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What Are Lipedema Legs?

The term lipedema legs refer to the characteristic appearance of the lower limbs when the individual suffers from lipedema. Lipedema is a progressive medical condition caused by abnormal fat accumulation. It can affect the arms and abdomen, but it affects the lower limbs most often. Legs affected by lipedema are usually column-like and large. Typically, they’re painful and bruise easily. They also often cause the individual to suffer from poor self-esteem.

Does Lipedema Only Affect the Legs?

Lipedema usually affects the legs, but can affect other areas of the body too. Some patients find their abdomen is affected. Sometimes the buttocks and hips are affected too. In some cases, the arms also swell and develop lobules.

Are Lipedema Legs Caused by Obesity

It’s easy to think that obesity causes lipedema legs since obesity and lipedema have similar symptoms. Even doctors often think that people with lipedema are just obese. Yet, while some people with lipedema are obese, obesity doesn’t cause lipedema. The two conditions are actually very different.

Obesity involves regular fat that responds to diet and exercise. Meanwhile, lipedema fat doesn’t respond to diet and exercise. Obesity isn’t painful, while lipedema is. People who are obese won’t feel nodules under their skin and won’t bruise easily, while people with lipedema do.

Are Lipedema Legs Caused by Lymphedema?

Doctors often get their patients’ diagnoses wrong when it comes to lipedema. They tell them they have lymphedema instead. That’s because some similarities exist between these two swelling conditions. Actually, they’re entirely different diseases. Lipedema is a condition involving diseased fat that accumulating abnormally on the lower body. Lymphedema involves the accumulation of lymph fluid underneath the skin, which causes swelling. Both cause swelling and pain, but not in the same ways.

Swelling due to lymphedema is usually only on one side of the body, while lipedema causes symmetrical swelling. The hands and feet remain unaffected in lipedema sufferers, but they swell in cases of lymphedema. Other symptoms of lymphedema include a positive Stemmer’s sign and skin pitting. These are absent in lipedema sufferers. It’s worth noting, though, that eventually, lipedema can progress, so sufferers develop symptoms of lymphedema too.

What Causes Lipedema Legs?

Nobody knows precisely what causes lipedema, but experts now think that hormones and genes are factors in the equation. That reasoning is due to several key factors. It’s triggered or worsened by hormonal changes like those taking place during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. It also tends to have family connections, and it almost always only affects women.

How Are Lipedema Legs Treated?

To get treatment for lipedema, patients first need to get their diagnosis. That can present a challenge in itself. Lipedema resembles several other conditions, such as obesity and lymphedema. Also, few doctors understand it. Therefore, sufferers need to see a specialist with expertise in this area.

There are conservative treatments available, but these only address the symptoms that patients experience. Conservative treatments include eating healthier, exercising regularly, undergoing manual lymphatic drainage, and wearing compression garments. The relief these options bring is only temporary. The condition also continues to worsen throughout.

Liposuction is the surgical option to treat lipedema. It doesn’t cure the condition, but it produces long-lasting positive effects. It addresses the cause of the problem – the diseased fat cells. By removing them, it helps patients in several ways.

After surgery, patients experience less pain in their affected limbs and have improved mobility. The surgery restores a more proportionate appearance to their body, boosting their emotional well-being. Overall, surgery gives patients a better quality of life for several years.

Do I Have Lipedema Legs?

There are a few critical symptoms associated with lipedema you need to be aware of. These include:

  • Large, symmetrical, column-like legs with no clear definition of the calves and ankles.
  • Feet and hands that remain unaffected by swelling.
  • A cuff of fat around the ankle (and around the wrist if the arms are affected).
  • Easy bruising of the affected limbs.
  • Tenderness and pain in the affected areas when touched.
  • Reduced mobility.
  • Nodules underneath the skin that feel like grains of rice, peas, or walnuts.
  • Lobules, or hanging lumps of fat, usually under the arms and above the knees.
  • A much larger lower body and a smaller upper body (with often several sizes difference).

If you have the above symptoms, you may be suffering from lipedema. If you think you may have lipedema, you should see a specialist as quickly as possible. They’ll diagnose you and ensure you receive the treatment you need quickly. The sooner you get treated, the better your long-term outcome. Therefore, seeking out a skilled and experienced specialist straight away is crucial.

Dr. Su at ArtLipo in Tampa, Florida, is a top choice for lipedema patients. He has years of experience in the field and regularly treats patients with lipedema, producing excellent outcomes.

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