Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lipedema, Lymphedema and Fat Legs


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The 4 main causes for enlarging leg girth or circumference are lipedema (accumulation of fat in the legs), lymphedema (obstruction of lymph flow in the leg), obesity and impaired venous blood circulation (venous stasis). Lymphedema is observed as swelling that usually involves the feet and shows up as impaired flow on lymphangiograms or lymphoscintigraphy . With time the swelling becomes hard and uncompressible and the skin breaks down and becomes infected. Impaired venous circulation is observed as swelling with brown darkening of the skin color, skin break down and inflammation. The blocked veins are visualized by doppler sonography studies using sound waves transmitted through the skin. This blog will focus on lipedema also known as lipoedema in Europe.

The areas of fat concentration tend to be abdominal in aging men, hips and thighs in aging women and buttocks in certain races as those individuals age. The age at which this occurs varies from person to person. Changes in metabolism and fat deposition can also occur more quickly at puberty, after childbirth, gynecologic surgery, with the onset of thyroid disease or menopause. It is easier to lose fat from areas in which your body tends to not concentrate fat. The fat doesn't go to one place and then another as in first, second etc.. It goes all over but more of it is stored in specific areas and it is mobilized from other areas more easily. In some cases the concentration can be dramatic such as very large buttocks with skinny arms and legs, steatopygia, which is more common in certain African tribes.

In some Caucasians, predominantly of European decent, the concentration can be greatest in the upper arms and thighs or entire legs and has come to be known as lipedema. It can be very hard to lose the fat in these areas of high concentration by weight loss diets.

Lipedema is characterized by being almost exclusively in women, it can be inherited, it occurs independent of weight (but obesity is an important risk factor for its severity and prognosis), it is symmetric bilaterally with visible sharp demarcations of fat accumulation vs. nonaccumulation at the ankles, elbows and or waist, it does not diminish with limb elevation, it cannot be diminished by diet or exercise due the high fat concentrating abilities of hyperplastic fat deposits and it spares the feet and hands. In the early stages the legs can seem disproportionately large compared to the rest of the body.
Comparing fat in a leg with lipedema vs. a leg with normal fat under the microscope we see more fat cells per square inch, cells that are more round and more purple staining material between the fat cells. That material consists of inflammatory and scar cells and the substances produced by those cells.

Aids for making the correct diagnosis are (duplex) sonography to rule out venous stasis or thrombosis, the waist-hip index or the waist-height index and lymphoscintigraphy to rule out lymphedema. None of which were documented or performed in this patient. It is unclear if lipedema is just early lymphedema or a cause of later lymphedema. Some believe that the lipedema process affects nerves and blood vessels as well as lymphatics thereby being a cause of chronic pain, easy bruising and progressively restricted mobility. The pathophysiology of that is unclear as diminished use of a limb alone can cause chronic pain syndromes. The mixing of lymphedema and lipedema patients in many published treatment studies invalidates their conclusions. There is no data to support the treating of lipedema over or before obesity in those patients who have both.

The severity of lipedema is staged as
  • stage 1-fat accumulation with smooth skin surface contour
  • stage 2-fat accumulation with uneven or pitted skin surface as seen with cellulite
  • stage 3-fat accumulation into distinct lumps with the formation of folds of skin
Stage 1 with demarcation or band where fat accumulation stops at the ankles

Stage 1 Lipedema
At the more severe Stage 3 the weight distribution when standing becomes concentrated on the inner half of the foot and the below knee part of the leg splays outward leading to ankle and knee joint problems.
Altered weight distribution

The symptom-based therapy of lipedema consists of conservative (compression, complex decongestive physiotherapy, manual lymphatic drainage, exercise) and surgical treatments (liposuction) but there is no cure. Some favor water assisted liposuction while others favor laser assisted liposuction. This is basically the same treatment protocol employed for lymphedema and just like lymphedema the surgical treatment is only medically necessary in more advanced cases after complete evaluation and treatment of other contributing factors.

Cellulite - Cottage Cheese Thighs
Various Forms of Liposuction
Love Handles Liposuction

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ear Pinning - Otoplasty


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Prominent ears can be socially traumatic for children in their early school years.
It is sad that we have non-surgical ways to treat this in infants using the EarWell so they never have to go through this type of bullying yet many parents do not have their babies treated.

