Lipedema is a condition where the fat becomes unevenly distributed underneath the skin, and usually appears in the legs and buttocks. While it is mainly a cosmetic issue, it can in advanced stages cause pain and other problems. Often, lipedema is mistaken for lymphedema and/or obesity.
The usual symptoms of lipedema are a larger lower half of the body, along with column-shaped legs. The legs are often tender and can bruise very easily. A common way to think about lipedema is having the top half of the body wear size 8 clothing, while the bottom half is a size 16. If the condition is allowed to progress, fat will continue to build up. Your body will then begin to grow heavier. Additionally, the lipedema fat may start to collect in the arms.
The fat cells can also start to block the vessels of your lymphatic system. This system, when working normally, balances the body’s fluid levels and protects against infections. A blockage of this system will block the drainage of lymph fluid, which can lead to lymphedema — a fluid buildup. Lymphedema, if not treated, can to lead to infections, delay of wound healing, development of fibrosis or scar-like tissues, and hardening of the skin in the legs.
While the exact cause of lipedema is unknown, it is suspected that hormones may play a role. This is because lipedema affects women, and often starts or gets worse at puberty, pregnancy, after gynecological surgery, and about the time of menopause. According to statistics, up to 11% of all women are affected by lipedema. Many authorities also believe that genes may play a role, as many women with lipedema have family members who also have the condition.
Lipedema will not subside just through diet and exercise; however, maintaining a healthy routine will help reduce non-lipedema fat and inflammation. The main treatment for lipedema is manual lymphatic drainage. This is a massage technique that stimulates lymph fluid flow in blocked areas. This type of therapy may also include wearing compression stockings or garments that can reduce fluid buildup by increase the pressure in the affected areas.
Other treatment for more advanced cases include liposuction, including water-assisted and tumescent techniques. If you are experiencing lipedema symptoms, it is important to get the proper diagnosis and begin treat as soon as possible. At the Laser Lipo and Vein Center, we will sit down with you and help you get this condition under control. Contact us today for more information!