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.
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.
The condition can remain stagnant or progress from stages 1-3.
See the 3 stages below:
There is no direct ”CURE” for the condition. We can however treat the disproportionate areas of fatty deposition and improve function and mobility.
It is important not to only focus on the affected areas, but also make sure that your whole well-being is addressed.
Keeping fit is also essential and watching what you eat. Diet has a massive impact on fluid retention, metabolism, weight maintenance etc.
MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) is a good start. This will help with drainage and swelling of the areas. Wearing compression hosiery is also helpful.
There are numerous techniques that can be used to remove the excess tissue, but we use TUMESCENT VASER and MICRO liposuction to reduce the bulk. We have had excellent success with treating many patients who have reported improvement in mobility and function. In most cases there is also an improvement in aesthetic appearance.
Essentially any method that removes the fat via suction can be used. Over the last few decades many new power assisted techniques have become available. Previously only the traditional old style liposuction was available. That has now been superseded with newer techniques. When we talk about power assisted we mean that the tissue is “prepared” before it is removed. By this we mean that some form of energy source (light, heat, ultrasound, water-jet) is used to either break the tissue down or “melt” it. This then makes the removal easier as the suction intensity can be reduced and this in turn has an effect on minimising the damage to the surrounding structures (such as nerves, blood vessels, lymph system). This also shortens recovery as there is less trauma to the surrounding tissue.
Traditional liposuction relies in the cheese-grating effect of the cannula which is very traumatic and hence most patients end p very bruised and in lots of discomfort.
Radiofrequency – BodyTite (RFAL)
Water Jet – Water Jet, Body Jet (WAL), uses a high pressure water jet to dislodge the fat cells.
LASER lipo – uses laser
SmartLipo – uses laser
CoolLipo – uses laser
The word tumescence stems from the Latin word “tumere” – to swell. During tumescent liposuction the tissue is infiltrated with fluid – usually anaesthetic fluid. This has numerous benefits – it engorges the tissue which makes it easier to remove, it constricts the tiny blood vessels which results in less bleeding and bruising, it causes numbness which allows us to perform the procedure under local anaesthetic. The fluid is also an essential medium to disperse ultrasound or heat energy when used in conjunction with power assisted liposuction.
That’s all tumescence means. It is not the type of liposuction, but the fact that fluid is used to engorge the fat tissue.
There is a fantastic booklet with a wealth of information and guidance.
Answer: Currently there is no medication to treat Lipoedema.
Answer: Yes, MLDuk.org.uk , Lipoedema.co.uk , Lipoedemaladies.com , @Lipoedemauk on Twitter , @lipoedemaladies on Twitter
Answer: Generally if there is any doubt about the skin retraction Dr Wolf will advise you.
Answer: Yes it can, however, with regular MLD and wearing compression hosiery the condition can be managed.
Answer: A well balanced diet with nutritious food is best, trying to avoid high yeast content, processed foods and alcohol. Minimise fluctuation in weight gain. Low impact exercise to limit damage to joints.
Answer: A recent research paper shows that general impairment improved tremendously after liposuction not only in the immediate after period, but also after 8 years. Please paste this link into your browser to view the research paper: http://www.lipoedema.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Frambach_Yvonne_3005648.pdf
Answer: Skin excision procedures are still an option.
Answer: There is very little data to support or refute this, but initial studies show that the sooner one intervenes the less likely it will progress.
Answer: 1) www.Lipoedema.co.uk. 2) www.lipoedema-simplified.org. 3) www.Lipoedemaladies.com.