Today’s blog will summarize a paper by Anne Williams published in the Journal of Lymphoedema in 2019. The title of the paper is “A Review of the Literature Relating to Liposuction in Women with Lipoedema and Dercum’s Disease.” (Note that “lipoedema” is an alternative spelling of lipedema.)
The author reviewed 10 studies from 2006 to 2019, in order to assess the outcomes for liposuction in women with lipedema and/or Dercum’s Disease (a related disease to lipedema). Liposuction is the suction-assisted removal of fat tissue via a thin tube inserted through small incisions in the skin. She comments that, although liposuction is not a cure for lipedema and it is not for everyone, it is an often sought-after treatment when symptoms are perceived as severe.
Favorable outcomes of liposuction have included:
- decreased pain, sensitivity to pressure, bruising, and swelling
- improved quality of life and self-esteem
- decreased reliance on conservative therapy such as MLD and compression therapy
The author of this paper reported that in one study of 111 women, 100% had improvement in mobility after liposuction. Age did not appear to be a factor in the success of the procedure, but most women were in their 30s and 40s. Lastly, women with stage 2 and 3 lipedema had much more significant changes than those with stage 1.
The incidence of adverse effects reported was very low in all of the examined studies. For instance, in one study 1.4% got a postoperative wound infection. Other adverse effects included: hemorrhage, bruising, post-op swelling, fat embolism, pulmonary edema, phlebitis, and DVT.
The author reports that the available literature on liposuction surgery for lipedema is still very limited. This was the case even more so about liposuction for Dercum’s. The author stated that these studies used very small sample sizes and the follow-up post-surgery was too short to allow a good analysis of long-term effects. In the author’s opinion, there is not yet robust evidence to set criteria for who is and who is not suitable for liposuction.
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