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Lipoedema

The Private Clinic offers safe and reliable treatments for Lipoedema symptoms.

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Medically reviewed by Lorcan Sheppard BSc MBBS FRCA, Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Advisory Committee for The Private Clinic.
Last Reviewed March 22nd 2022

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It is estimated that 11% of the female population suffer from lipoedema. Although it was first diagnosed in the 1940s, little progress has been made with the condition with many medical professionals having no knowledge of the condition and often misdiagnosing patients.

What is lipoedema?

Lipoedema, also spelt Lipedema in the USA, is a condition that causes an abnormal build-up of fat in the legs. It is more likely to affect women and can be painful and in severe cases can affect daily life. The majority of cases of lipoedema go undiagnosed with many patients being advised to lose weight but lipoedema does not respond to weight loss or exercise which can leave many patients feeling frustrated.

What are the symptoms of lipoedema?

The most common symptoms of lipoedema include:

  • The lower body being out of proportion to the upper body
  • Weight gain predominately in the hips, thighs and knees which is usually symmetrical.
  • Excess weight not seen on hands or feet.
  • Unexplained bruising.
  • Ability to lose weight from upper body but not lower body.
  • Affected areas may be sensitive to touch and pressure.
  • Pain and heaviness felt in the affected areas.
  • Skin of the affected areas can appear dimpled like orange peel.

There are 3 different stages of lipoedema severity, patients can remain in one stage or progress from stage 1-3 over time.

What causes lipoedema?

The causes of lipoedema are not known however it is believed that hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause and taking the contraceptive pill have been considered as potential factors that can bring on lipoedema symptoms. It is also believed that lipoedema can hereditary however it can miss a generation.

What is the treatment for lipoedema?

It is important to note that there is no cure for lipoedema and any treatments should be seen more as management of lipoedema symptoms. At The Private Clinic we are able to offer liposuction treatment to lipoedema patients which can help to reduce the build-up of fatty tissue in the affected area whilst improving mobility, discomfort, and quality of life.

Dr Dennis Wolf is considered one of the most talented Vaser liposuction surgeons in the country and known for being one of the leaders in lipoedema treatment in the UK. Dr Dennis Wolf is available for liposuction for lipoedema consultations at our London Harley Street clinic.

What to Expect

Liposuction for Lipoedema

There is a huge variety of different liposuction treatments and techniques. What is important when treating Lipoedema with Liposuction is not causing any damage to lymphatic system which could then cause lymphodema, often referred to as Lymph sparing liposuction

Our surgeons at The Private Clinic use tumescent vaser liposuction or tumescent micro lipo liposuction procedures to help reduce the symptoms of lipoedema.

Tumescent liposuction is a technique where the areas being treated with liposuction are injected with anaesthetic fluid. This helps to enlarge the fatty tissue making it easier to remove whilst also constricting small blood vessels which reduces the risk of bleeding and bruising. The anaesthetic in the fluid also causes the area to become numb which makes it more comfortable to perform under local anaesthetic.

Liposuction for lipoedema can be performed on all the areas affected by lipoedema including the:

  • Thighs – Reducing fatty tissue from the front, inner and outer thighs can help to make a difference to the overall size of the leg whilst also allowing movement without both thighs rubbing together causing discomfort.
  • Calves – Removing fatty tissue from above the ankle bones can give more definition to the leg.
  • Knees – The inner side of the knee is most commonly treated and often combined with front of thigh and ankle treatment to give more shape to the entire leg.
  • Arms – Fat is often distributed between the elbow and armpit on the upper portion of the arm, reducing bulk in this area can bring your arm more in proportion to the rest of your body.

Find out more about Vaser Liposuction treatment here.

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Liposuction for Lipoedema Aftercare

What is the recovery like after liposuction for lipoedema?

You will leave our liposuction clinic wearing a post-surgery compression garment on the area/s treated. It is important that this garment is worn at all times (apart from when bathing) for two weeks and then at night only for another two weeks but ideally up to 3 months post-procedure to ensure the best results.

Fluid leakage is common following liposuction treatment from the incision sites, this usually subsides after 48 hours. The fluid leakage in most cases is just excess tumescent fluid left over from the procedure. We will provide you with aftercare to help you manage this in a comfortable way.

Bruising and Swelling may occur a couple of days post-procedure. Bruising should reduce after 2 weeks but swelling is likely to remain for around 1-3 months. It will gradually reduce, we recommend exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet and drinking lots of fluids to help encourage this. 

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FAQs

How do I know if I have lipoedema?

Unfortunately it can be hard to get an official diagnosis of lipoedema from a GP as it is likely that they would not be familiar with the condition.

We recommend going through the list of lipoedema symptoms and seeing if any fit what you are experiencing.

