Lipedema, a chronic condition affecting loose connective tissue, is marked by unusual fat build-up, mainly in the lower body parts. Although it affects between 10% to 20% of the population, lipedema often remains undetected and is commonly misdiagnosed. The precise cause of lipedema is still unknown, but various contributing factors have been recognized.
Managing Lipedema With Lifestyle Changes
Adopting lifestyle changes is key in the management of lipedema. These changes typically involve adhering to a nutritious diet, participating in consistent, gentle exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight to lessen stress on the impacted limbs. The Lipedema Foundation advocates for a diet low in inflammatory agents, citing recommendations from a specific book.
Utilizing compression wear, like tailored stockings or sleeves, can aid in lipedema management. They exert external pressure which can help in reducing swelling and easing pain. Additionally, some individuals opt for mechanical compression using pumps, manual lymph drainage massages, and dry brushing techniques to diminish swelling and promote fluid movement in the affected areas.
If these non-invasive approaches prove insufficient, surgical options may be considered for the patient.
Surgical Lipedema Treatments
Multiple surgical methods are available for treating lipedema, with liposuction being the most common. This procedure involves removing excess fat from the impacted regions, offering symptomatic relief. As a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, I’ve observed significant benefits from liposuction in lipedema cases. Some cases may also require the removal of skin and subcutaneous fat, possibly in conjunction with liposuction.
Here’s what to expect:
- Patient Assessment: An in-depth evaluation by a certified plastic surgeon is critical. This usually involves a physical exam, determining the severity of lipedema, and evaluating overall health.
- Pre-Surgery Strategy: Based on this evaluation, your surgeon will craft a tailored plan. This plan outlines the liposuction areas, estimates the fat volume for removal, and sets the procedure’s objectives. Additional medical tests may be necessary.
- Anesthesia: Liposuction for lipedema is typically performed under general anesthesia, though local anesthesia with sedation is sometimes used.
- Tumescent Method: Post-anesthesia, a mix of saline, anesthetic, and adrenaline is injected into the targeted zones to numb the area, reduce bleeding, and aid in fat extraction.
- Fat Extraction: We introduce a slender cannula through small skin incisions near the targeted areas, using it to dislodge and extract excess fat.
- Post-Surgery Care: Post-liposuction, wearing compression garments is essential for decreasing swelling and supporting recovery. Pain management and regular follow-up visits are vital. You’ll receive detailed instructions and the necessary compression garments from your surgeon.
Liposuction outcomes in lipedema cases become evident after the initial swelling decreases, usually resulting in reduced size of the affected areas, improved shape, and better mobility.
Is Liposuction for Lipedema Covered by Insurance?
Usually, insurance companies offer coverage when the procedure is identified as a medical necessity. This requires a healthcare provider’s documentation confirming the necessity and indicating that traditional treatments haven’t yielded results. Pre-authorization is often a prerequisite. In cases where insurance doesn’t cover liposuction, there may be other financial routes to consider, including interest-free payment plans. We accept CareCredit and PatientFi at Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona. Some patients opt for liposuction as a cosmetic choice, bearing the full cost themselves. It’s crucial to engage with both your healthcare provider and insurance company to receive accurate, up-to-date information tailored to your situation.
Medical Review: This procedural information has been medically reviewed by plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Brian A. Cripe, M.D.