Lipedema is a disease that affects 11% of the female population — 17 million in the U.S. and 370 million women worldwide. Yet lipedema continues to be tragically misunderstood and misdiagnosed. The problem is that many physicians still misdiagnose this disfiguring disease as simple obesity, but lipedema doesn’t respond to diets or exercise. The typical symptoms occur when fat begins to accumulate beneath your skin in an irregular way, typically in the buttocks, thighs, and calves. Most women develop a large lower half and wide, column-like legs. For example, the top half of your body may be a size 8, while your bottom half is a size 18 or larger. As the disease progresses, the fat can begin to accumulate in your arms and abdomen.
Lipedema should not be ignored! Not only is it a cosmetic concern, but as it progresses it can lead to physical problems such as frequent bruising, discomfort, pain, loss of mobility, and can progress to permanent lymphatic damage.
Lipedema is a disease misunderstood and misdiagnosed by many practitioners. If you’re like many women, you may have been mistakenly diagnosed with lymphedema. What is the difference between lymphedema and lipedema? While these two disorders can appear similar, their root causes are quite different. Lipedema is an abnormal accumulation of excess fat, swelling, and fibrosis under the skin, while lymphedema is damage of the vessels of the lymphatic system. This leads to a buildup of tissue fluids, swelling, and scar tissue (fibrosis). Lipedema is also painful to the touch with frequent bruising, which doesn’t occur with lymphedema.
There are also physical differences between the two — lipedema typically affects both legs with a near symmetrical, column-like appearance. Lymphedema will typically affect just one leg. If it affects both legs, the swelling will be asymmetric – one leg larger than the other.
In many cases, the progression of lipedema can be slowed by compression therapy and adapting a diet that is respectful of lipedema. However, Dr. Amron stresses that these therapies often have little effect on reversing the disease.
Some of the treatments are designed to improve the flow and drainage of fluid in your tissues, such as:
These techniques help to encourage the flow of fluid through your body.
The patient wears tight-fitting bandages or garments that squeeze the affected limbs.
For additional information about Lipedema:
A Philanthropic Medical Society and Lipedema Resource & Network Advancing Lipedema Awareness and Education
Lippy Logic is an educational encyclopedic YouTube series for Lipedema patients, with the goal of spreading awareness and understanding to both patients and medical professionals. Subscribe to stay updated with regular future episodes and Community Q&As.
The Fat Disorders Research Society (FDRS) was founded in 2009 by Sue Grimshaw, Susan Smith and Carole Reed to promote research, increase public awareness, and provide information and resources for individuals with fat disorders. Learn more about the FDRS
Join potential, current, and past patients of ALT in a welcoming and supportive Facebook Group. Here you'll find women sharing their experiences and helping others; an excellent resource to get your Lipedema-related questions answered fast!
Your lipedema questions answered! Follow along for quick and easy answers to questions from our community of lipedema patients covering common concerns to before, during, and after surgery tips. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way!
The Lipedema Foundation supports collaborative research that addresses the basic biology, genetics, and epidemiology of Lipedema.
The Lipedema Project is a collaborative partnership between the Friedman Center for Lymphedema Research & Treatment at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and Lipedema Simplified, LLC. The Lipedema Project is a comprehensive transmedia program working to increase awareness and provide education, research and treatment for lipedema.
UK based lipedema organization that provides advocacy and support for lipedema patients. Also hosts of lipedema conferences and workshops.
Provides blogs, resources, research and information to women in the lipedema community
Yvonne Russell's company provides compression garments and educational material for women who suffer from lipedema.