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What is Lipedema?

Lipedema is a condition distinguished by the gathering of large amounts of adipose tissue, generally in the legs, and occurs almost exclusively in women patients. Women of all body types and sizes may suffer from Lipedema whether they’re of a healthy weight or morbidly obese. The excess deposit of fat cells from the waist down creates an unsymmetrical body shape from top to bottom with a great distinction between the upper body and the lower. Usually the ankles are left unaffected by Lipedema and appear otherwise normal. As the condition worsens, patients become more and more disproportionately large in their bottom half as fat cells continue to expand.

The Causes of Lipedema

stage 1 lipedema

As far as what causes Lipedema, there are a few possibilities. The condition can be hereditary so if a mother or grandmother suffered from the condition, a daughter may as well. Usually, the symptoms of this condition are triggered during puberty and may become worse during pregnancy or menopause as hormonal fluctuations affect the body and spark further growth of this adipose tissue. Stressful situations in a woman’s life may also trigger Lipedema. Stress resulting from a divorce, job loss or death in the family stimulates high levels of cortisol which can lead to an inflammation of Lipedema where it’s already a threat. The exact causes of Lipedema are not known, these are merely factors that tend to contribute to the development of Lipedema.

One of the most frustrating and disheartening aspects of this condition for the women who struggle is the realization that Lipedema cannot simply be treated through proper diet and exercise. Some patients have sought bariatric surgery in an attempt to lose weight overall as they’ve watched their bodies grow larger and larger and worried about the immobility and pain that is associated with such. When bariatric surgery is performed and the patient does begin to lose weight however, it’s mostly seen from the waist up leaving the patient with a more distinct disproportion than before.

How Lipedema Treatments have Advanced

Thankfully, in the last few years, modern liposuction techniques  that spare lymphatics have made it possible for doctors to successfully treat Lipedema to not only improve the self-esteem of patients but to help prevent the pain and complications due to swelling of the legs. These modern treatment methods have been practiced in Europe quite regularly.  A few more surgeons in the U.S. are starting to properly recognize and treat Lipedema catching up to their  European colleagues.  Dr. Wright of the Laser Lipo and Vein Center has been diagnosing and treating this particular condition for a few years. He shares his knowledge and treatment techniques with other doctors on a regular basis through symposiums and other training events and is a top resource in the United States for patients struggling with Lipedema and looking for relief.