Experts don’t know precisely what causes lipedema. It’s thought, however, that it may be a genetically inherited condition. Often, several members of the same family will show symptoms of the disease. It’s also believed that female hormonal changes cause lipedema, as it almost always occurs only in women. It also typically starts or worsens during puberty, menopause, or pregnancy. Some people believe that obesity causes lipedema, but that isn’t the case. Not every person suffering from lipedema is obese or overweight. Some people with lipedema are actually underweight or suffer from eating disorders. If you lose weight when you have lipedema, the areas the disease affects will still remain larger than average.
What Are The Signs Of Lipedema?
The main signs of lipedema include:
- The build-up of fat in the calves, thighs and buttocks: Sometimes, fat will also build up in the upper arms. Leg elevation, support stockings, and diuretics won’t improve or help the areas affected. Usually, there won’t be any swelling in the hands or feet. Typically, both sides of the body are equally affected.
- Pain and excessive tenderness in the affected areas
- Easy bruising in the affected areas
- Once the condition has worsened, mobility problems can arise.
- Emotional symptoms like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem due to the aesthetic effects of the disease
- Eventually, the fat accumulation may block the lymphatic pathways. This causes lymph fluid build-up causing lipo-lymphedema or secondary lymphedema.
- The areas affected by the condition will feel cool and spongy with soft skin.
- Fatty areas on the inner side of both knees and the outer side of both hips
- Small spider or varicose veins in affected areas
- Worsened swelling during the evenings, during hot weather, or after activity
- A disparity in size between the lower and upper body that makes buying clothes difficult
Are Lymphedema And Lipedema The Same Thing?
Lipedema and lymphedema aren’t the same condition. However, they do have some similarities, and lipedema may eventually turn into lymphedema. This happens because fat accumulation prevents the drainage of fluids through the lymphatic system.
People who have lymphedema have some different symptoms from those who have lipedema. They find:
- They have swelling in the hands or feet as well as the arms and legs.
- They have different degrees of swelling in both arms or legs. One limb will be larger than the other.
- The skin will indent or pit if pressed by the fingers, leaving temporary marks on the skin.
- They are at a greater risk of infections.
Is Lipedema The Cause Of All Tissue Swelling?
Lipedema causes swelling of the tissues. However, there are other causes too. Of course, lymphedema is one. But there are some others that doctors will need to rule out as well.
The most common cause of swollen tissues is obesity. If someone is obese, they will usually have fat distributed evenly across their entire body. If they exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, the fat should reduce overall.
Chronic venous insufficiency and phlebedema are also causes of tissue swelling. These conditions involve fluid being present with the absence of fat. Often the skin will have a brownish color and will be itchy.
How Do I Get A Diagnosis Of Lipedema?
Some doctors struggle to diagnose patients with lipedema, because doctors don’t understand the causes of lipedema. A specialist in the condition can give patients a lipedema diagnosis, and they can carry out an examination to assess the patient’s symptoms.
How Do Doctors Treat Lipedema?
Doctors often tell patients with lipedema to diet and exercise to shed weight, because they frequently misdiagnose lipedema as obesity. In fact, dieting and exercising won’t reduce lipidemic fat.
While there is no cure for lipedema at present, doctors can treat the symptoms of the disease in several ways. Doctors call these treatments conservative options for patient treatment. They include:
- Switching to a healthy diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy body weight
- Using compression garments or bandages to squeeze the affected areas
- Doing more low-impact exercises like swimming to boost blood circulation and improve mobility
- Lymphatic drainage massages to improve mobility and help the fluids move away from affected areas
Surgery can treat the causes of lipedema, liposuction is the best solution to treat the cause of lipedema. This procedure removes lipidemic fat from all the affected parts of the body. The surgeon makes small incisions in the affected areas and passes a narrow tube through them. They then suction away the excess fat. Some patients may require multiple liposuction treatments to address the problem fully.
Liposuction for lipedema improves mobility and reduces pain significantly. It also helps to improve self-esteem and self-confidence. The patient’s body becomes more proportionate after surgery. Patients feel better about themselves and enjoy a better quality of life. If you are considering treating lipedema with liposuction, rest assured that the results of liposuction can last for several years.