Can Lymphedema Be Treated Surgically?
Liposuction is best known as a treatment to address stubborn pockets of fat that does not respond to diet and exercise. This procedure works by removing the stubborn fat cells through a specialized device. However, a specialized form of liposuction provides a surgical option for people diagnosed with advanced cases of lymphedema. But what is lymphedema and how can a treatment that removes fat provide any relief?
What Is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a medical condition that causes a build-up of fluid in the fatty tissue underneath the skin. This excess fluid causes swelling and discomfort, most often in the arms and legs, due to damage or dysfunction of the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, made up of lymph fluid, vessels and ducts, lymph nodes, and your tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus, filers fluid through the lymph nodes which picks up white blood cells and transports the fluid throughout the body and into the blood. When the lymphatic system is not working correctly, this fluid builds up in the body.
A diagnosis of lymphedema comes in stages, ranging from stage one where abnormal flow is only beginning to stage two where accumulation of fluids causes swelling that can be alleviated with elevation but where you can put pressure on the swollen area and experience “pitting.” Lymphedema can then progress to stages three and four when the fluid transforms into adipose tissue or fat and the affected area becomes dense and thick.
Specialized liposuction can provide an effective treatment option for those in the later stages of lymphedema.
When Is Liposuction a Treatment Option?
Because liposuction targets adipose, or fat cells, it is not an effective treatment option in the early stages of lymphedema. However, once a patient progresses into the later stages and the fluid build-up morphs into and creates a layer of adipose, then specialized liposuction can remove the swelling tissue that often causes debilitating pain and discomfort. In many cases, the use of liposuction can offer dramatic results and a major reduction of arm or leg size.
If you have been diagnosed with lymphedema that is causing excessive swelling and debilitating pain, our experienced liposuction surgeons may offer a solution. To learn more about how liposuction can help, call the team at Martin Plastic Surgery at (575) 521-7111 today to schedule a consultation.