The surgical treatment in children or adults involves making an incision behind the ear and placing shaping sutures in the cartilage to create the missing fold that makes the ear stick out. Over the course of a month or two the cartilage reshapes itself to the shape held by the sutures so they are no longer necessary, though we do not usually go back to take them out. Depending on surgeon preference sutures are placed between the cartilage and the side of the head, skin may be removed from behind the ear and/or some ear cartilage is removed to obtain the best longest lasting ear shape.
otoplasty ear pinning

otoplasty ear pinning

otoplasty ear pinning
Before  and After Ear Pinning Otoplasty


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Friday, July 4, 2014

New Break Through Treatment for Keloids


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Keloids are the overgrowth of scar tissue in response to skin injury or irritation. They frequently persist at the site of injury, often recur after surgical removal and overgrow the boundaries of the original wound. They can itch, be painful, restrict movement, interfere with sleep, block a vital function like hearing and cause cosmetic disfigurement with significant psychological effects. The usual treatments of surgery, radiation, cryotherapy and injections can be costly and time consuming. The Division of Bioengineering, School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore has just developed a new treatment modality that could make it easier and cheaper to treat this problem. They combined a microneedle transdermal delivery system with medications like 5-fluorouracil that have been used to treat keloids. The system consists of a flexible patch, containing microneedles 0.7 to 0.9mm in length and 1/3 mm in diameter, that is applied to the skin. The microneedles are loaded with the drug, 5-fluoro-uracil (5-FU) in a solid form. The patches are flexible so they can adjust to surface contour. The microneedles penetrate the superficial skin and swell on exposure to tissue moisture opening pores along their surface that release the drug. The release is slow and sustained rather than a sudden release of the drug. The 5-FU concentration in each patch can be varied as needed. Their price points on the product are in the range of 20 cents per patch and their goal is for patients to treat themselves replacing the patch every 12 hours without ever seeing a doctor.


Micro-needle transdermal delivery system patch

So far they have only proven the patch can be applied to pig skin, the medication is delivered over time and the product stops keloid cell proliferation in petri dishes containing such cells.. Trials in human beings have not begin so we are no way near FDA approval. We do not even know what the optimal doseage for these patches should be in different patients.The 5-FU has the potential to leave you with an open wound where the keloid once was. Therefore, I cannot see the FDA allowing a chemotherapy agent like 5-FU to be used by patients without a doctor prescription or supervision.

Scars, Keloids and Hypertrophic scars

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Types of Breast Lift - Mastopexy


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New plastic surgery statistics released 3/31/14 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that breast lift procedures are growing at twice the rate of breast implant surgeries. Since 2000, breast lifts have grown by 70 percent, increasing from 53,000 in 2000 to 90,000 in 2013 vs only a 37% increase in breast augmentation surgery over the same time period. Breast implants are still by far the most performed cosmetic surgery in women, but lifts are steadily gaining. In 2013, 70% of these women were between the ages of 30 and 54.

At a young age the breast skin is taut and elastic and the ligaments holding the breast tissue to the chest wall are short and tight. With aging, exposure to gravity, weight changes and pregnancy the ligaments and skin are stretched and disrupted leading eventually to drooping sagging breasts, especially after breast involution following pregnancy and breast feeding. Surgery to correct this drooping is termed a mastopexy or breast lift and involves surgery on the breast skin and/or deeper breast tissue. The pencil test is a simple way for a woman to assess if breast lift surgery could be beneficial. A pencil is placed under her breast.  If the breast tissue holds the pencil in place against the chest that implies that there’s a hanging nature to the breast that may be improved with a lift. In assessing these patients the surgeon needs to know the history of breast sizes with changes in weight or pregnancy, breast measurements (breast volume, amount of breast skin envelope filling, nipple position on the chest, distribution of breast tissue, skin quality and amount, areola size, amount of skin show below the nipple on standing and asymmetry/symmetry).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Five Skin Care Tips for a Healthy Skin


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This is a guest post by Alyssa Furnell Content Writer/Proof Reader at Authority Specialists. Authority Specialists provides top-quality, value-filled content with the goal of building the authority of your website.



For busy individuals wanting to have their skin pampered, going for an intensive skin care is not easy. If you have a healthy lifestyle and practice good hygiene - especially in caring for your skin, then there is no need to go to a dermatology clinic. Unless of course your problem is getting rid of those hideous scars, then you really need the help of a professional, where they have a laser clinic.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Laser Hair Removal and Hidradenitis Suppuritiva


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Lasers and Laser Hair Removal

As described in my previous blog Hidradenitis of the Armpits Hidradenitis occurs when a plug of dead skin in the duct of a gland emptying into a hair follicle initiates an infectious process as bacteria multiply within the plugged gland. As the gland swells a boil becomes visible. The obstructed gland or boil ruptures into the deep layers of the skin; adjacent glands become involved; and abscesses form. Subsequently, multiple draining sinuses or holes appear on the skin surface and the whole hair bearing area may become inflamed. Such inflammation may result in star shaped skin scars and tunneling, causing ridging of the skin. The association of Hidradenitis with hair follicles has fed the notion that removal of this hair early in the process can cure or ameliorate Hidradenitis. Since the 1990s laser treatment to remove unwanted hair has become increasingly popular therefore such treatments should to some degree treat Hidradenitis.

A laser is basically a container of some medium (such as a liquid dye, gas, etc) into which an electrical charge  or flash of light is introduced. The charge or flash excites electrons in the material at the molecular level and the material gives off a narrow band width of light as the electrons come out of excitation. The exact wavelength of light created depends on the material itself and the characteristics of the charge or flash. Mirrors inside the container bounce the light around to create a chain reaction of molecular excitation and the emitted light is allowed to escape through a pinhole. This single wavelength coherent light is then focused down into a hand piece so it can be applied to tissue. The effect on the tissues depends on which tissue components absorb the specific wavelength of light, the depth into the the tissue that the laser can penetrate, the duration of exposure to the light (pulse width), the power of the light at the point of tissue contact, etc.

