By Russell Becker, DO, Vascular Surgeon
Most of us are familiar with lymphedema, which is a buildup of lymphatic fluid in the arms and legs. Usually, lymphedema is a secondary issue that arises after cancer treatment or lymph node removal.
Lymphedema is a dangerous disorder and needs to be treated by a certified lymphatic therapist, who is trained to properly massage the body and lymph nodes to remove the excess fluid safely from the limbs.
Lipedema, also known as lipedema, is very often confused with lymphedema, but the two ailments are of entirely different makers and causes. Lipedema is a painful syndrome where pathologic fatty deposits accumulate in the lower half of the body. Women are more susceptible to the disorder and often are unfortunately underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed altogether.
The fatty deposits in the legs are not the same as typical fat that runs throughout the body. The cause is widely unknown, but it is thought to be acute and possibly related to obesity in some cases. It’s often referred to as “painful fat syndrome” since it causes a great deal of discomfort to the individuals suffering from the disorder.
Conservative approaches usually begin with being treated by a lymphatic therapist. The therapist will try and massage out the deposits much in the same way as they do with lymphatic drainage. Consequently, patients with lipedema often have the underlying lymphatic fluid buildup in the legs, as well. So, the lymphatic therapist can offer some relief in these situations. Compression garments can also help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the disorder.
A more aggressive, but stabilizing treatment is liposuction (a form of liposuction that doesn’t disrupt lymphatic fluid), which removes the fatty deposits from the body permanently. Eighteen million women in the US have lipedema, and unfortunately, it can cause physical debilitations and physiological distress.
Understanding and Differentiating Lymphedema and Lipedema is Critical for your Overall Health and Outcome
• Lymphedema is associated with radiation treatment, lymph disorders and cancers
• Lipedema is spontaneous and may be worsened by obesity
• Lymphedema is fluid retention in the limbs
• Lipedema is fatty deposits in the legs and sometimes the arms, which causes pain
Not all physicians can treat lipedema. It’s critical to get a proper diagnosis and precise treatment from a specialist that is familiar with the condition.
Dr. Becker is a board certified vascular surgeon in Naples that is well-known by his peers for his expertise and ability to properly care for patients with both lymphedema and lipedema.
Russell Becker, DO, Vascular Surgeon
Dr. Becker received his fellowship training in vascular and endovascular surgery at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is board-certified by the American
Osteopathic Board of Surgery, he’s a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, and he retains active memberships with the Society for Vascular Surgery and the Florida Vascular Society.
Dr. Becker has experience and interest in all areas of vascular and endovascular surgery, including treatment of conditions like carotid artery disease, hemodialysis access creation and maintenance, and diseases of the veins.
Beyond performing surgery, Dr. Becker is a well published author of vascular surgery literature. He has previously served as an investigator in numerous new and developing clinical device trials and has been a part of the clinical faculty in vascular surgery at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing, Michigan.