When Liposuction Isn’t For Vanity: Lipedema Causes Excessive Fat Deposits In Women

New York, NY – Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed today. But for women suffering from lipedema, it can be a necessity for successful treatment of a rare but devastating disease. “Lipedema is a disease of lipid metabolism that almost exclusively affects women, typically in their 20s and 30s,” says Dr. David Greuner of Vein Centers Of NYC Surgical Associates. “Studies suggest that 11% of the female population is affected. Often misdiagnosed as ‘lymphedema’, or simply obesity, lipedema is characterized by a bilateral and symmetrical swelling of the lower extremities (excluding the feet), caused by the impairment of the body’s ability to distribute and store fatty tissue along with the enlargement of individual fat cells. This leads to cylinder appearing legs, often described as “cankles,” says Dr. Greuner.

This painful disease can affect overweight and healthy individuals alike and is not affected by weight loss. Women with thin upper bodies and localized fat deposits in the legs are typical of this disease. Although the exact cause of lipedema is unknown, hormonal disorders, stress and heredity have been listed as factors. Lipedema most commonly manifests during puberty, after pregnancy or during menopause. If left untreated, the disease prevents the lymphatic system from its ability to perform one of its most basic functions, the removal of water from the tissues, causing lymphedema, or buildup of water in tissue. If this occurs, fluid will accumulate and swelling develops. The immune system is also affected and the risk for cellulitis – or skin infections – increases.

When lipedema is diagnosed early, it is possible to prevent a significant expansion of diseased fat cells, and to alert patients to their heightened risk so they can take appropriate action.

Lipedema can be diagnosed using clinical history and physical examination. Physical signs of lipedema include: legs which are symmetrically enlarged between the hips and ankles (column leg), a ring of fatty tissue overlapping the top of the feet, the legs can be pale in color and feel comparatively colder than the rest of the body, skin has a dough – like feel, and often varicose veins can be seen under the skin. Patients usually complain about pain in their legs and knees, and tenderness when pressure is applied on the affected areas. The disease can often cause difficulty moving in its later stages.

While there are several conservative treatments that can reduce pain and the development of secondary lymphedema, they do not seem to have a long -term effect on the problematic fat tissue. Therefore, the only successful long term treatment for lipedema is tumescent lymph sparing liposuction. The procedure involves injecting a liquid solution into the legs to help numb the area and reduce blood loss before the unwanted fat is removed.

The patient is awake and assists during the procedure. Data suggests that with tumescent liposuction the surgeon can remove the excess fat and prevent the return of lipedema with little to no side effects. Research shows that lymph sparing liposuction yields good long -term results in reduction of pain and in stopping the progression of lipedema. The need for other therapies such as compression is greatly reduced in almost all patients, and in some cases can be eliminated after liposuction is performed.

For more information visit www.veincenters.net or call 888-286-6600

A New Era Of Surgery Is Here

Having been trained in both traditional and minimally invasive surgery, and during its evolution I have watched techniques improve drastically in the last decade. I believe – with certain limitations inherent to the medical profession – in the next decade we will see technological growth similar to that in the 1990s in the computer industry.

Surgeons in America have amassed a broad based and widely taught basic skill set that will allow for exponential growth in minimally invasive techniques. Due to dramatic consumer demand and information technology, the biotechnology arena is expanding in leaps and bounds.

Not only are we able to perform more advanced techniques with less pain and scarring, but we are now able to see the benefits long term of these procedures that were not initially clear. Smaller wounds and less tissue damage initially resulted in the obvious shorter hospital stays and downtime, but other benefits that were not initially expected, are also becoming apparent.

We as surgeons have found that procedures that do not require incisions bring lower risks of nerve damage and “minor” complaints such as lymph node associated swelling that were not previously thought of as significant.

Because of the lower side effect profile inherent to minimally invasive surgery, the threshold to operate and stop the disease earlier in its course is often much lower. As more surgery is performed, improved outcomes are expected, and warranted.

As more and more data is tracked with regularity, we are realizing that quality of life is a major factor in patient outcomes, often just as important as the immediate surgical result.

Due to dramatically increased patient knowledge from widely available resources, patients are demanding the most cutting edge care. The educated patient wants more today than ever. The least invasive techniques with minimal scar and downtime, with the same or better result than conventional surgery. They deserve that.

Having been one of these patients in the past year, for a major surgery treated with robotic techniques, I can attest to all of these issues. I sought the best care, and I believe I had a phenomenal result.

The bar has been set at a new level. It is up to us as surgeons to not just deliver this higher level of care, but exceed it, and be able to communicate our techniques, concerns, and results in an effective manner to our new genre of patients. I look forward to not just meeting, but exceeding this standard.