Experts and sufferers alike often ask, is lipedema an autoimmune disease? As yet, there is no definitive answer to this question. Unfortunately, much remains unknown about lipedema, although around 11% of women are sufferers. Even the medical profession lacks knowledge of its signs and symptoms. The causes of lipedema are also mysterious. Although research suggests that the causes are hormonal and genetic, this is still unconfirmed. As for whether lipedema is an autoimmune condition, there are no real answers. Some people believe that it could have an autoimmune link, but more research is needed.

What Is an Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body misidentifies its own healthy cells as an infection. As a result, the body attacks itself, and the result is a range of different health problems. Autoimmune conditions affect all of the body’s systems and organs, causing different symptoms. It’s possible that lipedema may be an autoimmune condition. It certainly behaves in a similar way to some other autoimmune conditions. It may also be made worse by other coexisting autoimmune diseases.

Also Read - What Causes Lipedema?

What Are the Symptoms Associated with Lipedema?

Lipedema is a poorly understood condition that affects around 11% of women. Almost all sufferers are biologically female. Only a few men who suffer from hormone imbalances also suffer from lipedema.

Lipedema occurs due to the abnormal distribution of fat beneath the skin. Typically, it only affects the lower body, particularly the buttocks, legs, and hips. Initially, lipedema is primarily a cosmetic problem. However, over time, it begins to cause mobility problems and pain.

The main symptoms of lipedema include a larger lower body with column-like legs. The lower extremities are typically tender and can bruise easily. Sufferers often have an upper body that is two or three sizes smaller than their lower body.

As lipedema is a progressive condition, it gets worse over time. The fat carries on building up, and the lower body gets heavier. Eventually, the fat may start collecting in the upper arms too.

What Causes Lipedema?

As yet, medical professionals are unsure of the causes of lipedema. It is likely, though, that it is due to genes and hormones. Estrogen has a key part to play in the development of lipedema. For this reason, the vast majority of sufferers are biologically female. Lipedema tends to first appear at puberty but may appear or worsen at other times of hormonal change. Pregnancy, menopause and gynecological surgeries can all trigger or worsen the condition.

Experts have discovered a genetic link with lipedema too. It runs in families, and if your mother, sister, grandmother, or aunt suffers from it, you may too.

As experts have not yet fully pinpointed all of the causes of lipedema, it’s possible autoimmunity could be a cause. Research is ongoing into the disease, so hopefully, there will be more answers soon.

Is There Any Evidence Linking Lipedema with Autoimmune Conditions?

There is a condition called Dercum’s Disease that has an association with lipedema. It’s a similar connective tissue disorder that involves the build-up of abnormal fat. Many Dercum’s Disease sufferers also have lipedema. Experts believe that Dercum’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder. It’s possible lipedema may be one too, but scientists need additional research to determine whether this is the case.

Can Autoimmune Diseases Be Cured?

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for autoimmune diseases. Neither is there a cure for lipedema, which suggests it could have an autoimmune connection. Nevertheless, it’s possible to treat and manage both autoimmune conditions and lipedema. There are treatments available to help people to live with lipedema more comfortably.

Most doctors suggest that patients try conservative treatment options first. These options include manual lymphatic drainage, using pneumatic compression pumps, and wearing compression garments. Sufferers must also eat an anti-inflammatory diet and try to exercise regularly. These options can help to relieve some of the symptoms of the disease. They are, however, only addressing the symptoms and not the cause of lipedema. Therefore, they are only temporary measures, and treatments must be ongoing to have any positive impact.

There is a surgical way to treat lipedema that addresses the cause of the condition – the diseased fat. Liposuction surgery is a long-lasting treatment that gives patients relief from their symptoms for many years. It involves a surgeon making incisions in the affected limbs and suctioning out the excess fat. Afterward, patients enjoy improved mobility and experience less pain in their lower limbs. The surgery also restores a more proportionate appearance to their lower and upper bodies. As a result, patients feel less self-conscious and experience higher self-confidence and self-esteem. Although liposuction cannot cure lipedema, it improves sufferers’ quality of life significantly.

If you’re a sufferer and if you are wondering if lipedema is an autoimmune disease, you should seek help from a specialist. Dr. Su at ArtLipo is leading the way in the field and can give you the treatment that you need.