Lipedema Before and After Treatment: What to Expect and Tips for a Successful Road to Recovery


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If you’re seriously considering surgical treatment to help manage your lipedema symptoms, learn what to expect before, during, and post-op.

Like most medical disorders, lipedema possesses both general and specific characteristics, including treatment management expectations.  While each lipedema patient’s treatment journey will vary, there are common variables one can expect and requisite steps to take that will ensure a successful road to recovery and yield the most desired, yet realistic, results.  Most lipedema sufferers will begin to consider surgical intervention in the latter stages of the fat deposition disorder due to increased, daily discomfort, excessive swelling, and unsightly bruising.  Not to mention, the probability of the body’s lymphatic system being compromised is an uncomfortable possibility.  After all, there is no definitive cure for lipedema, but there is help and surgical intervention has proved successful for most lipedema patients in the management of the disorder.  The most common and viable treatment option to help manage advanced lipedema is usually done through liposuction using an innovative water-assisted technique.  Here is a generalized overview of what you can expect before, during, and after surgery.

Before Lipedema Treatment

Before surgery, expect a deep, detailed discussion with your doctor regarding your treatment trajectory that will be custom-tailored specifically for you, your body, and your journey for a full, successful recovery. No treatment plan is one-size-fits-all.  Keep in mind, most cases will require additional surgeries to yield the best results that will limit/eliminate pain, swelling, and inflammation, as well as increase mobility and improve the patient’s quality of life.  Prior to surgery:

  • Stop smoking
  • Refrain from taking medications and/or supplements, as advised by your doctor
  • Be well-rested
  • Arrive with a family member or trusted friend who can help assist you on your travel home, as you will be temporarily driving impaired

During Lipedema Treatment

The most obvious reasons for undergoing surgical intervention for lipedema is to eliminate increasingly unbearable pain, swelling, and bruising.  However, pain during the procedure is minimal at most, yet should be expected.  Patients will likely experience a pinching sensation as the fluid from the water-assisted technique is inserted into the adipose tissue and should last no longer than 15-30 minutes.  During the “fat extraction” part of the procedure, expect to feel pressure, but no pain.

Post-Op Lipedema Treatment

Immediately following surgery, patients will be moved to a table where excess drainage of fluid from tissue is encouraged and custom-made compression wraps/garments are uniquely fitted.  Patients will be instructed to wear their new compression wear for 24 hours for the first two weeks following surgery, then 12 hours per day for a prescribed length of time.  Again, each individual will recover and heal at their own rate, hence the need for multiple follow-up appointments with your doctor.  What else to expect:

  • Engage in low-moderate walking for 15-30 minutes immediately following surgery, and up to 2 miles the next day, to encourage continued fluid drainage.
  • Resume a normal, healthy diet to promote optimal healing.
  • Guzzle a glass of water at least every hour to further flush fluids and toxins.
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy will be scheduled once or twice weekly, accompanied by additional bandaging and compression wear, to reduce swelling and prevent lymphatic system challenges.
  • Pain medication will be prescribed, though most lipedema patients have reported not needing them.
  • Rest and relaxation

Recovery and Results

Most patients have reported little to no pain in the first few weeks following their surgery.  However, slight discomfort and bruising for at least 2-3 weeks as a result from the actual surgical procedure should be expected.  As mentioned earlier, every patient’s road to recovery will be unique to them, but it usually takes a full year for complete recovery with full results, so patients shouldn’t get discouraged or disheartened if they don’t see jaw-dropping results right away.  Most patients will notice a visible reduction in their body mass immediately after surgery.  And, as the body continually heals and re-sculpts, re-structuring of the connective tissue will soon develop.  Patients can expect to return to work in as little as 2 weeks and resume physical activities within 4-6 weeks.

As you embark on your lipedema treatment journey at Total Lipedema Care, Dr. Schwartz will continually assess your body’s aesthetic through every stage of the recovery process and determine if additional surgeries are needed – and where.  Lipedema patients should expect there will mostly likely be more surgeries down the road to achieve complete freedom from pain, improved mobility, and a more quality-filled life.  Dr. Schwartz will use his best medical judgment for each patient to help alleviate any pressure/pain, while boosting the efficacy of the lymphatic and vascular systems.

To learn more, please contact our Beverly Hills, California office to schedule a consultation with any of our highly trained specialists.