Lipedema symptoms are challenging to live with and cause sufferers’ ongoing misery. Whether you’re at the early or late stages of the condition, you may struggle to cope. Individuals with lipedema experience both emotional and physical issues. Even at stage one or two, they may suffer from anxiety and depression due to their increased limb size. By the time they reach stages three or four, they usually have mobility issues and continuous pain. Finding ways to manage those unpleasant symptoms is critical. Here, we look at some ways to try to control them more effectively.
Lipedema – A Definition
Lipedema is a disease of the lymphatic system. Only women suffer from this condition. Medical professionals believe changing hormones may cause lipedema. It usually begins or worsens during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. Getting a diagnosis of lipedema is difficult. Many doctors misdiagnose it in its early stages as obesity. They tell sufferers to exercise more and lose weight. Unfortunately, restricting calories and working out doesn’t impact lipedema. The condition continues to progress and worsen over time.
Lipedema tends to affect the lower limbs, including the buttocks, hips, and legs. Some women also experience fat build-up in their upper arms. Over time, the fat becomes painful and uncomfortable. As more fat accumulates, mobility becomes restricted, and movement becomes difficult. Fatty build-up can block the person’s blood vessels, which strains the sufferer’s lymphatic system. Of course, sufferers also tend to have low self-esteem and poor self-confidence. They worry about their disproportionate appearance. All of this adds up to severe physical and mental health issues.
Lipedema progresses through four distinct stages. Here, we look at the symptoms of each stage and how to manage them.
Managing Stage One Lipedema
At stage one of lipedema, patients often fail to notice a serious problem. They may think they’ve gained some weight. They may also see their legs look more “trunk-like” or that their body is more pear-shaped. Often, sufferers will wear a bigger size on their lower body than their upper body. Many women with stage one lipedema already experience some discomfort or pain in their limbs. That pain usually reduces with the elevation of the limb.
Managing stage one symptoms involves wearing compression garments. It also involves raising your legs when resting or sleeping. Massage therapies also help at this stage while sufferers should exercise and eat well to maintain their body weight.
Managing Stage Two Lipedema
When lipedema progresses to Stage two, patients notice their skin texture changes. It may look like cellulite, so again, doctors often misdiagnose the condition. The skin starts to look lumpy or dimply in appearance. It is also soft to touch. Continuing to wear compression garments still helps at this stage. Manual lymphatic drainage can also help.
Managing Stage Three Lipedema
Patients at stage three experience far more issues. They have ongoing discomfort and swelling in their limbs. The fatty tissue is also very heavy, and the skin texture changes, becoming knotty, fibrotic, and hard. Often, the fat causes skin folds that hang, causing strain on the joints. Patients find they have severely inhibited mobility. By stage three, massage, elevation of the limbs, and wearing compression garments barely help at all. Seeking surgery is the best course of action.
Managing Stage Four
When your reach stage four lipedema, the condition is physically debilitating. Other health problems become apparent at this point. Obesity is commonly a side-effect as patients struggle to exercise or move around. Of course, this, in turn, causes medical issues like hypertension, diabetes, and heart problems. The skin becomes thicker and harder by stage four. That makes the fat even heavier. The skin is also less elastic, so irritation and rashes in the skin folds occur. When stage four lipedema goes untreated, lymphedema can occur. That is a life-threatening condition. There is little you can do to manage the symptoms of stage four lipedema. Surgery is the only viable option.
Getting An Early Diagnosis
Women with lipedema who get an early diagnosis have far better outcomes in the long run. The sooner you know you have this condition, the quicker you can get effective treatment. Lipedema is progressive, so it only gets worse with time. If you don’t get treatment, the condition gets harder to treat.
Although there is no cure for lipedema, surgery is an effective long-term solution. It removes the lipidemic fat from the body. Not only does it reduce the pain, but it also improves mobility significantly. Furthermore, it improves mental well-being. Lipedema sufferers who undergo surgery have more self-confidence and improved self-esteem. They enjoy a better quality of life overall.
If you believe you have lipedema, you should get in touch with ArtLipo today. Dr. Su is a specialist in lipedema treatment. He can assess your lipedema symptoms, give you a diagnosis, and treat you effectively and swiftly.
Dr. Thomas Su, is the owner and cosmetic surgeon of Artistic Lipo. He has led our full-time clinic specializing in awake-only liposuction since 2007. Dr. Su began his medical career in internal medicine, practicing that until 2005, when he began to provide a full spectrum of non-invasive cosmetic procedures.