Lipoedema is a surprisingly common condition in women that is characterised by a disproportionate collection of abnormal fat in the legs. The fat can also build up in the arms, but it is mostly seen in the lower half of the body: thighs, calves and ankles. The waist is often slim and it also spares the feet, resulting in a band-like effect just above the feet. It is usually chronic and progressive, getting increasingly uncomfortable or even painful over time. The skin can also be tender, and bruising tends to occur quite easily. It can eventually lead to poor lymphatic drainage and further swelling, when it is called lipolymphoedema. Lipoedema is often managed unsatisfactorily with compression and massage. At Venus Medical, we ultrasound-assisted liposuction to contour the areas and remove excess fat, often providing dramatic results for sufferers of lipoedema. The ultrasonic probes have several advantages over traditional liposuction to treat delicate areas in the lower limbs and around the ankles. Dr Prendergast has over a decade of experience using these techniques under local anaesthesia. Depending on the extent of lipoedema, more than one procedure might be necessary to remove more fat in selected individuals.
Treatments for lipoedema
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)
How much fat can be removed?
It depends on your anatomy and condition, but usually we withdraw 1-3 litres of fat per procedure. The contouring is very important during this procedure to get great results, and what we leave behind is as important as what we take away during the procedure to get aesthetically pleasing results.
Do I have to be put under general anaesthesia for the procedure?
No. We use a very safe form of liposuction at Venus Medical called ultrasound-assisted liposuction under tumescent local anaesthesia (TLA). This means you don’t need to recover from a general anaesthetic and none of the risks associated with general anaesthesia apply. You are wide awake but comfortable during the procedure and can go home with a family member or friend straight away.
What will the recovery be like?
Swelling and hardness in the tissues is normal after lipoedema treatment with Vaser lipo, so you will need to be committed to some aftercare. You are able to walk around normally with your compression stockings, which must be worn for 4-6 weeks. Regular manual lymphatic drainage is important to reduce swelling and soften tissues. It can take several months to see the final results after treatment of the legs and ankles, although most patients see improvement almost immediately.
Can Vaser lipo help for lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema differs from lipoedema where there is swelling due to impaired lymphatic drainage in lymphoedema. The swelling in lymphoedema is due to fluid leaking from lymphatic vessels and not just fat. As such, Vaser is not a primary treatment for lymphoedema. However, lipoedema if left untreated can progress to lipolymphoedema where lymphatic flow is impaired.
Will the fat come back?
The fat cells do not return after they have been removed. It’s important as always, however, to keep a healthy, stable weight so the remaining fat cells do not enlarge and compromise the result.
We’re here to help you achieve natural-looking results whatever your concerns.