Lipedema, also called painful fat disorder, is a condition that causes irregular fat distribution under the skin, especially on the lower body. Lipedema is disfiguring, and as it progresses can be very painful. Lipedema is primarily seen in female patients and affects up to 11% of all women.
Learn about the treatment options available for lipedema in Dallas, TX from Dr. Evan Beale, one of the area’s top plastic surgeons.
What Is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a disorder that changes how fat is distributed in the legs and buttocks. Increased fat builds up in the legs and buttocks and causes a symmetric enlargement of these areas. The legs and lower body are often significantly larger than the upper body in patients with lipedema.
Signs and symptoms of lipedema include:
- Abnormal fat deposits in both legs, occurring from the ankle to the buttocks
- A column-like leg appearance
- Easy bruising in the affected areas
- Skin that feels spongy
These symptoms typically worsen with time. As fat accumulates in the lower body, the body may develop difficulties with infection and fluid drainage. Lipedema begins in the legs, but it can affect the arms and upper body as the condition progresses. This condition is painful, both physically and emotionally, for many patients.
The exact causes of lipedema are unknown, but there appears to be a genetic and hormonal link to the condition. Many patients notice a development or worsening of symptoms around times of hormonal change including pregnancy, puberty, and menopause.
Lipedema is often mistaken for obesity and dietary problems, but this condition is not caused by lifestyle factors. Diet and exercise will not reduce this type of fat.
Lipedema Treatment in Dallas, TX
If you have lipedema in Dallas, TX, call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Beale. Effective treatment for this condition requires a multi-faceted treatment approach that may include:
- Exercise, Diet, and Nutrition- Although lipedema isn’t caused by diet, a healthy lifestyle is still important. This improves overall health and may reduce potential complications. Weight control through diet and exercise also helps to keep non-lipedema fat at healthy levels. Diet and exercise may slow the progress of lipedema, especially if they are started early in the disease.
- Emotional Support- Lipedema can be difficult to live with. Patients need good emotional support from medical and mental health providers, as well as family and friends.
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage- Lymphatic drainage is a specialized massage technique that can help lymph fluids to circulate and drain. It is used after plastic surgery to speed healing and can also be effective for lipedema treatment.
- Compression- Compression garments may be useful for some patients with lipedema.
- Liposuction- Liposuction can manually remove lipedema fat from the legs and buttocks. Tumescent or water-assisted liposuction techniques are typically used. It is important to choose a surgeon that is familiar with liposuction for lipedema treatment. This is not traditional cosmetic liposuction and specialized knowledge is needed for effective and safe fat removal. Some patients will require several liposuction sessions.
- Surgical Excision- Surgically removing excess skin and fatty tissue may be needed for some patients. Dr. Beale uses procedures like the thigh lift and lower body lift to treat affected areas, removing damaged skin and tissues.
Learn more about your options for treating lipedema by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Beale. You can reach our Dallas, TX plastic surgery office by phone at 972-566-3001.