What is lipedema?
Lipedema is a genetically mediated disorder of fat deposition that occurs almost exclusively in females. There is a symmetrical accumulation of fat in the legs, buttocks and hips that extends down to the ankles. In 70% of cases the swelling occurs in the arms and there is no foot involvement. A “cuff” can be found around the ankles and wrists. Patients often report a family history of “heavy legs”
Lipedema is often called “painful fat syndrome”. The swelling that occurs is due to an excess deposition of fatty tissue and fluid accumulation in the subcutaneous tissue, leaky vessels and fragility of the blood vessels. It is painful to the touch
Lipedema is often misdiagnosed and can be mistaken for regular obesity or lymphedema. The condition can progress to become Lymphedema. Patients are accused of being simply “fat,” which is not the case and is so invalidating and frustrating to the patients.
Symptoms of lipedema
As the fat increases, the lymphatic vessels are unable to move the fluids out of the body and the swelling increases. The symptoms include pain, bruising, swelling in the limbs and hypermobility of the joints, with reduced elasticity in the skin and knee. Patients often have flat feet and knee mal-alignment or instability,
Lipedema can occur in puberty or often in the 30′ s and there is a slow progression of symptoms and weight gain, leading to immobility. Lipedema may develop or worsen during pregnancy or surgery