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Build up of fat in the body is usually written off as having a poor lifestyle, not exercising enough, and not eating the right foods. However, while these factors can and do contribute to weight gain and excess fat, there are medical conditions that can lead to weight gain, fat accumulation, and uneven fat distribution. One of these conditions is called lipedema. Allure Esthetic Plastic Surgery provides the best lipedema liposuction Seattle offers.

Understand: What Is Lipedema?

Lipedema is a fat disorder that causes an abnormal collection of fat cells in the lower body. Most often, it will first affect the thighs. It always presents in both limbs. While most common in the lower body, it can affect the arms and torso. As the condition progresses, it may also affect the lower abdomen.

The fat build-up does not match the rest of the body. The fat will also often collect in large nodules that can be felt underneath the skin. The nodules can present as pearl-sized to apple-sized. This indicates both the collection of fat and an increase in the size of the fat cells themselves in the area.

The disease progresses throughout one’s lifetime and presents in three stages. Stage I is often barely visible to most beyond the possible nodules and noticeably larger thigh and hip areas. Occasionally, the ankles may begin to collect fat. Patients also generally show other symptoms.

Stage II is when many of the telltale signs of lipedema become apparent such as the ankle cuffs and worsening of other lipedema symptoms. Stage III includes a mix of pearl and apple-sized nodules. At this stage, it may also begin affecting other areas of the body.

Lipedema almost exclusively affects women. It does appear to have a notable genetic link and likely runs in families. Women also tend to see the onset of lipedema during points in their life when hormones are elevated or change. For example, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause may all contribute to lipedema formation.

Signs & Symptoms of Lipedema

The signs of lipedema can range from subtle to dramatic depending on the progression of the condition, the patient’s age, and their natural body contours. The most obvious symptom is a significant size difference between the upper body and the lower body. In lipedema patients, it is not uncommon for the upper body to wear a clothing size several sizes smaller than their lower body. Other possible signs and symptoms may include:

  • Excessive and disproportionate fat accumulation presents in both limbs, commonly the legs
  • Fat nodules that can be felt under the skin
  • Heavy feeling in the legs
  • Fat is diet and exercise resistant
  • Pain, usually chronic and affecting the legs, knees, and back
  • Swelling
  • Easily bruised skin
  • May have severe cellulite (orange peel texture) on the thighs and buttocks
  • Joint problems
  • Can worsen mental health problems such as depression and anxiety

Lipedema can look like and has many similar symptoms to other conditions. It is important to have a physician examine the afflicted areas. A doctor who specializes in lipedema surgery or treatment can help patients determine if they are experiencing lipedema or potentially another procedure.

Lipedema vs. Lymphedema

With strikingly similar names and both affecting similar areas, it can be difficult to tell lipedema and lymphedema apart. Many experts are pushing to change the name of lipedema to lipalgia because “edema” implies swelling which is not exactly accurate for the condition.

Lymphedema refers to swelling that occurs due to the build-up of lymph fluid in fat tissue. It may affect only one limb whereas lipedema always affects both. It occurs due to a failure or blockage of the lymphatic system. Lymphedema usually has an outside cause and has more treatment options. Though, it is still a chronic condition.

Some of the conservative treatments for the conditions such as wearing compression garments are the same for lymphedema and lipedema. However, liposuction will not benefit lymphedema and surgical solutions generally address the lymphatic system. One of the more difficult aspects of telling the conditions apart is that they can occur together.

Dr. Sajan can help patients identify and determine the ideal treatment plan for lipedema during a consultation at Allure Esthetic Plastic Surgery.

Non-Surgical Lipedema Treatments

Before resorting to liposuction for lipedema, patients are urged to try more conservative treatments first. Additionally, patients will likely need to continue some of these treatments for the rest of their life, even after surgery. Some of the most common non-surgical lipedema treatments include:

  • Eating according to a Rare Adipose Disorder (RAD) diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Wear compression garments daily
  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Ultrasound lymphatic massage
  • Dry brushing
  • Vibration therapy

Not all non-surgical treatments will work for every lipedema patient. Working to find what works best for the individual patient before surgery will often provide them with better results and make the condition easier to manage in the future.

Liposuction For Lipedema

Liposuction is considered the best and most effective treatment for lipedema. Breaking up the fat nodules and removing fat slows the progression of the condition and can improve the patient’s quality of life by reducing symptoms. Some lipedema patients may require multiple treatments or numerous lipedema liposuction procedures throughout their lifetime.

While the mechanical function of liposuction for lipedema is the same as cosmetic liposuction, there are some small differences. Tumescent liposuction is commonly used during cosmetic liposuction, but it is not necessary to achieve a good result. When treating lipedema though, injecting tumescent fluid or a similar process is necessary. This prevents major damage to the lymphatic system.

Lymph-sparing liposuction is considered to be the best lipedema treatment. While lipedema is not characterized as a build-up of lymph fluid, it is believed that women with lipedema do have some sort of lymphatic dysfunction which makes minimizing damage to the lymphatic system integral during liposuction surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can You Cure Lipedema?

No, currently, there is no reliable cure for lipedema. Liposuction can slow down the progression of the disease, but it does not completely cure it.

2. How Effective Is Liposuction For Lipedema?

Even if liposuction cannot cure lipedema, it is considered effective for reducing symptoms associated with the condition. Patients who undergo lymph-sparing liposuction frequently see an increase in their quality of life, reduced pain, and improved mobility. Thus, liposuction is highly effective at treating the symptoms associated with lipedema.

3. Can People With Lipedema Be Skinny?

Yes, lipedema can affect people of any weight. While often misdiagnosed as obesity, lipedema does occur in petite people too. This can create a stark difference in the fat distribution between the upper and lower bodies which can make lipedema easier to diagnose.

4. How Much Is Lipedema Liposuction In Seattle?

Determining the exact cost of liposuction for lipedema requires a consultation. This is because the cost varies based on the severity and extent of the condition. Liposuction with Dr. Sajan starts at $2,995 for one area.

5. Can Lipedema Go Away With Weight Loss?

Generally, no, weight loss can sometimes help improve lipedema and slow its progression, but it will not make it go away. Lipedema fat does not significantly respond to traditional diet and exercise, even if weight loss occurs elsewhere in the body.

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