Lipoedema can be a debilitating disease, causing physical pain, reduced mobility, and psychological distress. They say prevention is better than a cure and while there is no cure for lipoedema, the disease can be managed, and early intervention is key to preventing or limiting the symptoms that intrude on normal life.
The enlarged tissue in the legs and sometimes arms characteristic of lipoedema does not reduce with diet and exercise adjustments. It stops at the wrists and ankles with a kind of “cuffing” or “braceleting” from an abrupt end to the fuller tissue. The legs usually have a column-like shape with little definition at the knees or around the muscles. Lipoedema also causes sensitivity and pain on touch, psychological anguish, and mobility difficulties (with advanced cases needing assistance from walking aids). For more information about the management of the various aspects of lipoedema, read our post, Lipoedema Treatment and Management.
In our clinic, we manage tissue enlargement in the lower legs and arms with the use of liposuction, where we remove excess fatty tissue and sculpt the lower legs and arms. It works like this: the area to be treated (eg: the ankles) is injected with a tumescent anaesthetic. This simultaneously numbs the area and begins to displace the fatty tissues. A cannula is then inserted, via a tiny incision, into the subcutaneous fat. As the cannula is drawn back and forth in a fanning motion it further displaces the fat and it is removed from the body using suction through the cannula.
Using liposuction/liposculpture to treat lipoedema early in the presentation of the disease can help improve the self-confidence of the patient, as well as supporting ease of movement (without the enlarged limbs to impede it) and help clothing to fit better.
Before going through with surgical intervention, it’s important to address these four issues.