Lipedema is a condition characterized by the uneven distribution of fat deposits, usually in the lower part of the body. Although doctors have known about it for some time, they still struggle to diagnose the problem. Therefore, many sufferers go undiagnosed for years. Meanwhile, their problems continue to worsen. Knowing the lipedema symptoms to look out for will help you to get a faster diagnosis and faster treatment.
What Causes Lipedema?
Lipedema is a condition caused by an irregular buildup of the fat cells. It occurs in people of all ages and weight ranges. Even those who are already underweight can suffer from it. It’s usually only seen in women, and it only affects around 11 percent of the population.
The causes behind lipedema remain known. Some people believe, however, that hormonal changes in the female body cause it. Women whose family members have the condition have a higher risk of also developing it.
Lipedema often appears or worsens at puberty, during pregnancy, during menopause or after surgery.
How Is Lipedema Diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing lipedema symptoms, you should see your doctor. He or she will take a look at your affected areas. He or she may, then, be able to determine whether the swelling has another cause. Nevertheless, to know whether you need to see your doctor, you’ll need to be aware of the symptoms. Having a strong knowledge of what to look out for will put you in the best position to get treatment.
Symptom 1 – Symmetrical Swelling
The first symptom to be aware of is symmetrical swelling. Usually, this will occur in the lower body. Unlike conditions, such as lymphedema, the swelling will affect both legs. They will take on a column-like appearance. The swelling usually occurs from ankle to hip. Both legs will look equally swollen. In some patients, the condition affects the arms, too. In these cases, both arms will be equally swollen. Usually, the upper body will be much smaller than the lower body.
Symptom 2 – No Change to The Feet or Hands
People with lipedema will see no change to their hands or feet because of swelling. This can result in a cuff of fat around the ankle and around the wrist. This is a clear sign of lipedema since the extremities appear normal even when the legs and arms are swollen.
Symptom 3 – An Unusual Texture
The areas of the body affected by lipedema have an unusual texture. They may feel spongy and cool to the touch. Usually, the skin feels soft. When touched, the affected areas will also be very sensitive. In later stages, you may be able to feel nodules of fat under the skin.
Symptom 4 – Bruising
Another key symptom to be aware of is bruising. People with lipedema bruise very easily in their affected areas. There may also be small spider veins or varicose veins.
Symptom 5 – Pain and Mobility Issues
The affected areas usually feel uncomfortable and may be painful. Swelling can be worse in the evenings, on hot days, or after activities. People who have lipedema often find it hard to walk. Participating in physical activities or exercise can be difficult. This can result in increasing isolation and self-esteem issues. Anxiety and depression often co-exist alongside lipedema.
Do I Have Lipedema or Lymphedema?
Two conditions have some similarities – lipedema and lymphedema. It can be difficult to determine which one you’re suffering from. You need to be aware of the symptoms of each.
Lipedema is a progressive condition. Over time, it may turn into lymphedema. This is because the fatty deposits build up and affect the lymphatic system. It will eventually struggle to drain away waste products, fluids, and the inflammatory molecules from inside the tissues.
While both lipedema and lymphedema cause swelling, those with lymphedema find it has affected their hands and feet. They may not have symmetrical swelling, and the swollen areas will indent or pit when pressed.
Getting Treatment for Lipedema
If you think you have the symptoms of lipedema, you should seek professional help. You cannot improve lipedema by exercise or dieting, although being a healthy body weight may help reduce inflammation. There are several treatments for lipedema. One is to wear compression garments or bandages. Another is to have specialist massages to improve mobility and to move fluids away from the affected areas.
One of the most effective treatments for lipedema is liposuction. This removes the fat cells permanently from the affected areas. A doctor will make small incisions under the skin, insert cannulas, and remove the fat. This is a long-lasting and effective procedure for sufferers. It can reduce unpleasant symptoms, improve mobility, and eradicate pain.
If you are experiencing lipedema symptoms, contact Artistic Lipo and Plastic Surgery today. Our specialist cosmetic surgeons can offer you an effective treatment to improve your quality of life.