There are lots of online sources and organisations that can help including:

If you are wondering if liposuction is going to be the best treatment for you to reduce excess fat in your legs. We recommend booking a consultation with our expert Dr Dennis Wolf who will be able to help identify if lipoedema is the cause and advise on the best course of treatment to help reduce your symptoms.

Can I get liposuction for lipoedema on the NHS?

Liposuction for Lipoedema on the NHS is possible; however it is very difficult to get NHS funding for this type of procedure.

The first step is to get a diagnosis from your GP, once this has happened then your GP can apply for funding through your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Each CCG has different regulations as to what they will and won’t fund and many conditions are taken on a case-by-case basis.

As well as strict regulations, the NHS also has lengthy wait-times for Lipo for Lipoedema procedures.

Many patients choose to seek for self-pay liposuction treatment for lipoedema for these reasons.

Our private clinic setting allows Lipoedema patients to meet with our expert surgeon, Dr Dennis Wolf who specialises in Liposuction for Lipoedema. Surgery is carried out at our state-of-the-art private hospital in London Fitzroy Square. All aftercare appointments are included in the cost of the procedure and our 24-hour helpline means you will be in the best of hands.

Contact us to find out more.

What is the difference between Lipoedema and Lymphoedema?

Lipoedema is commonly misdiagnosed as Lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema is a condition where the lymphatic system does not work properly and causes a build-up of excess fluid and swelling in the affected areas. It usually only occurs in one leg or arm and is often caused due to damage to lymph nodes which can happen as part of cancer therapy.

Lipoedema in comparison is a condition that causes a build up of fatty deposits in the affected areas. It affects both arms or legs symmetrically and although the cause is still relatively unknown, reports have presented those hormones and genetics are factors that can make you more prone to developing lipoedema.

Whilst both conditions do cause an enlargement of the affected area, the cause is different. Another tell-tale difference between the two conditions is that when pressure is applied to an area affected by lymphoedema, an indention mark may remain which does not happen when pressure is applied to an area affected by lipoedema.

It is possible for patients with lipoedema to also have lymphoedema.

There is no real treatment for Lymphoedema but treatments that implement compression and massage have been known to help reduce symptoms, along with a healthy lifestyle and exercise. At The Private Clinic we offer Body Ballancer treatment which has been clinically proven to help reduce limb and body swelling by effectively moving any excess fluid into and through the lymphatic vessels whilst boosting blood circulation. Find out more here.

What happens if lipoedema is left untreated?

There is no real cure for lipoedema however the range of treatments on offer will help patients manage their condition, their symptoms and reduce the progression of the condition whilst also improving their overall health.

If left untreated, your lipoedema symptoms may get worse and begin to affect your mobility, emotional health, and quality of life.

Lipoedema can also progress into lymphedema if the excess starts to block vessels of the lymphatic system which will prevent the natural drainage of lymph fluid.

When can I return to work after liposuction for lipoedema?

We advise patients to allow 3-5 days before returning to work. This will depend on the nature of your role. Those in a job role that is highly strenuous may need to take extra time to allow time to heal.

When can I exercise after liposuction for lipoedema?

We encourage patients to remain relatively active during their recovery period with activities like walking. Exercise can be performed on other areas of the body that have not been treated. If the legs were treated for example, then arm exercises can be carried out but you will need to ideally wait at least 4-5 weeks before resuming running or other highly strenuous activities.

Patient Testimonials

The Lipoedema UK 2021 Survey – Living with Lipoedema – Liposuction and Other Treatments was completed by 933 women who have lipoedema. 92% reported a reduction a reduction in size & swelling to limbs and 87% reported an overall improvement to quality of life after having liposuction treatment for lipoedema. See the full survey here.

There are a growing number of personal testimonials and studies that show that many patients experience enormous benefits and improved quality of life from non-cosmetic liposuction for lipoedema.

“LIFE CHANGING! That’s the only way I think I should start this. Dr Wolf and his team really have changed my life for the better!

The care I received; the kindness of all staff was incredible! Especially with a surgery during COVID restrictions and myself suffering with Anxiety. They made it such a pleasant experience. Made me feel safe and looked after. All my contact and follow ups with Faye have been brilliant. Nothing is ever “silly” or “too much” for Dr Wolf or his team.

I had my surgery back in October 2021. Vaser Liposuction on my thighs and knees for Lipedema. I still remember getting back to my hotel room (as travelled all the way from Somerset for Dr Wolf) after the day surgery and crying at the initial results! To say they are now even more beautiful is an understatement. I still can’t believe they are my legs! I lost inches!

I was up and back to “normal” after just under 2 weeks. Which was incredible. Never thought the recovery would be that quick. Don’t get me wrong first few days/weeks weren’t easy. But well worth it!

I am now capable of walking further than before (3.5km last Sunday) and being able to keep up with my 3-year-old. Living a pain free life! It really is such a change of life.

Again thank you to Dr Wolf and his team!”

Beth, Liposuction for Lipoedema Patient

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