A toddler in Minnesota was born with a rare condition called lymphedema which is a genetic disorder that causes extreme swelling all over the body. The build-up of lymph fluid has caused the hands of Cora Ruben to swell to three times their normal size which is a “giant size” for a toddler. In order to reduce the size of the swelling, doctors are turning to liposuction to address the issue.
Liposuction and Swelling on the Body
Even though Cora has swelling all over her body, the area of her body that is most impacted by the condition is her hands. The other parts of her body that are swollen include her legs, feet and belly.
The build-up of the lymph fluid is only expected to get bigger as she gets older. After many failed treatment efforts, her parents have learned that the size of her hands can actually be reduced through the use of liposuction.
During a recent interview, her father said “Her hands are obviously the biggest thing that people see. But what people don’t know is she’s actually got it in most of her body. It’s through her abdomen, both legs, both feet. Her genitals, through her arms. As she gets older, it’s only going to get worse.”
Her mother had a normal pregnancy but, soon after giving birth, the doctors treating the baby noticed there was something odd about the size of Cora’s hands.
At first, they simply assumed that the growing size of her hands was nothing more than an odd side effect of the birth. They simply thought that the size of the hands would go down on their own as the weeks passed following the birth of Cora.
Eventually, her parents took Cora to see a pediatrician and that is when it was first suggest that she might be suffering from lymphedema. As she continued to make visits to the doctor and have treatments for her condition, the suggestion was eventually made to try liposuction as a treatment.
Types of Lymphedema
Lymphedema is a condition that occurs when the lymphatic system stops working effectively. The lymphatic system is the network of glands that help to fight infections and also remove excess fluid. The condition can impact any area of the body and it can cause swelling in the tissues. In general, there are two types of lymphedema:
- Primary lymphedema is the type that Cora is suffering from and is causing her swelling. It is a rare genetic disorder that comes about due to mutations in the genes that are responsible for the development of the lymphatic system.
- Secondary lymphedema can occur after someone’s lymphatic system becomes damaged. The damage can happen if a person has undergone surgery for cancer that involved removing sections of the lymphatic system. It can also occur after a patient has radiotherapy, certain infections or inflammation or if they are severely obese.
The condition is incurable which means that it will only get worse as time continues to pass
Liposuction for a Toddler
In general, there are some treatments performed on a regular basis, such as massaging, to help the flow of lymph fluid in a patient. However, nothing was working for Cora.
Her mother told a news outlet that, in the case of Cora, “It has been growing, and that’s what alarmed doctors and her physical therapist. It is still worsening and we haven’t been able to control it like you usually can with massages, wrapping and compression.”
Her parents were afraid they were out of medical options until a medical expert suggested they visit the Földi Clinic in Hinterzarten, Germany. They flew there to meet Professor Etelka Földi. Professor Foldi is a leading expert in the condition and she prescribed a lymph drainage massage.
After further examination of Cora’s hands, Professor Földi made the discovery that lymph fluid was only responsible for about 20% of Cora’s hands. The other 80% was actually fatty tissue. Once this discovery was made, Professor Foldi determined the reason that her swelling wasn’t responding was because the fat in her hands was keeping the doctors from appropriately compressing her hands.
The medial professionals examining Cora are not sure what is causing the fatty tissue to build up in her hands since this is not a condition that is usually associated with lymphedema.
To treat the issue, Professor Földi suggested performing liposuction on her hands. Once the liposuction removed the fat from her hands, doctors were able to massage the hands as well as place compression bandages to help reduce the rest of the swelling.
Even though there is still some residual swelling, her parents have seen a good amount of improvement in Cora’s hands once the cosmetic liposuction procedure was performed.
According to Cora’s mother, “Her ability to pick up things is just tremendously better. We’re able to push the fluid, her hands are soft, they’re not hard, they’re not heavy anymore.”