Lipedema histology shows macrophage inflammation in lipedema tissue. Dilated blood and lymphatic microvessels are present as well as an increase in the size of fat cells and development of new blood vessels in lipedema thigh skin and fat tissue. Unfortunately, lymphatic vessels do not develop new vessels along with the increase in blood vessels and fluid accumulates in the tissue.
Lipedema, like other chronic diseases, certainly causes inflammation and changes to the number of immune cells in the subcutaneous tissue compared to BMI matched individuals without lipedema. The fat cells with lipedema also do not secrete normal levels of hormones. There is no evidence that lipedema patients are immunologically suppressed. Lipedema patients generally do not have elevated sedimentation (sed) rates and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels unless they develop obesity on the abdomen or trunk or develop lymphedema. The complement pathway (CH50 or CH100) overall appears to be elevated in activity likely due to the inflammation in the lipedema fat tissue.
Some laboratory abnormalities you may have if you have a chronic disease which may affect your immune system and have been reported to occur in some patients with lipedema:
Currently there is no published information on COVID and lipedema. Based on our understanding of Lipedema and COVID we do not expect lipedema patients to be at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 but because they have a chronic disease they may be at a higher risk for a more serious case of the disease/infection and may exhibit more severe symptoms simply because lipedema is a chronic medical condition.
According to JAMA article of the WHO data on the Chinese experience of the Coronavirus:
“Q: Who is most at-risk for getting severely sick from the coronavirus?
A: The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new, so we don’t yet understand exactly how it impacts specific groups of high-risk people. But, those who are thought to be most susceptible to serious complications of COVID-19 include people who:
Additionally, the CDC website says:
“Patients at higher risk for infection, severe illness, and poorer outcomes from COVID-19 should protect themselves. Guidance for patients includes:
COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Based upon available information date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.”
The best way to stay healthy, protect yourself and prevent spreading COVID-19 to others during this time is to:
If you feel like you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider.
Authors: Karen Herbst PhD, MD and Thomas Wright MD