cold to touch
good blood supply
There is currently a great deal of buzz around lipoedema – as far as we’re concerned, that can only be a good thing!
Lipoedema is a painful progressive disease suffered exclusively by women.
Abnormal fat cells increase in size to such an extent that they impede lymph drainage, resulting in a grotesque, distorted appearance, as well as causing discomfort, pain and restricted mobility. While the causes are not yet fully understood, there is a hereditary component. Often, symptoms first appear as a result of hormonal changes – puberty or pregnancy, for instances.
The ineffectiveness of conservative treatment methods leads many patients to investigate the surgical options available. As with any medical procedure, surgery must be medically indicated, i.e. must serve a medical purpose and constitute the treatment option most likely to improve or resolve the condition.
For a patient to be able to make the right decision as to whether to go down the surgical route, a comprehensive consultation is vital. Only an experienced lipoedema surgeon can assess, giving due consideration to the psychological stress and lifestyle restrictions suffered by the individual, whether the benefits of lipoedema surgery outweigh the risks inherent to any surgical procedure.
Because knowledge of the condition is limited, lipoedema is often only identified and diagnosed once it has reached an advanced stage. As a result, many patients suffer pain, physical deformities and psychological issues for many years.
Only with time does the patient realise that there is something ‘wrong’ with their physical proportions. In general, the disease manifests as a growing disproportionality between the body and the extremities, which become swollen and painful. Unfortunately, the latest scientific findings show that lipoedema may affect the entire body, and not just the extremities, as had previously been assumed.
Regrettably, the diagnosis is purely ‘clinical’; therefore, the patient’s description of her symptoms and history and how this relates to our knowledge of the condition is decisive. What can be seen and felt? What can be excluded as the cause of the appearance and symptoms? While there are many criteria that can help to identify the disease, only an experienced lipoedema specialist can make the correct diagnosis.
For lipoedema surgery to have lasting results, the goal is to remove as much of the painful abnormal tissue as possible. For optimal results, however, it is necessary to leave a layer of residual fat. The complexity of such a procedure demands a great deal of experience, a specialised lipoedema surgeon and a gentle approach. The use of ‘WAL’ – waterjet-assisted liposuction – means tissue, especially the lymphatic vessels, are left intact.
WAL saves time and is more convenient for the patient. Unlike traditional tumescent (lat. tumescere = to swell) liposuction, WAL does not require the infiltration with solution of the area to be treated. This means that we have greater control over the end result during surgery.
WAL is gentler. Important anatomical structures such as blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, nerves and connective tissue are subjected to less trauma. This is thanks to the pulsating water jet at the tip of the cannula, which gently washes the abnormal fat cells out of the connective tissue within which they are lodged. This results in more rapid reduction in swelling and, thus, a faster recovery.
No reputable surgeon can guarantee complete freedom from symptoms. However, where surgery represents the best form of treatment, we can achieve a significant alleviation of symptoms and improved quality of life. In our experience, after the procedure and the one-year healing period, the majority of patients achieve complete freedom of movement and are pain-free.