Understanding Lipedema - A Fat Storage Disorder
Some women just can't seem to lose weight, even with an ideal regimen of diet and exercise. If you're one of many who face this problem, you may be suffering from Lipedema, a fat storage disease. Lipedema is a condition that causes disproportionate fat accumulation in the legs and arms.
Dr. Amron explains, in many cases, there's a cuff around the ankles in Lipedema patients, and it's different from obesity and fat legs. Obesity is being overweight, and "fat legs" may just be a part of a genetic disproportion, but with Lipedema, there's also prominence of swelling, commonly pain, and a column-like look to the leg. Lipedema is seen in both obese and thin individuals alike.
Lipedema occurs almost exclusively in women and usually appears after puberty, progressively getting worse. It affects approximately 11 percent of the female population - 17 million in the U.S. and 370 million women worldwide. Commonly, there's a genetic inheritance component to Lipedema.
As Lipedema progresses, patients experience a series of symptoms including, discomfort, pain, heaviness and numbness. These symptoms get increasingly worse and begin to affect a person's mobility and quality of life, causing decreased ability to move as easily, usually affecting the ability to exercise, too. At later stages, it can even put patients in a wheelchair, or possibly make them bedridden.
Why is Lipedema so often misdiagnosed?
If you are like most people, you probably haven't heard of Lipedema. In fact, even in the medical community, Lipedema is misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. Many patients suffering with Lipedema have been told they are obese and should simply lose weight. No amount of diet or exercise can significantly prevent Lipedema, nor correct and cure its disproportionate fat deposits.
Lipedema progresses in three stages, as illustrated below:
Pictures courtesy of www.lipedema-simplifed.org
Lipedema is not only a painful condition, it’s also often emotionally and physically disabling, which can contribute to a diminished quality of life.
Can Lipedema be Treated?
Lipedema is a complicated disorder that many doctors are unaware of. Until recently, Lipedema has been a troubling medical mystery, so most women have had to live with it. Many of the patients Dr. Amron sees have been to numerous physicians, but never received a proper evaluation or diagnosis. However, there are answers and an effective treatment. (links to "Treating Lipedema”)
Dr. Amron stresses the diagnosis of Lipedema must be done on a clinical basis and categorized into three stages: mild, moderate, and severe or advanced. After a correct diagnosis, Dr. Amron carefully evaluates his patients to determine whether they are candidates for liposuction and if so, develops a comprehensive treatment plan.
Prior to liposuction surgery, it may be helpful to reduce the tissue load of swelling. This can either be done with compression therapy, or pre-compression pump therapy. Patients are also placed on an antibiotic one day before surgery and will continue for the duration of five days. It’s also necessary that elderly patients, or patients with additional medical problems, receive medical clearance prior to the operation.