Lipedema is an often misunderstood medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by an abnormal accumulation of fat in the lower body, typically the hips, thighs, and legs. While this condition does not typically cause any health problems, it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Liposuction is one of the most common treatments for lipedema, but there are risks associated with this procedure that should be considered before undergoing it.
What is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a chronic medical condition characterized by an abnormal distribution of fat tissue, primarily in the legs and buttocks. It affects up to 11 percent of women, although it can occur in men as well. It often occurs with other conditions such as obesity and lymphedema. The primary symptom of lipedema is symmetrical swelling that occurs in the lower limbs and usually extends from the hips down to the ankles. This swelling may or may not be accompanied by pain.
Although it may be difficult to differentiate between lipedema and obesity, lipedema is a distinct disorder and requires different treatment. Treatments for lipedema include manual lymphatic drainage, compression garments, and plastic surgery, with high volume liposuction being the most effective. However, there are risks associated with all treatments.
What Causes Lipedema?
Lipedema is an unusual and often misdiagnosed condition that affects women of all sizes. It is characterized by the accumulation of fat deposits on the thighs, legs, and buttocks, which can be accompanied by swelling, discoloration, and pain. The cause of lipedema is still unclear; however, it is thought to be due to genetic factors or hormonal changes. It is also possible that a trauma to the affected area may trigger lipedema in some individuals.
High volume liposuction has been proposed as a possible treatment for lipedema. During liposuction, a plastic surgeon will use a cannula to remove excess fat cells from the targeted area. The amount of fat removed depends on the amount of excess fat tissue in the targeted area. While liposuction can help reduce the size of the fatty deposits in the affected areas, it does not address any of the underlying causes of lipedema. Therefore, it is important to understand the risks associated with this procedure before undergoing treatment.
The potential risks of high volume liposuction include infection, scarring, bleeding, nerve damage, numbness, bruising, and uneven results. In addition, there is a risk of developing fat necrosis, which occurs when fat cells die and form hard nodules beneath the skin. This can lead to further discomfort or pain. Additionally, if too much fat is removed during liposuction, the area may become misshapen or contour irregularities may occur.
Overall, it is important to understand both the benefits and risks associated with high volume liposuction before making a decision about treatment for lipedema.
What are the Risks of Lipedema?
Lipedema is a chronic, symmetrical and progressive disorder of adipose tissue that affects the legs and, sometimes, the arms. It is marked by disproportionate enlargement of the lower body and can be accompanied by lymphedema and pain. Because of its chronic nature, there is no cure for lipedema. However, treatments are available to manage the symptoms.
Unfortunately, many of the available treatments pose their own risks. Liposuction, one of the most common treatments, involves removing fat from the affected areas and can have some side effects. These may include swelling, bruising, infection, contour irregularities, numbness or nerve damage, and scarring. Plastic surgery may be required to fix these issues. There is also a risk of developing additional lymphedema after liposuction.
Other treatments for lipedema, such as compression garments and manual lymphatic drainage, may cause minor skin irritation or discomfort. People who are considering treatment should consult with their doctor to discuss potential risks and benefits.
Which Treatment Option is Right for Me?
When it comes to treating lipedema, there are several options available. Many patients find that lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, can be effective in reducing their symptoms. However, for those who are looking for more dramatic results, plastic surgery is an option.
Plastic surgery for lipedema is generally done with liposuction or tumescent liposuction. With liposuction, fat is removed using a small cannula and a suction device. Tumescent liposuction is a newer form of the procedure and involves the use of local anesthesia and tiny incisions. With either method, fat is removed from specific areas of the body to reduce the appearance of lipedema.
Before undergoing plastic surgery for lipedema, patients should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their doctor. Plastic surgery has its own associated risks, such as infection, scarring, nerve damage, and blood clots. It’s important to weigh these risks against the potential benefits before making a decision.
In some cases, doctors may recommend other treatments in addition to plastic surgery. These treatments may include massage, compression therapy, and specialized diets to help reduce swelling and improve circulation.
Ultimately, the best treatment option will depend on each individual’s specific needs and goals. Your doctor can help you make an informed decision about the best course of action for you
Contact Marietta, Georgia Plastic Surgeon Dr. Paul McCluskey at the Plastic Surgery Institute of Atlanta for a Consultation
Serving patients in and around Marietta, Atlanta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Morningside/Lenox Park, Virginia-Highland, Candler Park, Midtown, Inman Park, Poncey-Highland, Ormewood Park, Georgia and other surrounding areas.