What Is Lipedema? A Specialist’s Guide to This Misdiagnosed Condition

Scientists first discovered lipedema in the 1940s. This illness is a deceptively difficult disorder in many ways. Despite its recognition all those decades ago, many experts are still unsure of its exact cause. So, what is lipedema, and why is it so difficult to diagnose?

Many experts have speculated that a gene causes lipedema. Unfortunately, it is common for women to receive a diagnosis of lipedema much later in their lives. Some experts speculate that this may be because the women who receive the diagnosis are also overweight. This can lead to some health professionals to act dismissively toward them. This is especially unfortunate as lipedema is not the same as obesity. Furthermore, lipedema is not the individual’s fault. There have been many reports about some doctors not understanding that dieting and occasional exercise will not resolve the issue. It is not easy to burn off lipedema fat cells. This is because these cells contain fluid. These deposits can occur in many places on the body, but they affect the legs, thighs, and buttocks. 

Common Symptoms Associated with Lipedema

Lipedema occurs when certain types of fat cells accumulate underneath specific areas of skin. Your body usually distributes these fat cells unevenly between your limbs. Most commonly, this affects an individual’s legs and lower body. There are multiple symptoms of lipedema that are common among all women who suffer from it. One of the most common symptoms revolves around the external appearance of the body. A body suffering from lipedema will often have swollen-looking legs, yet “normal-looking” ankles and feet. These areas may also feel abnormally cool in temperature, and the skin may feel softer than in other areas. Regions of the body affected by the illness may bruise more easily. Similarly, these affected areas may have more prominent veins that look like varicose veins.

Perhaps the most well-known symptom of this illness is the pain that the individual is likely to feel. This pain can range from mild to severe and can affect the sufferer in several ways. Constant discomfort is another frequently experienced symptom for those with this condition. This discomfort may become more severe with certain weather or temporal changes. This condition often also causes mobility issues. These can range from difficulty in standing up straight and walking to a complete inability to exercise at all. These symptoms can then lead to the sufferer developing various mental health issues, such as anxiety and low self-esteem.

The Difference Between Lipedema and Lymphedema 

Upon visiting a doctor, you may receive a diagnosis of lymphedema instead of lipedema. This misdiagnosis occurs more regularly than you may initially think. This is because the symptoms of both these conditions are extremely similar. There are, however, several key discerning traits between the conditions. With lymphedema, a particular type of swelling occurs. When you apply pressure to the affected area, there is usually an indentation left on the body. Furthermore, swelling usually starts at the feet and works upward, whereas swelling with lipedema starts at the thighs and works downward.

Effective Lipedema Treatments

There are several treatments for lipedema available. However, the most effective by far is liposuction. Liposuction is an extremely effective procedure that directly targets the fat cell deposits in specified regions of the body. Dr. Su is a specialist in the field and can effectively treat lipedema patients to find relief. If your doctor has failed to answer the question “what is lipedema,” Dr. Su can help. So, contact us today at Artistic Lipo and Plastic Surgery and arrange your first consultation.