Lipedema is an often misunderstood medical condition that is surprisingly common. It affects as many as 11 percent of women and it is often mistaken for obesity. Someone with lipedema will see her fat distributed irregularly beneath her skin. It usually affects the legs and buttocks. While it may initially be a cosmetic problem, eventually it causes pain, as well as other problems.

The usual signs of lipedema are:

  • Column-like legs.
  • A larger lower half.
  • Legs that often feel tender.
  • Legs that bruise easily.

In patients with lipedema, the lower body may be two or three sizes larger than the top half.

When lipedema progresses, the fat will eventually build up and cause the lower body to grow heavier. Eventually, fat may start to accumulate in the person’s arms, too. Over time, the fat cells will block the lymphatic system vessels. This prevents the body’s fluid levels from balancing and reduces its natural protection against infection. The blockage will prevent lymph fluid from being properly drained. The result is a fluid buildup known as lymphedema. If you don’t treat lymphedema, the result can be infections, fibrosis, or hardening of the skin of the legs.

Lipedema begins in the upper legs and will affect both legs. The only real way to treat it is to have liposuction of the legs. This will remove the fat cells permanently to create a more attractive and slimmer lower body. For people suffering from this misunderstood medical condition, it can reduce pain and restore self-confidence.