In recent years, there has been a rising awareness of the condition called lipoedema.
Lipoedema (which is also spelt as Lipedema) is a common and chronic condition which occurs in 1 in 11 women. This condition causes 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 gynaecologic surgeries.
Lipoedema is a condition that is associated with the change in the lymphatic system. Over time, the deposition of fat and fluid occurs in several parts of the body. These include the thighs, lower legs, ankles, knees, and sometimes upper arms.
What are the symptoms of lipoedema?
Lipoedema patients may be at a healthy body weight, though they are also overweight sometimes. This can lead 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. This generally happens below the ankles, and 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 lymphoedema.
How do I treat lipoedema?
Lipoedema is often misdiagnosed as lymphoedema, a result of obesity or quite frequently other diseases. Patients who believe they might have lipoedema should seek medical advice immediately to establish treatment options.
Which doctors can treat Lipoedema?
For appropriate patients, even if overweight, liposuction is generally one of the most suitable treatments. The liposuction technique for patients with lipoedema in Australia differs from typical liposuction. This is because it aims to minimise trauma to the remaining lymphatic channels, which may become damaged with traditional surgical treatment such as 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 in previously treated areas if symptoms recur.
Visit a Lipoedema Specialist in Perth
Dr Mark Hanikeri offers a lipoedema consultation to help establish whether a diagnosis can be made. If so, discuss treatment options and potential surgical procedures. The recovery from lipoedema is generally fast. Water assisted liposuction is not painful in most cases, but patients should typically expect to take at least two weeks off work. This recovery time depends on your job.
If you are looking for treatment for lipoedema, Dr Mark Hanikeri may be able to help. He is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Perth who is 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.