Lipedema surgery is the only way to address the cause of this condition. Lipedema is a disease of the subcutaneous fat. It causes abnormal fibrosis in the subcutaneous fat tissues. Fibrotic scarring (or fibrosis) is when connective tissues replace normal tissue. Over time, permanent scar tissue forms. Lipedema fat fibrosis gives the tissue a nodular, hard feeling when you touch it. Normal fat has a fluffy, soft texture. Lipedema fat is uneven and firm, with nodules that you can directly feel under the skin surface. These nodules characterize lipedema but can surgery get rid of them?
Diagnosing Lipedema Through the Presence of Nodules
Medical professionals still often struggle to diagnose lipedema in their patients. Doctors don’t always understand the disease. Many women with the condition receive an incorrect diagnosis of obesity or lymphedema. However, one symptom that specialists look for is fat nodules. Fat nodules may occur with some other diseases. Obesity and cellulite both present with fat nodules in some cases. However, if no nodules are present, then it is impossible to diagnose a patient with lipedema.
Also Read: Is Lipedema Surgery A Permanent Cure?
Lipedema Nodules at Different Stages of the Disease
The fat nodules resulting from lipedema look and feel different at each stage of the disease. Lipedema is a progressive condition. Without treatment, it gets worse over time. Patients begin at Stage 1 and progress through to Stage 3 or 4. Each stage is more severe than the last, and the symptoms are more debilitating. At an early stage of the disease, it may be difficult to identify fat nodules. As the disease progresses, though, the nodules become more noticeable and more significant.
Patients with Stage 1 lipedema have nodules that are the same size as small seeds or peas. They are like tiny pearls beneath the skin. They can often be felt but not seen.
At Stage 2, the fat nodules become larger. They feel similar to walnuts or gumballs under the skin. Not only can you feel them, but you can probably see them too.
By the time a patient reaches Stage 3, they may have some nodules that are plum-sized. Others may be the size of walnuts, while there will also be some that are pearl-sized.
How Can Lipedema Nodules Be Removed?
It is possible to remove lipedema nodules through surgery. However, the extent of the surgery required varies depending on the stage of the disease. At Stage 1, lipedema liposuction is capable of removing the fat nodules effectively. For many patients at Stage 2, liposuction is capable of removing all the nodules too. In some cases, though, manual extraction of the nodules may be necessary. Once a patient is at Stage 3, lipedema liposuction is extremely beneficial in removing the diseased fat. Manual extraction will probably be necessary for the larger nodules, though.
What Does Lipedema Liposuction Involve?
Lipedema liposuction is a very effective way to treat the condition. Unlike conservative treatment options, it addresses not only the symptoms but also the cause itself. By removing the diseased fat, liposuction helps to improve the quality of life of the patient.
Liposuction to treat lipedema is, essentially, the same surgery as that used for cosmetic improvements. For lipedema patients, though, the surgery is medical and not cosmetic. Rather than focusing on sculpting the body through fat removal, lipedema lipo focuses on removing fat to reduce pain.
Surgeons perform the procedure under a local anesthetic. They make tiny incisions in the areas they will treat, i.e., the legs and possibly the arms. They pass a narrow tube into the incisions to break the excess fat up. They then suction out the diseased fat. The patient benefits from reduced pain and improved mobility. As the body is more proportionate, they receive a self-esteem boost too. After liposuction, lipedema patients can be more active and more confident.
What Does Manual Extraction Involve?
Manual extraction of lipedema nodules is a procedure that surgeons perform alongside liposuction. Liposuction removes most of the diseased fat. However, adherent nodules and those that are extra-large require more intensive treatment. Manual extraction involves making a small incision over the nodule. The surgeon then gently milks the nodule out of the patient’s skin.
Seeking Surgery for Lipedema
If you believe you suffer from lipedema, it is imperative to get a diagnosis as quickly as possible. If you’ve already received a diagnosis, having surgery as soon as you can is key to slowing the disease’s progression. Lipedema only gets worse over time. If it remains untreated, it will progress and become more painful and more debilitating. If you’re at Stage One or Two at the moment, getting surgery can help prevent more severe symptoms from developing.
When arranging lipedema surgery, it’s essential to find a skilled surgeon with a specialism in this field. Dr. Su at ArtLipo is an excellent choice, and he can help to significantly improve your quality of life.
Dr. Hamwi is an aesthetic plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic surgical and non-invasive procedures. After completing residencies in both plastic surgery and general surgery as well as a fellowship at Harvard University, Dr. Hamwi then went on to pursue an aesthetic surgery fellowship at one of the country’s most competitive programs in Manhattan, New York. Less than one percent of plastic surgeons have completed such specialized training.