LIPEDEMA is an adipose tissue disorder that is commonly under recognized and often misdiagnosed as obesity. It affects over 11 million women worldwide. Women with Lipedema have an abnormal accumulation of fat cells which often present with a disproportionate appearance to the legs and arms (sometimes the abdomen and buttocks are affected). Unfortunately, physicians will suggest weight loss surgery (WLS) to help the patient with fat loss, however, this particular surgery will not have any impact on the abnormal Lipedema fat as it does not respond well to diet and exercise.
The legs have a common appearance of being column-like or have often been described as tree-trunks. Some women have referred to their lower legs and ankles as 'cankles'. Often, Lipedema is present in their mid-section, as well. Unlike regular fat, Lipedema fat can be very painful and can be progressively immobilizing if left untreated. Additionally, patients with Lipedema often have an increase in vascular fragility which can result in easy brusing upon something so simple as bumping into something. The difference between Lipedema and obesity is that the Lipedema fat does not respond to diet and exercise. Many women struggle with diets to try to get rid of the lipedema fat only to fail. It is NOT your fault! This type of fat WILL NOT respond to diets or exercise. This phenomenon is what is most frustrating to women who suffer from this disorder as they tend to diet and exercise 'til exhaustion - with no visible results.
Lipedema often presents itself during puberty and with other hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause. The only known treatment for Lipedema is Liposuction. Some other conservative treatments used to treat Lipedema are complete decongestive therapy using compression garments, pump therapy and manual lymphatic drainage but these only address the swelling component that is often present with Lipedema. These therapies do not address the abnormal accumulation of fat cells whereas Liposuction does.
We find that women with lipedema sometimes have pitting edema which can later turn into lipo-lymphedema (Stage 4) The pitting edema can happen over time with prolonged orthostasis and should resolve when the legs are elevated. Compression pump therapy works well for this. Most women experience swelling in the evening and while traveling. Lipedema sufferers often are faced with general fatigue and decreased skin temperatures in their limbs. Many women have shared with us that the areas affected by Lipedema are very cold. The texture of these areas can differ from fluffly spongy to very firm. There is also a possibility of loss of skin elasticity which can be emphasized after liposuction but can be address by means of skin tightening procedures if desired by the patient.
In early stages of Lipedema the upper body may remain slender while the lower body has a rapid increase of abnormal fat cell accumulation in the hips, thighs and legs. We find that the earlier that the Lipedema is treated the better it is in stopping the progression of it. When later stages 2 – 4 are present, the Lipedema fat can be found in the torso, abdomen, buttocks and upper extremities. The lymphatic system seems to be compromised which is evident by the swelling that is present. MLLD is a great way to wake up the lymphatic system.
Lipedema can cause serious depression and/or eating disorders as the women who suffer from it are continually struggling with diet and exercise which has proven to be non-effective. If left untreated, Lipedema can become progressively worse and the patients' gait can be compromised as well as having chronic joint pain from the excess fat storage on the body. If Lipedema progresses to a Stage 4, the patient can become completely immobile.
Lastly, many Lipedema sufferers have venous insufficiency and lymphatic system dysfunction. Addressing the vein status with a vascular surgeon is often suggested as is having manual lymphatic drainage therapy for about 6 weeks prior to surgery.
We understand how Lipedema can affect your life. Dr Perry has been effectively treating Lipedema with Liposuction since 1996. He is truly an expert in body contouring and shaping and would love to make a difference in your life. Additionally, two of our staff members have Lipedema so we are very familiar with the course of treatments that may be needed so that you can continue to live a productive and healthy life with your family, children and friends. We look forward to assisting you in this life changing treatment option.
Not all people have all symptoms and the symptoms vary significantly by person
Symmetrical presentation, involving bilateral legs and arms
Pain upon pressure, walking or when touched. Many patients are hypersensitive when even gently touched or ‘poked’
Abnormal accumulation of lipedema fat cells; from the waist to the knees and then all the way down to the ankles. This will sometimes present a ring or a ‘cuff’ at the ankle and wrist but it will spare the hands and feet.
Disproportionate fatty deposits at the upper and outer thighs (saddlebags)
Fat pads under the knee at the shin area as well as fat pads above the knee
Abnormal accumulation of fat at the Knee which can lead to gait impairment
Treating your problem
Dr. Perry is aware of the importance of the proper diagnosis and is committed to making ‘Lipedema’ a well known diagnosis so that those who suffer from it can feel confident in knowing that their own doctor will be aware of the condition. He uses WAL technique and is always open to learning the newest cutting edge technology so that he stays current in the Lipedema and plastic and reconstructive surgery field.
If you feel that you may have Lipedema and feel that you are a candidate for surgery, please call our office to schedule an evaluation. If you are not local to Southern California, we can offer you a convenient photo and phone evaluation. Please call or email to schedule 562-315-5700