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What is Lipedema Surgery?

Lipedema surgery is the most effective treatment for lipedema, a poorly understood condition. There are several possible treatments for lipedema, but surgery is the longest-lasting. It involves undergoing liposuction on the affected limbs. While some people associate liposuction purely with cosmetic procedures, it can have a medical purpose too. For lipedema sufferers, it helps to reduce pain and improve mobility as it removes the diseased fat.

What Is Meant by Lipedema?

Around 11% of women worldwide suffer from lipedema, yet few people have heard of it. This progressive condition involves an abnormal build-up of painful fat on the lower body. Usually, it affects the legs, which take on a column-like shape. Interestingly, it doesn’t affect the feet, so a key sign is a cuff of fat at the ankle. The hips and buttocks often have abnormal fat accumulation, and some patients have affected arms. The torso is generally unaffected. That leads to a disproportionate appearance, with the upper body often several sizes smaller than the lower body.

Nobody knows for sure what causes lipedema. Experts now believe it probably has a genetic link as it seems to run in families. It’s likely also to have a hormonal connection as almost all sufferers are female. It usually first appears and worsens during times of hormonal change like puberty, menopause, and pregnancy.

Some common signs of the condition include heavy, painful legs that bruise easily. The fat also has an unusual texture, with nodules beneath the skin. These may feel like grains or rice, peas, or even walnuts depending on the stage of the disease.

Without treatment, lipedema continues to worsen and eventually will impact mobility. Sufferers begin to find it hard to exercise and, in some cases, even to walk around. That often results in sufferers becoming obese too.

Their disproportionate limbs, pain, and lack of mobility often lead to mental and emotional health problems. Sufferers frequently have low self-esteem and may suffer from anxiety and depression.

Which Treatments Are Available for Lipedema?

Both conservative and surgical treatments exist for lipedema, but currently, there’s no cure. Doctors tend to recommend conservative treatments first but these only address the symptoms, not the cause. They include manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) massage, wearing compression garments, exercising regularly, and eating healthy foods. These options help relieve pain in the short term but aren’t a long-term solution. They require ongoing maintenance, and the condition continues progressing throughout.

Surgery is a more drastic treatment, but it tackles the source of the problem – the diseased fat. Lipedema surgery involves liposuction of the affected limbs. It removes the fat cells and restores a more proportionate body appearance. As it removes the lipedema fat, it reduces pain and improves mobility too.

How Do Patients Prepare for Lipedema Surgery?

The first step is to have a consultation with a trusted specialist surgeon. They’ll review the patient’s medical history and assess their condition. They’ll also tell the patient what to do and what to avoid before surgery. For example, they can’t take certain medications, smoke, or vape. It’s essential to have realistic expectations of the surgery and to choose a skilled specialist with experience in the field.

What Is the Recovery Period After Surgery for Lipedema Like?

Immediately after surgery, patients will have some bruising, swelling, and pain. Over the first few weeks, these will reduce and eventually disappear. Patients must avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, bathing, swimming, and rigorous exercise. They must, however, eat healthy, stay hydrated, and take gentle exercise to boost blood flow. Wearing their compression garments is vital at all times. The surgeon will give the go-ahead when patients can return to normal activities.

Are There Any Potential Side Effects of Lipedema Surgery?

Bruising, pain, and swelling are all normal side effects after lipedema surgery. There are some other less common side effects that could occur. These include infections and tingling or numbness in the treated areas. Over time, these should improve.

What Are the Benefits of Liposuction for Lipedema?

Liposuction for lipedema improves the patient’s physical well-being by improving their mobility and reducing their pain. They can exercise more effectively and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long term. They also enjoy better emotional and mental health as their more proportionate body shape improves self-confidence. Surgery is a long-lasting treatment with benefits that usually last for years, improving patients’ quality of life.

Who Performs Lipedema Surgery?

A skilled and experienced cosmetic surgeon can perform lipedema surgery. However, it’s crucial to choose a professional with expertise in treating patients with lipedema. Dr. Su at ArtLipo in Tampa, Florida, is a top choice, thanks to his years of expertise in the field. He produces excellent results for his patients, as you can see in the before and after images in our gallery. Get in touch today to arrange your consultation.

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