Lipedema is defined as a medical disease or an adipose tissue disorder that involves the lymphatic system. One in nine women in the United States suffers from the genetic disorder, and if left untreated, it only gets worse. Lipedema specialist and board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jaime Schwartz is working diligently to give women a proper diagnosis and getting them the right treatment help. Found of Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA, Dr. Schwartz offers a center that is solely focused on providing women the resources and help they need to fight this disease. Lipedema is still a medical mystery and why it targets mainly women, yet more research is shedding light on answers.
Here is a look at how lipedema progresses and the treatment options for each stage of the disease to combat the various symptoms.
The main characteristics of lipedema
There are two ways to characterize this disease: early lipedema and extreme lipedema. Women in the earlier stages who seek medical help often get turned away by less knowledgeable medical professionals who are unfamiliar with the disorder. They are misdiagnosed as having a weight issue and are left feeling discouraged only to see their symptoms get worse.
Lipedema specialists like Dr. Schwartz are trained to look for the definitive characteristics of this disease which are:
Exclusively seen in only women
Appears to be hereditary and passed down through female family members
It affects women of all sizes
Lipedema fat has a pattern of being symmetrical or bilateral
Lipedema fat strikes certain target areas: lower extremities or upper arms
Lipedema fat is not affected by changes in diet or regular exercise like "normal" fat
The stages of lipedema and how to treat each one
Dr. Schwartz aims to help patients who have come to Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA to be correctly diagnosed. Lipedema is a disease that takes on definitive characteristics with each stage as it progresses. With every stage of the disease, patients experience more symptoms and "fluid build-up." Over time, these can lead to extreme levels of pain, loss of mobility, other health issues, and even be life-threatening.
Women in this stage are considered being in early lipedema. They begin to notice a buildup of fluid or weight gain in certain areas, particularly their lower extremities such as their legs, hips or buttocks. The increase in subcutaneous fat generally has little effect on the lymphatic system in this stage, but women do notice an increase in swelling and physical changes to their appearance. The skin texture is smooth, but they appear to have a more "inverted triangle shape" to their body type.
Treatment: Massage therapy, compression garments, and maintaining a healthy diet with regular exercise are the most common treatment options. Lymphatic-sparing liposuction with a board-certified plastic surgeon and lipedema expert like Dr. Schwartz can lessen the buildup and cosmetically preserve the way a patient looks at the same time.
Women notice more visible signs in this stage of the disease. The fat accumulation in the target areas increases, which can decrease circulation. Skin texture begins to change and is no longer as smooth. More amounts of fatty tissue or lipomas are more visible, making skin look uneven. Even though soft to the touch still, skin indentations become more prevalent, causing a noticeable change to a women's lower extremities or upper body. Inflammation and swelling become increasingly worse and more frequent with daily activities.
Treatment: Massage therapy, compression garments, staying active with walking or water activities, and lymphatic-sparing liposuction to lessen and break up fatty accumulation to increase better circulation.
Stage 3 and 4
The extreme stages of lipedema involve each symptom becoming more intense and an increase in fatty fluid buildup in the target areas. Patients struggle with constant inflammation, swelling, and skin becomes painful to the touch. Skin texture is marble-like in appearance, and excessive lipedema fat causes heavy folds of skin. As it advances to stage 4, skin texture in the target areas becomes thicker, which increases in weight, causing women to become more immobile. Women endure chronic pain in this last stage of the disease, and medical concerns regarding their lymphatic system are more of a concern.
Treatment: the primary treatment goal for stages 3 and 4 is to increase circulation while providing women pain relief and improving their mobility to remain active. Lymphatic-sparing liposuction or water-assisted liposuction are the main treatment options. In some cases, Dr. Schwartz will have to consider water-assisted liposuction and skin removal surgery to provide women in later stages with a viable treatment option.
Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA, is dedicated to helping women with this disease. Women can get emotional support and treatment options to live with the symptoms of this painful, progressive disease while working closely with a well-renown plastic surgeon and lipedema expert like Dr. Jaime Schwartz. Treatment and intervention can help slow down this disease and allow women to have a better quality of life while living with lipedema. If you are concerned you may have symptoms of early lipedema or even be in the later stages of the disease, we encourage you to call Total Lipedema Care today.
*definition of lipedema