It surprises some individuals to discover that there are several stages of lipedema. Lipedema is a progressive condition that only worsens with time. Patients start at Stage One and progress through to Stage Four. The progression can take many years, but eventually, every lipedema sufferer will get worse over time.
Doctors find it hard to diagnose lipedema, especially in its early stages. For this reason, many patients don’t get their diagnosis for a long time. They are at a late stage of the disease when they finally get their diagnosis. Knowing the signs and symptoms of lipedema can help sufferers get the diagnosis they need earlier. Lobules are a definitive sign of lipedema. So, when does this symptom begin to appear?
What Are Lobules?
Lobules are hanging flaps or extrusions of skin that stick out from the body’s smooth contours. You can see lobules from a distance. They affect the body’s silhouette and cause a disproportionate look for the sufferer.
Where Do Lobules Appear?
Lobules can appear on many different areas of the body. However, the most common area for their appearance is over and below the knees. They also often appear underneath the upper arms together with the inner and outer thighs.
Do Lobules Only Occur in Lipedema Sufferers?
The term “lobules” means “lobes” in a medical context. The word has several anatomical uses. Healthcare professionals usually use it to describe the glands in the breasts. However, other organs have lobules, such as the lungs and liver.
Regarding lipedema sufferers, the word “lobules” means something different. It means hanging masses of fatty tissue. Only lipedema sufferers have lobules of fat. Obese people have excess fat, but it doesn’t form the same kind of hanging masses. For this reason, many experts say lobules are a definitive marker of lipedema.
Do Lobules Appear as Soon as Lipedema Develops?
One problem with using lobules as a marker of lipedema is that they don’t appear right away. People with lipedema don’t develop lobules until late in the disease’s progression. Typically, lobules won’t appear until the patient reaches Stage Three. Some lipedema experts believe that the appearance of lobules differentiates Stage Two from Stage Three of the disease.
Are Lipedema Lobules the Same as Nodules?
The terminology surrounding lipedema can be pretty confusing, especially as some of the words sound similar. Nodules and lobules are two terms relating to lipedema. Yet, while they sound alike, they aren’t the same thing.
Lobules are hanging masses of fat that are very visible. They noticeably change the patient’s silhouette, causing a lumpy appearance. Nodules, on the other hand, are not usually seen, only felt. They’re just underneath the surface of the skin, and sufferers can feel them as a harder area.
Unlike lobules, nodules become apparent at an early stage of the disease. They are present from Stage One and continue to grow and develop as the condition progresses. Initially, at Stage One, nodules feel similar to small seeds or peas under the skin. By Stage Two, they may feel more like gumballs. By Stage Three, patients will have both lobules and nodules. By that time, the nodules may be the size of walnuts or even more significant. In some cases, patients have nodules the same size as a plum.
A critical difference between nodules and lobules is that nodules aren’t always a sign of lipedema. Lobules, on the other hand, are a vital marker of the disease. People who are obese or who have cellulite may have nodular fat. However, if the nodules are subcutaneous, the individual may have lipedema. If you have fatty nodules, it’s essential to seek out advice from a specialist, as you may suffer from lipedema.
Do I Have Lipedema?
If you have lobules, you are likely to have lipedema. If you can feel fatty nodules under your skin, it’s possible you may be a sufferer too. That applies no matter how large or small the nodules are. Whether they’re small, like a grain of rice, or larger, like a walnut, you must seek expert advice. Getting a speedy lipedema diagnosis ensures you can get the treatment you require swiftly. If you can get treatment quickly, your outcome will be more positive.
Lipedema is a progressive condition and will only worsen with time. If you delay getting treatment, it will be challenging to slow the condition’s progression. You’ll also experience more pain and mobility issues if you wait longer to get a diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Su at ArtLipo is a specialist in the field of lipedema and liposuction. If you think you may have lipedema, you should book a consultation with him now. He can examine you and determine whether you have the condition. If you do have lipedema, he can tell you which of the lipedema stages you’re at and offer effective treatment.
Dr. Hamwi is an aesthetic plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic surgical and non-invasive procedures. After completing residencies in both plastic surgery and general surgery as well as a fellowship at Harvard University, Dr. Hamwi then went on to pursue an aesthetic surgery fellowship at one of the country’s most competitive programs in Manhattan, New York. Less than one percent of plastic surgeons have completed such specialized training.