposuction technique for patients with lipoedema differs from typical liposuction as it aims to minimise trauma remaining lymphatic channels which may become damaged with traditional liposuction. Typically water-assisted liposuction (WAL) is used to minimise fluid shifts and maximise liposuction volumes whilst preserving the valuable remaining lymphatics.
Patients may need several sessions of WAL since the volume of fluid and fat requiring removal often exceeds that which can be safely taken in one session. Typically treatment is staged to address the worst area first followed by other regions as required. The condition is also characterised by recurrence over time, and repeated WAL may be required top previously treated areas if symptoms recur.
Dr Mark Hanikeri offers a lipoedema consultation to help establish whether a diagnosis can be made. If so, discuss treatment options. The recovery from lipoedema is generally relatively fast.WAL is not painful in most cases though patients should typically expect to take at least two weeks off work, especially if their job is physically demanding. If you are interested in lipoedema treatment, please click here.
Lipoedema Treatment Perth
Dr Mark Hanikeri is a Perth plastic surgeon committed to helping patients navigate the process of receiving their surgery correctly and safely. He uses the Bodyjet Water assisted liposuction machine in treating patients with lipoedema.
If you are looking for treatment for lipoedema, please get in touch with us to book a consultation.