Lipedema / lymphatic oedema


A lipedema is a genetic or hormonal fat distribution disorder which normally only affects women and girls. Initial signs of the illness develop to some extent during puberty, and then mostly intensify during or after pregnancy and in the menopause.

For those affected, this illness is a problem that is both medical and aesthetic and often causes a high level of psychological stress. The course of the disease is chronic and usually progressive if there is no therapy.

The cause of lipoedema is subcutaneous adipose tissue proliferation, which may affect the buttocks, thighs and arms. The parts of the body which are affected swell drastically, and they feel heavy and are sensitive to pressure. Callous nodes develop beneath the skin, and these are often painful to the touch. Lipedema causes columnar mutations and deformations of the legs. So-called »saddle bags« on the buttocks, hip and insides of the knees are typical.

Given that the cause of the disease is not to be found in eating too much or eating the wrong foods, attempts to shed weight by means of dieting or physical exercise do not bring about any improvement in the clinical picture. Often enough, in fact, those affected tend to have a slim upper body. If conservative therapies with lymphatic drainage, physiotherapy and compression stockings continue to be unsuccessful, surgical treatment by a plastic surgeon should be considered at an early stage to prevent the clinical picture from becoming chronic.

By careful, purposive surgical treatment, the surplus fatty tissue can be removed by means of liposuction. In this way, even large quantities can be removed safely. If the symptoms are extensive, liposuction may need to be performed in several stages.

Indentations may form in the skin after the operation, but these can be avoided to a large extent with special compression clothing. The surgical treatment of lipedema usually leads to a significant improvement in the overall situation and provides the affected person with great relief.

At present, it is proving difficult to get the health insurance providers to cover the costs.

A lymphatic oedema manifests itself in a disrupted outflow of tissue fluid, predominantly in the legs. Over time, this can lead to massive swelling of the tissue, which can take on absurd forms (e.g. so-called »elephantiasis«), and even with resolute conservative therapy including lymph drainage and compression wraps, this can only be mitigated to a certain extent and temporarily.

For the operative treatment of lymphatic oedema, which can have a variety of causes such as a disrupted outflow of lymph in the aftermath of a cancer operation, we work together with the Clinic for Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery at the Helios Klinikum Emil von Behring in Berlin Zehlendorf. Here, highly specialised reconstructive operations are performed to bring about long-term improvement in the outflow of lymph.

In our practice, we are integrated in a network of diagnosticians, self-help groups and therapists and also offer you our help. Since 2016, we have been co-organisers of »German Lymph Day«, held once a year. The next event is Saturday, March 18th, 2017.

DURATION OF OPERATION: 2 hours or longer, depending on the type of surgery

ANAESTHETIC: general anaesthetic / semi-conscious sedation

HOSPITALISATION: out-patient or brief in-patient stay

AFTER-TREATMENT: compression underwear on a permanent basis

PRESENTABILITY, RETURN TO WORK: normally after 3 – 5 days

SPORT: immediately if care is taken to protect the tissue, but no sport involving impact or vibration for 6 weeks


Ask for advice from us.

We’ll be glad to provide you with detailed information about this treatment. Simply get in touch with us now and obtain advice at an individual and absolutely personal level.
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Other microsurgical treatment methods

We also offer the following treatment methods from the fields of plastic and aesthetic surgery in our practice. Learn more.

HandSkin mutationsLipedema – lymphatic oedemaScarsChronic woundsTransgenderExcessive perspirationBurns sequelae