Lipedema is a condition characterized by the uneven or disproportionate accumulation of excessive fat most commonly on the lower extremities, although some patients may also have this issue with the upper extremities. It can be uncomfortable and frustrating for people who otherwise lead healthy lifestyles, but who are quite heavy in their lower bodies. This condition—medically called lipedema—has been the subject of much interest, with several medical professionals referring to it as a disease. To alleviate the physical and emotional burden of lipedema, Dr. DuPéré uses a special liposuction technique at his Toronto clinic in Yorkville.
What Is Lipedema?
Thought to be largely hereditary, lipedema is a condition that results in lower extremities (occasionally involving the upper extremities too) that appear disproportionately bulky and fatty as compared to the rest of the body. Lipedema patients are almost always women.
Fat deposits associated with lipedema typically remain limited to the legs and buttocks, although fat may also accumulate in the upper extremities in more advanced stages. Venous issues can appear in later stages of lipedema such as venous insufficiencies, varicose vein development and venous stasis dermatitis (dark blue/brown discoloration around ankles). Although lipedema can be physically painful and cause emotional and physical discomfort and limitations, the condition is usually not dangerous or harmful unless it reaches the end of the spectrum with marked lymphedema (tissue swelling) and venous insufficiency and congestion and possible deep vein thrombosis (clotting). Finding appropriate clothing is a significant issue due to the disproportion upper versus lower body. Unfortunately, the fat associated with lipedema is typically unresponsive to dieting and exercise.
Treating Lipedema With A Special Liposuction Technique
The fat accumulated as the result of lipedema can be effectively reduced with a modified liposuction technique: lymphatic-sparing liposuction with large tumescence volumes. There are many key differences between traditional liposuction and lipedema treatment.
Lipedema treatment typically occurs in stages—as many as 3 separate procedures. This is largely a matter of safety and skin elasticity. As Dr. DuPéré wrote in a blog post on the topic, it’s not uncommon to remove, over time, a large volume of fat—up to 15 litres—when treating lipedema with liposuction.
It is safer to break large volume fat reduction into separate procedures because it reduces the risk of complications during and after surgery. It is a rule to keep it under 5L lipo-aspirate per session in Canada and USA when performed in an out-of-hospital facility. It also allows Dr. DuPéré to create more refined, sculpted results and will allow the skin to contract to some extent between sessions.
Lipedema treatment also often involves flipping the patients on their abdomen and back so the plastic surgeon can reach all areas circumferentially.
Finally, treating the lower legs from knees to ankles requires meticulous work and smaller cannulas, therefore a longer surgical time, as to avoid cannula tracks in this delicate region.
Recovery & Results
Lipedema patients who undergo liposuction in Toronto with Dr. DuPéré experience a recovery similar to that of most other liposuction procedures. Dr. DuPéré fits each patient with a compression garment to support their treated areas after surgery. It is important to wear the garment for 3 to 4 weeks following surgery, as it also helps to minimize swelling. It is also one of the many precautions against deep vein thrombosis, along with early ambulation (walking around).
Most patients manage their symptoms after surgery with prescribed pain medicine, although most people only use these for a few days. Patients are ready to return to work and other relatively sedentary daily activities after about 1 week. It is important to wait longer—often upwards of 6 weeks—before participating in vigorous activities that require lots of muscle movement or have the potential to raise your heart rate.Back to Top