Lipodema is a disorder that is frequently misdiagnosed and almost exclusive to women, it is characterised by painful deposition of fat (adipose) tissue under the skin in the upper and lower extremities. There is often a familial tendency in Lipedema.
The deposition is often symmetric, progressive and spares the ankle and feet and generally spares the hands in the upper limb, the cuff sign is seen when the fat deposits begin abruptly over the ankle region.
The onset of this problem can begin with the menstrual cycle or around pregnancy or menopause. The exact cause of this problem is not known.
As the problem worsens the skin overlying these areas bruises very easily and can go from smooth to bumpy to looking like an orange peel with folds on it. Lipedema is also associated with overloading on the knee and other lower limb joints, discomfort due to rubbing of the inner thigh. The areas of fatty deposit are often painful. It can also have a severe impact on the patients mental wellbeing due to disproportionately large disfiguring enlargement of hips and limbs compared to the rest of the torso.
While commonly confused with obesity, it is very difficult or nearly impossible to lose weight from Lipedema affected limbs by dieting. When associated with Obesity, Lymphedema can develop in the later stages of Lipedema.
Lipedema can often be confused with conditions like Lymphedema, Benign Lipohypertrophy, Dercum’s disease.
The disease is classed into stages using the changes in the skin and the feel and visibility of the fat deposits under it. Stage 1 has a general smooth thickening of the skin, Stage 2 shows a wavy walnut like induration of irregularities in the skin like a mattress, Stage 3 the fatty swelling now starts forming lobes and folds that will hang above the knees and mid-thigh. In Stage 4 there is an additional development of lymphedema (blockage of lymph flow) the disease is then called Lipolymphedema, in general the lymphatic component worsens after approximately 10 years of the onset of the Lipodema / Lipedema process.
Another way of classifying the disease is by the distribution of the fat deposition Saddle bags, buttocks to knees, buttocks to ankles, arms or just the lower leg.
Treatment can be broadly classed as Conservative and Surgical.
In the Conservative treatments Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) using a compression garment or compression wrapping with or without Complex Decongestive Physiotherapy (CPD). Dry brushing, Deep Breathing Exercises, Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) can also be used to improve Lymphatic Flow. Keeping the weight steady by regular exercise (low impact) and building muscles will help. Getting emotional support by joining patient groups also is important.
Other conservative measures include a healthy diet that reduces inflammation, In the Surgical treatments, Super-wet Tumescent Liposuction with our without PAL (Power Assisted Liposuction) or VASER (Ultrasound assisted Liposuction) has revolutionised the treatment of Lipoedema / Lipedema and can give permanent long lasting results in reducing the fatty deposits, improving the contours and patient body image.
* All prices quoted apply to surgery done at World Class clinic in Mumbai, India and are subject to variation based on prevalent exchange rates.
Please visit Reforme Medical Cardiff, to consult with Dr Prashant Murugkar to find out more.
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General Medical Council
Associations of Plastic Surgeons of India
The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Royaldata-srcCollege of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Disclaimer: The content on this website is purely generated for awareness and educating purposes only. This shall not be considered as a substitute for professional advice or prescription. Every individual and their case is different, so the results mentioned on the website may vary from person to person.