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What Does Lipedema Look Like?

Lipedema has several key characteristics. The most obvious sign of this condition is the abnormal build-up of fat in the lower body and legs. Mostly, sufferers find lipedema affects their buttocks, hips, and legs. The fat distribution is symmetrical, with the legs taking on a column-like shape. The feet remain unaffected.

 In most cases, the upper body of patients will be noticeably smaller than their lower body. As sufferers progress through the disease’s stages, the symptoms of lipedema become more visibly apparent. The body may develop lobules – large masses of fat that change its contours. Some patients find their arms and abdomen are affected too.

Does Lipedema Look Like Obesity?

To anyone who doesn’t know what they’re looking for, lipedema and obesity have many similarities–at least in physical terms. In fact, it can be easy to mistake lipedema for obesity if you’re unfamiliar with the disease. It’s not unusual for doctors to make this mistake in the earlier stages of the condition. Even doctors sometimes fail to spot lipedema in their patients. With lipedema, the affected areas sometimes appear to be obese. That’s why physicians frequently misdiagnose patients. However, there are significant differences between lipedema fat and regular fat.

Lipedema fat doesn’t respond like regular fat to diet and exercise. No matter how little food a sufferer eats or how often they exercise, it’ll make little difference to their shape. The unaffected areas may reduce in size, but the affected limbs remain stubbornly large. That creates an even greater disproportion between the upper and lower body, resulting in lower self-confidence. Some people with lipedema suffer from eating disorders and still have large limbs. No matter how few calories they consume, the fat continues to build up over time.

The most significant difference between lipedema and obesity is that lipedema isn’t prominent across the entire body. Usually, obese people are large all over their bodies. They may have some body areas that are bigger than others, but the fat is generally relatively evenly spread. Meanwhile, lipedema patients have significantly smaller upper bodies when compared with their lower bodies. Their torso is often several sizes smaller than their lower body, creating a disproportionate appearance. That frequently causes sufferers distress and results in poor body confidence.

Does Lipedema Only Affect the Lower Body?

Lipedema primarily affects the lower body, but in some patients, the condition affects the arms too. Typically, though, this happens when the disease is at a later stage. Some sufferers develop lobules of fat hanging from their arms. These create a disproportionate look that can cause low self-esteem and poor mental well-being. Usually, though, the torso remains unaffected.

Apart From Swelling, Are There Other Signs of Lipedema to Look For?

Swelling is a common sign of lipedema, but there are other signs to be aware of. For starters, bruising is particularly common, especially on sufferers’ lower limbs. Sufferers also often experience tenderness and pain in their affected areas. Eventually, mobility issues can develop as the legs become heavy and painful to move. Lipedema sufferers also often have a cuff of fat at their ankles and wrists. That’s because the condition doesn’t affect the hands and feet. The skin also has an unusual texture. Sufferers may feel nodules underneath the skin. These can feel like grains of rice or peas. In the worst cases, they can feel like walnuts or even plums.

What Kind of Treatments Are Available for Lipedema?

Lipedema sufferers can choose between conservative and surgical treatments. Some doctors recommend trying conservative treatment options first. These include MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) and wearing compression garments. These treatments only address the symptoms, not the cause of lipedema. That means any relief is only short-lived, and the disease continues progressing.

The surgical solution is liposuction of the affected limbs. This treatment removes the cause of the problem – the diseased fat. Although surgery doesn’t cure lipedema, it does help patients experience longer-lasting relief from pain and mobility problems. Liposuction addresses lipedema at its source and helps improve quality of life. It also restores a more proportionate body shape, so patients usually experience improved self-esteem. As patients become more mobile, they’re also more able to live an active lifestyle in the future. That helps to guard against obesity and helps keep the fat build-up at bay.

If you’re interested in undergoing lipedema surgery, you need to find a surgeon with the right skills and experience. Not all cosmetic surgeons are able to work with lipedema patients. You need to find a specialist with expertise in this field. Dr. Su at ArtLipo is a top choice in Tampa, Florida. As an expert in liposuction, he works with many lipedema sufferers from all over the country. He achieves excellent outcomes for his patients. You can view the images from before and after their surgeries in our gallery. To find out more and to arrange your consultation, give the ArtLipo team a call today.

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