Laser penetration is a factor of light wavelength with usually greater penetration for lasers with higher wavelengths of light. The wavelength also governs which tissue component will absorb a specific wavelength.
 
 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do It Yourself Plastic Surgery Devices and Gadgets


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As mentioned in my previous blog Plastic Surgery in South Korea South Koreans get more plastic surgery per capita than citizens of any other country in the world. In that country it is seen as a prerequisite for success in work and relationships. The patients are also getting younger so patients in their first or second year of high school are becoming common. With this high demand a number of citizens especially teens cannot afford to have the surgery so they are turning to cheaper devices and gadgets to mold their features into a desired shape or appearance. Most of these devices are designed to supposedly change facial appearance and are sold online. The sellers of these devices make claims that have no scientific basis and there are no studies proving the efficacy of any of these devices. In fact looking at some of these devices would make one think their application is more suited to a form of torture. The use or overuse of these devices could very well result in infections, permanent scars or other irreversible deformities especially in young people who are still growing.

Here is a list of available devices.

Double Fold Eyelid Glasses

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bandages and Dressings for #HidradenitisSuppuritiva


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As described in my previous blog post Hidradenitis of the Armpits - Boils Under the Armpits a plug of dead skin in the duct of a gland emptying into a hair follicle in areas of opposing skin surfaces like the armpits, under the breasts and in the groin initiates an infectious process as bacteria multiply within the plugged gland creating a skin boil. The obstructed gland or boil ruptures into the deep layers of the skin; adjacent glands become involved; and abscesses form. Subsequently, multiple draining sinuses or holes appear on the skin surface and the whole hair bearing area may become inflamed. We call this process #HidradenitisSuppuritiva (HS).

As I described my first choice of treatment for this process is surgical removal of the involved skin and closure of the resulting wound with a flap of adjacent normal skin. However, this aggressive surgery is not always the best near term option because of insurance, financial, work or personal reasons. For early stages of the disease temporizing the situation with topical treatments is appropriate and can provide significant relief.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 Things to Consider Before Having Plastic Surgery


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1. What is my surgeons training background?

Traditionally, doctors from just four medical specialties — plastic surgery, dermatology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), and ophthalmology — have handled the bulk of cosmetic offerings, including everything from minimally invasive aesthetic treatments like botulinum toxin (sold under the brand name Botox) to more involved procedures like face-lifts. And those specialists spend years honing their chops in residency training programs that teach skills unique to each specialty in addition to basic surgical skills. Now doctors in these and other specialties may take a weekend course as the only preparation for doing your surgery. “Unfortunately, this is an industry where the most creative, assertive, sexiest marketing often drives the business, but it may not be someone with the best experience,” said David B. Sarwer, a professor of psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Smoking Adversely Affects Facial Aging


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The link between smoking and premature facial aging was first made in 1971. Surveys of twins attending the annual Twin Days Festival, held in Twinsburg, Ohio between 2007 and 2010 conducted by Case Western Reserve University department of Plastic Surgery have corroborated this. In each pair of twins, either one twin smoked and the other did not, or one twin smoked at least five years longer. Pairs in which neither smoked or the difference in smoking was less than 5 years were excluded.Fifty-seven of the included 79 twin pairs studied were women, and the average age was 48. The twins completed questionnaires regarding their medical and lifestyle histories specifically sunscreen use, alcohol intake, work stress and smoking history. A professional photographer took standardized, close-up photographs of each twin's face. Without knowledge of the twins' smoking history, plastic surgeons then analyzed the twins' facial features in the photos, including grading of wrinkles and age-related facial features to identify "specific components of facial aging" that were affected by smoking.

Smoking Adversely Affects Facial Aging
The sister on the left smoked 17 years longer than the one on the right which accounts for larger jowls, lip wrinkles and lower eyelid bags not present in the sister on the right as well as the deeper frown and laugh lines in the sister on the left.

The conclusion of the study was that the effects of smoking on facial aging are most apparent in the lower two-thirds of the face specifically lower eyelid bags, malar bags, upper eyelid skin excess, the lips, laugh lines and jowls.  The forehead wrinkles, frown lines and crow's feet wrinkles were not statistically different.  Smokers had more sagging of the upper eyelids, as well as more bags of the lower eyelids and under the eyes. Twins who smoked also had higher scores for facial wrinkles, including more pronounced nasolabial folds, wrinkling of the upper and lower lips and sagging jowls. I had once had a patient who smoked only holding the cigarette on the right side of her mouth. She had aging wrinkles of the right upper lip but not of the left upper lip. In her case one side of her face aged more than the other.

The take home message is do not smoke to lessen the need for cosmetic surgery and do not smoke afterward to maintain the results of cosmetic surgery for a longer period of time.


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