3 Signs You Have Lipedema

Lipedema is a condition that affects nearly 11% of women. Lipedema causes the fat to become distributed in an asymmetrical way, just beneath the skin, and usually occurs in the legs and buttocks. While lipedema usually starts as purely a cosmetic issue, it can lead to pain and other problems. Lipedema is often mistaken for obesity or lymphedema.

What Causes Lipedema?

The true cause of lipedema is unknown, however, it is suspected that female hormones play a role, since the condition affects mainly women. Additionally, it starts and/or worsens at puberty, pregnancy, and around the time of menopause.

Symptoms of Lipedema

The usual symptoms of lipedema are large, column-like legs that have a large lower half. The legs often become tender and bruise easily. One way to think about it is that the top half of your body is a size eight, while the lower half may be a size 16. If lipedema is allowed to progress, the fat and fluid will continue to build causing your lower body to become increasingly heavier. The lipedemic fat can also start to collect in your arms.

Lipedema fat can start to block the vessels of the lymphatic system. This is the system that balances body fluid level, along with protecting against infection. The blockage can lead to improper drainage of the lymph fluids, which can lead to lymphedema. If this condition is not treated, lymphedema can lead to problems, including delayed wound healing, infections, development of fibrosis, and/or hardening of the skin.

Treating Lipedema

There is no true cure for lipedema, but there are several things you can do to reduce the effects and symptoms. Diet and exercise will not reduce lipedema fat; however, you should still undertake those things because they can help reduce non-lipedema fat and inflammation. Complete decongestive therapy can also ease the symptoms. Treatment methods for lipedema include processes such as:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage — This is a form of massage that stimulates the lymphatic fluid flow around blocked areas.
  • Compression — This is the use of bandages or compression garments that will increase pressure to lessen the odds of fluid build up.
  • Liposuction — Liposuction techniques can remove the lipedema fat.

Dr. Thomas Wright of the Laser Lipo and Vein Center says, “It is important that lipedema be properly diagnosed and treated, so the possibility of complications can be eliminated.” Should you want to know more about lipedema, please call us to schedule a consultation.