What is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a misunderstood condition that affects 17 million women in the United States, and more than 370 million women worldwide. Lipedema is a condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue, usually below the waist, leading to progressive leg enlargement. This chronic disorder can also affect the arms.
Lipedema is a serious medical condition with many critical complications. The increased bulk and fibrosis cause blockages and hindrances to lymphatic flow. Other complications include deterioration of the joints, varicose veins, overall body pain and "pins and needles" type of discomfort. Additionally, patients report psychological problems ranging from lack of self-confidence to depression. (For more information, read Understanding Lipedema)
What does Lipedema look like?
This condition gives a person a "tree-like" disproportion of the legs, where fat deposits encircle the thighs, knees, calves and ankles; however, the feet are not affected. In the majority of patients, the arms become involved but usually presents later in the course. In some patients, Lipedema also develops in the buttocks and hips, with cellulite and a lumpy appearance. The swelling of the tissue is due to the accumulations of fluid and fat in the tissues under the skin. (View before/after patient photos)
Who is affected by Lipedema?
While the cause of Lipedema is unknown, there seems to be a genetic component with the disease, as the majority of all cases involve a family history. Lipedema predominately affects women, and inflicts both thin and obese individuals alike, with cases reported in both morbidly obese as well as and women who suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia.
Since Lipedema seems to be affected by hormones, it's typically triggered at puberty; however, it can also trigger or worsen during or after pregnancy, at peri-menopause and following gynecological surgery.
What are the stages of progression?
Lipedema is typically characterized as disproportionately large legs, which become increasingly heavier and column-like as the disease progresses. As the fat cells expand, and inflammation increases leading to fibrosis (scar-like changes) they begin to interfere with an individual' s lymphatic vessel pathways, developing into a condition known as lipo Lymphedema.
Lipedema typically exhibits the following characteristics:
- Abnormal bilateral and symmetrical swelling of the legs and hips, which extends down towards the ankles. The feet are unaffected, as the swelling tends to stop at the ankles.
- Fatty bulges on the outer surfaces of the thighs and typically the upper arms.
- Lipedema is a serious medical condition, and if untreated, it can lead to an array of multiple health problems.
How is Lipedema diagnosed?
Lipedema is frequently misdiagnosed as obesit y or Lymphedema. The leg enlargement is commonly diagnosed as Lymphedema, even when no lymphatic malfunction is present. Dr. Amron stresses the diagnosis of Lipedema must be done on a clinical basis and categorized into three stages: mild, moderate and severe or advanced. Dr. Amron carefully evaluates his patients to determine if they are a candidate for liposuction. His approach utilizes a unique 3-dimensional technique to view the affected areas and develop a customized plan, ensuring the results achieved are balanced, proportionate and natural. (Learn more about Dr. Amron's consultative process)
How is Lipedema treated?
Dr. David Amron has over 15 years of experience treating Lipedema patients, and he's developed a highly specialized and technical procedure. Specifically, Dr. Amron employs lymphatic-sparing tumescent liposuction under local anesthetic, customized for each of his patients. (Learn more about WAL and lymphatic-sparing tumescent liposuction) Dr. Amron's years of experience, skill and dedication, combined with the use of highly advanced liposuction techniques, ensure his patients achieve the absolute best possible results. Read (Dr. Amron's philosophy)
What is the recovery like?
Dr. Amron has devised a specific post-operative care plan for his Lipedema patients. After surgery, patients are placed in custom-made compression garments, which they are advised to wear 24 hours a day for four weeks after their surgery, followed by an additional four weeks wearing the garments, but for 12 hours a day. For patients with stages three or four Lipedema, their feet and legs may be bandaged immediately after surgery.
A key step in the recovery process for patients to schedule Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) therapy once or twice a week, with possible additional bandaging. (Learn more about recovery from Lipedema liposuction surgery)
Most patients are surprised to see they are up and walking almost immediately after their liposuction procedures. In fact, Dr. Amron recommends his patients walk up to one mile the following day as tolerated. Most patients report mild bruising, and only about 10 to 15% of patients require pain medication postoperatively. (See the remarkable before and after photos and read testimonials from Lipedema patients)