Lipoedema is a fairly unknown condition, however many women are affected by it, often unbeknownst to them. Most will have sought help via their GP, but were told to just lose weight. The condition does not respond to weight loss or exercise and thus patients become really frustrated.
Research has shown that early intervention minimises the progression and it can actually halt the process.
The most common areas that are affected are the thighs, knees, calves, ankles and upper arms. It is predominantly seen in females (11% of the population) with very little incidence in males. It can begin at any age, but commonly seen in late teens. Many doctors and nurses are untrained in recognising the condition and thus many women go undiagnosed.
It is not to be confused with LYMPHOEDEMA – which is swelling of the extremities due to lack of lymph drainage. The two however can co-exist as Lipo-lymphoedema.
What is the cause of Lipoedema?
At this stage there is very little scientific research that has been published in the causation of the condition, but there are various theories, which include female predominance, genetics, hormones (and their fluctuations), lifestyle, environmental, diet. All of these may have some role to play, but may not been the only causation. Hormonal influence is most likely a strong contender as the beginning of symptoms is often related to time frames like puberty, pregnancy, menopause.
What are the symptoms and signs of Lipoedema?
- Lower torso heavy compared to upper half
- Heaviness and discomfort of the legs or arms
- You have a small waist, but large hips and thighs
- Excess weight not apparent on hands and feet
- You can lose weight from your upper body, but not your lower
- You bruise easily
- You recognise a similar body shape in other family members
- The condition can remain stagnant or progress from stages 1-3.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Reducing the bulk of front, outer and inner thighs can make a significant difference in the silhouette and profile of a torso. Functional improvement is also noted with less rubbing together of the inner thighs.
VASER lipo is ideal to reduce the bulk and create some skin tightening.
The procedure can be done under local anaesthetic or twilight sedation as a day case walk-in/ walk-out.
Who is the treatment best suited for?
Stage I or II lipoedema is suited. The skin elasticity needs to be assessed at the consultation. If there is too much laxity in the skin then a thigh lift may be required.
Bulky calves with little muscle definition can make the lower legs look very stocky. Many women are self-conscious when wearing boots or high heels.
Clearing away some fatty tissue just above the ankle bones can give more definition and clearly separates the ankles form the calves.
What treatment can be used?
VASER or Mirco-lipo can be used to sculpt the lower leg and remove the “cankle” appearance.
What is the Procedure of the Treatment?
It is performed as a day case under local anaesthetic or twilight sedation. You will need to wear compression garment for 4-6 weeks. MLD is imperative to reduce the swelling.
The knees can be affected at various anatomical sites. Most commonly on the inner side of the knee. Other areas are above or below the knee in small pockets.
Often the knees are treated with the front of thighs or ankles in combination.
What is the Treatment?
It is performed as a day case procedure under local anaesthetic. Recovery is swift over a few days wearing the compression tights. It is recommended to have MLD massage to reduce the swelling and possibility of lumps.
Lipoedema of the Arms
Lipoedema of the arms affects mainly the upper part of the arm. The accumulation of fat is commonly distributed from elbow to armpit. The arm has a characteristic bingo-wing shape.
VASER can successfully reduce the bulk and also tighten the skin in most cases. This can be done under local anaesthetic as a day case. If there is too much excess skin then an armlift is the only option.
Who is the treatment best suited for?
Anyone where there is not too much skin laxity.