Lipedema is a surprisingly common condition that affects around 11 percent of women. It occurs if fat becomes distributed irregularly under the skin. Usually, the fat accumulates in the legs and buttocks. While it starts as simply a cosmetic problem, over time, it causes pain, as well as other problems. It can be difficult to get a lipedema diagnosis. Some doctors are, as yet, quite unfamiliar with the condition. They may, therefore, diagnose patients as having lymphedema or obesity instead. Yet, getting an early diagnosis is imperative. The earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome for the patient. So, if you have just received a lipedema diagnosis, what happens next?
Lipedema Symptoms and Causes
The most common symptoms of lipedema are a larger lower body and column-like legs. Bruising is common, and the legs feel tender. Very disproportionate women, such as a size 8 upper body and size 16 lower body, may have lipedema. At first, it’s easy to think that you simply have fat legs. Yet, the fat will fail to respond to diet and exercise. If left untreated, the condition will progress. The fat will continue to accumulate, and the lower body will get heavier. At later stages, the fat can even begin to accumulate on the arms, too.
No one knows what causes lipedema. However, some experts suspect that female hormones have a role to play. Women suffer from this condition the most. It usually starts during puberty or becomes worse at this time. It also often arises during pregnancy, after having gynecologic surgery or at menopause. It may also be genetic. Some women who suffer from it have other family members who also have the condition.
What Kinds of Treatments Are There?
If you have just received a lipedema diagnosis, it’s natural to be worried about what happens next. What kinds of treatments are available, and do they work? There are several options doctors may recommend to patients with lipedema. Some are more effective than others.
The main treatment doctors suggest complete decongestive therapy. This can ease the painful symptoms associated with the condition. This therapy involves two separate elements. The first is manual lymphatic drainage. This is a type of massage that uses gentle, rhythmic pumping movements. It stimulates lymph flow through the blocked areas toward the healthy vessels. Then, it can drain into the venous system, thus relieving pain and preventing fibrosis. The second part of the treatment is compression. This uses custom-fitted shorts, panties or pantyhose or stretch bandages. They increase the tissue pressure inside the legs. This reduces the chance of fluid accumulating again. Patients are also advised to exercise gently to reduce the buildup of fluids and improve their mobility.
Is There A Better Option?
Unfortunately, complete decongestive therapy doesn’t treat lipedema itself. It only helps to relieve the symptoms. There is, however, a better option – liposuction. This is the only option that can treat the condition effectively. Liposuction of the legs removes the fat cells permanently. By using a cannula under the skin, a surgeon can suction out fat tissue. If you have received a lipedema diagnosis, it could be the right choice for you.
Contact Artlipo today to find out more about how we could help treat your problem. We are experts at carrying out lipedema liposuction and can help you find lasting relief.
Dr. Thomas Su, is the owner and cosmetic surgeon of Artistic Lipo. He has led our full-time clinic specializing in awake-only liposuction since 2007. Dr. Su began his medical career in internal medicine, practicing that until 2005, when he began to provide a full spectrum of non-invasive cosmetic procedures.