What is Lipoedema?

Lipoedema (Painful Fat Syndrome) is a connective tissue disorder. It is a progressive condition that affects many women.  This genetic fat disorder affects 11% of Australian women with various presentations.
There is no simple blood test or scan to diagnose Lipoedema, so the diagnosis is made by history and physical examination.
Physical Characteristics of Lipoedema are:
  • Legs are enlarged bilaterally and symmetrically (arms can also be affected)

  • Waist is small in proportion to the thighs, buttocks and legs

  • Fat deposition is bilateral and symmetric

  • Fat deposits are seen in the thighs, legs with NO involvement of the feet

  • Hard nodules that can be felt under the skin
  • Legs feel heavy
  • 30% of patients have arms and forearms involved with NO involvement of the hands

  • There are different stages and types of lipoedema 
  • There appears a 'cuff' around the ankle and a round pad of fat just below the knees

  • Waist is small in proportion to the hips, thighs, buttocks and legs

  • Family history (genetic pre-disposition)
  • Change is noticed in the limbs when significant hormonal events occur such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause
  • Diet and exercise have no effect on lipoedema fat/tissue.
  • Feet and hands are exempt and a 'cuff' or “bracelet” effect can appear just above the ankles and wrists.
  • Affected legs and arms are painful to touch

  • Affected legs and arms are cold

  • Evidence of dilated veins and bruising is commonly seen

  • The fat is soft to touch, wobbly and cold

  • The skin is always involved in Lipoedema and skin has a cellulite appearance. 






  • Legs bruise easily 
  • Legs feel heavy at the end of the day
  • Strong Family History of Lipoedema mainly affecting females though rare cases of it affecting males has been reported. You may inherit this from either side of your family.
  • The first sign of fat deposition in the thighs occur following the hormonal changes of puberty.
  • Pregnancy and menopause are two other periods where significant fat deposition and worsening of symptoms is noted.
  • It is a matter of great frustration and confusion that exercise or diet have no effect on reducing the fat in lipoedema.





The best long term results are seen in patients who are proactive and diligent with all conservative nonsurgical treatment methods before and after surgery.

Focus on reducing inflammation. It is not a one size size fits all approach, you must find what works for you.  Address any metabolic and endocrine imbalances (hormones) by a specialist endocrinologist/metabolic health physician with knowledge and experience working with Lipoedema.

A range of treatments reported to assist with inflammation and pain can include: Reducing stress, Low inflammation diet, low carbohydrate diet, low impact daily movement such as walking, aqua aerobics and yoga, vibration plates,  MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) therapy, Endermologie, Customised Lipoedema compression garments, Sequential Intermittent Pneumatic Compression devices.


SURGICAL TREATMENT OF LIPOEDEMA  - Is the only method to remove the diseased fat

Liposuction for Lipoedema is a surgical treatment to remove as much diseased fat as possible, limit disability, slow disease progression, reduce the risk of permanent lymphatic dysfunction and may assist in the reduction of pain symptoms.  

As of today,  Liposuction is the only method proven to safely remove the ' Lipoedema Fat'. However it is important to note that liposuction for Lipoedema provides a form of control but not a definitive cure.

Water Assisted Liposuction ( WAL Lipo or BODY JET)  is a precise and gentle technique where a high power water jet  separates and dislodges the fat cells  from the surrounding tissues with minimal damage to the lymphatics, while the suction simultaneously removes the fat that has been dislodged. 


Dr SOMIA'S EXPERIENCE - Treating Lipoedema patients since 2013

Dr Somia has been successfully treating lipoedema patients since 2013.    To schedule a time to see Dr Somia please call us on 9387 2110 or send us an email via our contact page.



My patients find it helpful to be a part of the support groups such as LASS (Lipoedema Australia Support Society), which facilitates exchange of information that may be useful. The Lipedema Foundation ( USA) and the Fat Disorders Society are research organisations. For more information please see, and
                                                                                    LIPOEDEMA AUSTRALIA LOGO 2019-1




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You will generally see Dr Somia 3 times before your surgery.   If you prefer one of these consultations can be held via telehealth.    Two consultations are required by law before a date for surgery is scheduled.   This is to allow you plenty of time to ask questions and feel comfortable about the procedure.   Your third consultation will assist us to prepare you for your surgery (ie paperwork, pre-operative testing). 



The surgery takes approximately  4 hours and requires an overnight stay in hospital.   Our fees include specialist plastic surgeon, specialist anaesthetist, fully accredited hospital theatre, hospital accommodation and 6 months aftercare.    A formal estimate will be provided after you have discussed your goals and what is possible to achieve them with Dr Somia.  



Each patient recovers at a different rate and anothers recovery should not be compared with yours.

Generally, initial recovery from swelling and bruising is approximately 4 weeks.   A return to normal activities can usually be expected after 6-12 weeks.   This procedures require a compression garment to be worn for 12 weeks (this is to assist with swelling and to ensure the skin and tissue re-adhere to the skin layers disturbed during the procedure). 

You can return to work when you feel well and if your employer has lighter duties for you and will allow you to take time to rest and move around.    Most patients take at least 4 weeks off work if they work in an office context.   Patients working outdoors or in a physical capacity may need to take up to 8 weeks off work whilst they recover.   Talk to us about your specific occupation and surgery.   

You can drive when the anaesthetic has worn off, your vision is clear, and you are pain free getting in and out of the car and whilst performing an emergency stop.   You should check your vehicle insurance policy for their requirements in this situation.  



All surgery carries risks. When travelling overseas on a plane whilst the expectation is a safe journey and arrival, it is understood things could go wrong. The choice of the airline based on safety record and flight path are important elements in determining risk. Similarly, for your surgery, the experience and expertise of your Surgeon, the skill of your anaesthetist and the standard of the hospital will determine the risk. Risks, both general and specific, will be discussed during your consultations and written information will be provided for you to take home.    

General risks include pneumonia, deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, stroke, heart attack, allergies, awareness, death, bleeding, infection, sensation change, haematoma and seroma, skin contour irregularities, damage to deeper structures, firmness, delayed healing and tissue death, exposed sutures, dog ears or additional skin golds, dressing issues, asymmetry, scars, lymphoedema and unsatisfactory results. 

Risks specific to Lipoedema surgery public distortion, ultrasound assisted liposuction, liposuction wetting solutions.    



Our practice privacy policy prevents sharing patient before and afters online.    Indicative before and after photos can be viewed during your consultation.     Please note the main objective of lipoedema surgery is management of the disease to improve mobility, aesthetics are secondary as the skin is involved and may affect the end result.

DISCLAIMERS:   All surgical procedures are performed by Specialist Plastic Surgeon, Dr Naveen Somia (MBBS PhD, FRACS - APHRA Reg:  MED 0001189889).  For full information on Dr Somia's qualifications and risk/recovery information on procedures please visit the procedure page on this website.  From July 1, 2023 all surgical procedures require a GP referral.
All surgery carries risks.  information provided is general only.  Outcomes experienced by one person do not necessarily reflect the outcomes of others given factors such as genetics, diet and exercise.  Please seek a 2nd opinion from a qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon.  

Book a consultation

or call: 02 9387 2110


Royal Australasian College of Surgeons


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